Friday, August 08, 2008

Will a credit freeze affect my insurance?

I am still considering whether or not we should freeze our family credit reports. Having recently sifted through a credit report, I noticed that my insurance company, Erie Insurance, checks my credit every year. I decided to surf on over to their website to see why they do this and if having a frozen credit report would affect my credit.

Erie is calling what they create with your credit report an "insurance score." They claim that they have found some correlation between people with bad credit issues and risk:

Erie Insurance uses credit information in order to help predict a policyholder or prospective policyholder’s propensity for future loss. Many independent studies have shown that there is a distinct and consistent decline in risk of loss as an insurance score improves. Therefore, the more favorable an individual’s insurance score, the less likely the policyholder is to experience a loss, and vice versa.

Erie further describes how it uses the score on another page:

When evaluating a person’s credit information to determine an insurance score, an insurer only considers those items from credit reports that are relevant to insurance loss potential. Both an insurance score and a credit score are derived from the same thing: a credit report; but they are distinctly different.

The main difference between an insurance score and a credit score is that insurance scores do not take into account a consumer’s income. Unlike a mortgage company, an insurance company is not assessing a customer’s credit-worthiness and therefore doesn’t consider income. Instead, an insurance company only considers those items on a credit report that will indicate future loss potential.

We recognize that people sometimes face difficult circumstances in their lives such as job loss, medical bills or divorce. When we consider an applicant’s insurance score, an isolated instance of a late payment will not have a significant impact on your eligibility. We are looking at long-term patterns and overall responsible use of credit.

Similarly, applicants who use cash for purchases or who don’t have established credit will not be scored negatively.

I assume then a credit freeze will lock in current credit information and move to the last line about people who use cash...therefore would not be scored negatively. Based on that, I believe a credit freeze would not negatively affect my insurance rates.

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