Everyone knows that filing claims can cause your homeowner rates to go up. But the latest news shows that your bill paying habits (and your credit score) could work against you too.
You probably know that your credit score can affect your mortgage rates, right? The better your credit score, the better the mortgage rate that you can qualify for. But what about your home insurance rates? You might want to hold onto your hat.
The latest reports show that paying your credit card bills late can hurt you when it’s time to renew that home insurance policy next year. While you might wonder what your credit score has to do with your insurance rates, underwriters tend to think it’s pretty important. In fact, the industry will often use a credit-based score to calculate your rates. That means that you level of debt and your late payment history count. Bottom line: paying those credit cards late will hurt you insurance-wise.
How much are late credit card payments costing you?
Are you the type of person that pays your bills on time? Well, that’s good! You’ll be rewarded. But if you struggle to pay your credit cards on time, that’ll be reflected in the rates that you pay annually.
Let’s find out what kind of an effect a drop in your credit score can have on your insurance rates. The latest study from Insurancequotes.com tells us that a drop from an “Excellent” to a “Fair” credit score can cause a 36% increase in your premiums. Yikes! And that’s just the “Fair” rating. What about a “Poor” credit score? Prepare for an average increase of 114% on your premiums. That’s more than twice what people with excellent credit will pay.
Now here’s the scary part. Every insurance company is different and every state is different. Some poor folks wish they were only paying 114% more! Depending on your state, you might be paying a stiffer penalty for your low credit rating.
What about here in Atlanta? Drum roll, please…
The same study from Insurancequotes.com shows us that overall, as far as premiums go, Georgia ranks 22nd out of the 50 states. But Georgia currently has 132% higher rates for people with poor credit than for people with excellent credit. So, for example, a person with excellent credit might have a $1,000.00 homeowner’s premium in Atlanta. His neighbor with poor credit would pay a $2,320 premium for the same house next door.
Wait a second, that doesn’t seem fair!
Well, it might seem that way. Insurance companies and lenders make their decisions based on statistics. Since they’re the ones taking the credit risk, they get to make the rules. They point to the fact that the statistics don’t lie. It seems that a homeowner’s credit history helps to predict the likelihood of filing a claim. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t do something to help yourself.
How to get lower home insurance quotes.
Remember, every insurance carrier is different. That means you need to shop around! We encourage you to reach out to an independent agency like Atlanta Insurance to get a few quotes to choose from. Why do we suggest an independent agency? Certain agencies are “captive” agencies. In other words, they only work for one insurance company. On the other hand, an independent agency, like Atlanta Insurance, can provide free quotes from many of the top carriers in the nation. This means you have more quotes to choose from.
So, if your homeowners rates have gone up, it means it’s time to shop. Every dollar you save is a dollar earned that can go towards taking care of your family.
How to clean up your credit score and save some money.
If you want to raise your credit score, there are quite a few things that you can do. Doing this proactively will help you next year when it’s time to renew. Here are a few suggestions to protect your credit beginning now:
1. Set a budget.
A budget is a “four-letter word” for many people, yet setting a budget is the key to taking control of your finances and your credit ratings. Some people use the old-fashioned envelope technique. This means setting up an envelope for each of your monthly expenses. Then you pay the envelopes weekly as you get your paycheck. At the end of the month, each envelope will ideally have the money to pay the bill. This means we need to get tough with ourselves.
2. Make your lunch at home.
It’s amazing how many people buy breakfast, lunch, and coffee every day at work. This could easily add to $500 a month on your credit cards. That’s money that could go towards paying the credit card bills. It may not be glamorous, but eat breakfast at home. Make your coffee at home and put it in a thermos to drink with your brown bag lunch. Remember, saving $500 a month is equivalent to saving $6,000 a year. Now that is glamorous!
3. Pay your bills on time.
This requires self-discipline. If you can, use the auto-pay feature so that you pay on time every month. If you can’t, use “auto debit” then set an alarm on your phone to remind you every month when the bills are due.
4. Stop using credit cards.
Just because you have them doesn’t mean that you have to use them. Pay them off one at a time and stick them in a drawer. If you must use them, set a few family rules. For example, in my home, we don’t put anything on the card unless we can pay it off in full by the end of the month. If you have to carry a balance, keep it minimal.
5. Consumer credit counseling.
Talk to a credit specialist to set up a plan that will help you to raise your credit score. There’s no shame in asking for some help to figure out your finances.
Some final encouragement.
Nothing worthwhile is ever easy at first. So stay focused on the prize. Raising your credit score could cut your home insurance rates up to 50%. It will also allow you to get lower interest rates on your credit cards and for any future mortgages. This will save you many thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
Hang in there, Atlanta. Set a budget. Reach out to a consumer credit counselor. Then contact your local Atlanta Insurance agent to get you affordable home insurance quotes to choose from.
If you’d like to get a free quote for your home insurance, let us know! Fill out our quote form or give us a call and we’d be happy to help you build an insurance plan that’s specifically designed for your family.