What role does credit play in setting car insurance premiums?

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I’ve long suggested you shop your insurance when it comes up for renewal. But most people don’t get around to it. Every third year is fine to do it, though some people like to do it every year.

But note this well: There’s no magic in waiting for when the policy comes up for renewal. You can do it any time during your term. It’s just that insurance tends to be front and center on people’s minds when their policy comes up for renewal.

Read more: 10 summer driving hazards and your car insurance

Big price hikes coming from Allstate?

On the question of auto insurance, the September issue of Consumer Reports reports a real inequity in how a lot of insurers are pricing coverage. Many of them will charge a person with a DUI/DWI arrest a lower premium than a person with a perfect driving record who has a poor credit score. Isn’t that crazy?!

The whole credit score thing in insurance drives me to distraction. Some insurers are convinced they can better set premiums based on your credit score than on your driving record. Using a credit score to set insurance rates is legal in 47 states, though it varies widely by insurer as to who is doing it and who isn’t. But if you’re paying more than you think you should be based on your driving record, this could be the reason why.

Read more: Honda to pay $24 million for discriminating against minorities

Consumer Reports continues to recommend that you get insurance through USAA if you or a family member did military service to make you eligible. In comparing premiums among five industry leaders, Consumer Reports found you will pay from a third less to half less with USAA than with guys like Allstate, Progressive, Geico and State Farm.

If you don’t qualify for USAA, the other insurer the magazine recommends is Amica Mutual.

And speaking of Allstate, the company reported crummy numbers in the most recent quarter with profits that were disappointing to Wall Street. Allstate told investors that they are going to make up the shortfall by raising rates on customers, Barron’s magazine reports. So if you’ve got Allstate, you have been warned!

Read more: Choosing the right insurance for you and your family