The insurance commissioner’s emergency rule temporarily banning insurers’ use of credit information took effect on June 20, 2021, and the formal rule-making process is underway. The ban applies to all private auto, homeowner, and renter insurance sold in Washington state.

Now is the best time to shop for auto or homeowner insurance in more than 20 years.

From Consumer Reports :“The smart way to save on car insurance: Your loyalty to one company for long stretches of time may be costing you money”

Why the insurance commissioner took action against credit scoring now:

Insurance rates cannot be excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, under state law. This gives the commissioner the authority to enact rules that protect consumers and that provide fair regulation of the insurance industry…

Kreidler looks at rulemaking to prevent the practice; what homeowners should know in the meantime

Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is taking steps to close a little-known loophole in homeowner insurance policies but encourages homeowners to check their policies in the meantime.

At issue is some insurers’ use of depreciating labor costs for homeowner insurance claims that involve repairs. Depreciation in insurance terms means a decrease in the value of property over time, usually as the result of wear and tear from use, deterioration or obsolescence. For example, if your dishwasher causes a leak that damages your flooring and cabinets, your insurer will depreciate the cabinet and flooring based on their condition and the…

You’re watching the housing market soar and thinking about that equity you’re building. Great! But now think about what it would cost to rebuild your home if it were destroyed — or even partially damaged.

And lumber costs are up. Way up. A local construction company reported to us that typical lumber (2x4, 4x4, 2x8, etc.) went up 20% from March to August last year. Plywood went up 130%, steel 6%, cut stone 7.5% and windows 3.5%. This means the costs to rebuild your home are also way up.

These increased construction costs may change how much coverage you need…

For the first time in more than two decades in Washington, the insurers selling you auto insurance cannot use your credit information to determine how much you’ll pay. Your premium must be based on factors such as how you drive, how far you drive, any driving citations and what you drive.

An emergency regulation from Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler temporarily bans the insurance industry’s use of credit scoring starting on summer solstice, June 20.

Summer in 2021 starts on June 20 — photo from The Old Farmer’s Almanac

If you’re a good driver with some past hits to your credit score, shopping around for new auto coverage after June 20 could save you significant…

The top 10 companies offering auto insurance in Washington have filed new rating factors without the use of credit scores, complying with an emergency rule that takes effect June 20.

Combined, these 10 companies command 60% of the market share in the state. Their filings — which were due May 6 — offer additional proof that insurers can pivot quickly to serve consumers.

Graphic showing Top 10 companies that sell auto insurance in Washington state as of 2020, comprising 60% of the state’s market share
Graphic showing Top 10 companies that sell auto insurance in Washington state as of 2020, comprising 60% of the state’s market share

But you wouldn’t know that from recent messages from the industry associations. Just last week they claimed the “complex operational changes” necessary to comply meant “many” companies would be unable to meet the deadline.

Instead, well over…

April is National Volunteer Recognition Month and every year we recognize the volunteers in Washington state who help people make decisions about Medicare.

Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors logo from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner
Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors logo from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner

Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors, also known as SHIBA, are part of the Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner. A network of trained volunteer counselors help people statewide understand their Medicare insurance options and rights. SHIBA provides free, unbiased and confidential help with all kinds of Medicare-related questions and issues.

It is an understatement to say that 2020 was a challenging year. Our 300 SHIBA volunteers stepped up in the midst of once-in-a-century pandemic to help…

Early last summer, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler signaled his intent to propose legislation banning insurers from using consumers’ credit information. A month later, when the country began confronting its long history of racial injustice and major corporations — including top insurers — voiced their commitment to racial equity, Kreidler asked industry CEOs to join him in his effort to ban credit scoring.

The silence was deafening.

But based on what we know now, it really wasn’t shocking.

The CEOs of major insurers across the country expressed their commitment to racial justice through social media posts and ad campaigns. Throughout the…

Comprehensive auto insurance should cover the repair cost — here’s what to watch for if you file a claim

Thefts of catalytic converters from cars are on the rise everywhere. In Seattle and King County, reported thefts increased 3,800% in the past year. In January 2021 alone, Seattle police reported 123 thefts. Thieves sell them and it’s reported that Toyota Prius vehicles are frequent targets.

KIRO recently reported on the phenomenon, including what is driving these thefts

A catalytic converter is part of a gas-powered vehicle’s exhaust system and the EPA requires them on all cars. They are mounted underneath the car.

Here’s a graphic that was distributed by the San Bruno, Calif. Police Department:

Courtesy of the San Bruno, Calif., Police Department

Anyone who has a…

A bill to ban insurance companies from using your credit information to determine how much you pay for auto and homeowners insurance is working its way through Washington’s Legislature. Insurers have argued that credit information is a good predictor of the likelihood you’ll file a claim in the future and there’s nothing unfair about it. They’re just assessing risk and isn’t that what insurance is all about?

Yes and no.

Scores of 690 or above are considered good credit.

Insurance companies can use any factor to set rates as long as they can actuarially justify its use and it doesn’t discriminate against protected classes of people. While insurers do…

For more than two decades, insurance companies have used your credit score to determine how much you pay for auto, homeowner, renters and other types of insurance. They file complex rating models with insurance commissioners across the country, claiming these scores predict who will file claims in the future. After all, insurance is about avoiding risk.

But what does your credit information have to do with how you drive your car or maintain your property? Shouldn’t your insurance premium be based on these factors or on how many claims you’ve filed and the cost of those claims?

What would…

WA State Office of the Insurance Commissioner

Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler regulates the insurance industry and protects insurance consumers.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store