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Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
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An insurance score – also called an insurance credit score – is a numerical point system based on select credit report characteristics. There is no direct relationship to financial credit scores used in lending decisions, as insurance scores are not intended to measure creditworthiness, but rather to predict risk. Insurance companies use insurance scores for underwriting decisions, and to partially determine charges for premiums. Insurance scores are applied in personal product lines, namely homeowners and private passenger automobile insurance, and typically not elsewhere.
Insurance scoring models are built from selections of credit report factors, combined with insurance claim and profitability data, to produce numerical formulae or algorithms. A scoring model may be unique to an insurance company and to each line of business (e.g. homeowners or automobile), in terms of the factors selected for consideration and the weighting of the point assignments. As insurance credit scores are not intended to measure creditworthiness, they commonly focus on financial habits and choices (i.e., age of oldest account, number of inquiries in 24 months, ratio of total balance to total limits, number of open retail credit cards, number of revolving accounts with balances greater than 75% of limits, etc.) Therefore it is possible for a consumer with a high financial credit score, and excellent payment history, to receive a poor insurance score. Insurers consider credit report information in their underwriting and pricing decisions as a predictor of profitability and risk of loss.
Various studies have found a strong relationship between credit-based insurance scores and profitability or risk of loss. The scores are generally most predictive when little or no other information exists, such as in the case of clean driving records, or claims-free policies; in instances where past claims, points, or other similar information exist on record, the personal histories will typically be more predictive than the scores. Insurers consider credit report information, along with other factors, such as driving experience, previous claims and vehicle age, to develop a picture of a consumer’s risk profile and to establish premium rates. The correlation, between credit-based insurance scores and overall insurance profitability and loss, has not been disputed.
The use of credit information in insurance pricing and underwriting is heavily disputed. Proponents of insurance credit scoring include insurance companies, the American Academy of Actuaries (AAA), the Insurance Information Institute (III), and credit bureaus such as Fair Isaac and TransUnion. Active opponents include many state insurance departments and regulators, and consumer protection organizations such as the Center for Economic Justice, the Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumer Law Center and Texas Watch. As a result of successful lobbying by the insurance industry, credit scoring is legal in nearly all states. The state of Hawaii has banned all use of credit information in personal automobile underwriting and rating, and other states have established restrictions. A number of states have also made unsuccessful attempts to ban or restrict the practice. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has acknowledged that a correlation does exist between insurance scores and losses, but asserts that the benefit of credit reports to consumers has not yet been established.
Insurance credit-scoring models are considered proprietary, and a trade secret, in most cases. The designers wish to protect their models from view for a number of reasons: they may provide competitive advantage in the insurance marketplace, or they anticipate consumers might attempt to alter results, by changing the information they provide, if the computations were common knowledge. Thus there is little public information available about the details of insurance credit-scoring models.
One actuarial study has been published, The Impact of Personal Credit History on Loss Performance in Personal Lines, by James Monaghan, ACAS MAAA.
Allstate has published a private passenger automobile credit scoring model, the ISM7 (NI) Scorecard (where “NI” indicates no inquiries are considered)….
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