Dear friends and neighbors,
Washington state’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) recently issued an emergency rule to prevent credit scores from being used to determine insurance premiums.
This might mean a change in your insurance rates, and many of you have reached out with questions and concerns about your rates increasing. Below is some information to clarify the changes and help you get assistance, including help in other languages.
Why the rule change?
Because of the pandemic, the federal CARES Act placed a temporary hold on credit scoring, resulting in bureaus collecting inaccurate credit histories. Because insurers use these credit histories to set rates, the models they use are now unreliable.
The OIC issued an emergency rule to ban the use of credit scores in setting insurance premiums for the next three years, which will help ensure that insurance rates are not excessive or unfairly discriminatory. With the pandemic causing devastating financial struggles across the state, this rule change helps protect low income and other vulnerable people who would otherwise have experienced unfair treatment due to their credit score.
The new rule is designed to protect those most greatly impacted by the pandemic from having to pay even higher premiums. It will also help people who will see their credit scores drop after federal CARES Act protections end.
97 percent of the auto and homeowner insurance market has already filed plans to comply with the new rule. Click here to learn more about the OIC’s emergency rule and credit scoring.
If you want more information on why the rule was necessary, here are some resources you can check out:
Read the CARES ACT BILL here. The information on credit protections is in Section 4021.
What you can do if your premiums increased
The OIC estimated that similar numbers of Washingtonians will see rate increases as those who see rate decreases. Early estimates showed that some people could see up to 60 percent reductions in their rates.
If you have received a rate increase, you can contact your company and let them know you’ll be shopping around for better rates. For many of us, looking for new coverage is a great opportunity to save more money.
You can also leave a comment for the OIC on their website. They want to hear from you and how you might have been impacted by credit scoring.
Do you have hearing loss or is English not your first language?
No worries! The OIC can help those who have limited ability reading, speaking, writing or understanding English. They can also help people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech impairments. They offer help in other languages including American Sign Language.
We encourage you to call the OIC at 800-562-6900 for help answering your insurance questions.
When you click on the links below you’ll go to a page in that language that includes links to specific insurance issues. If your specific issue is not translated or you want information in a language that is not listed below, call the OIC (800-562-6900). More often than not, they will be able to get you what you need.
We hope this information will help address your concerns and point you in the right direction. Please don’t hesitate to contact our offices with your feedback or questions.
Rep. Mia Gregerson & Rep. Tina Orwall