Insurance News

Credit Scoring Data Call Plans Mulled By NAIC

Posted on: December 12, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO ?The National Association of Insurance Commissioners Property & Casualty Committee chairman said the panel will begin exploring how to gather data on insurers’ use of credit information to determine premiums.

The committee would like to collect information and develop a report on the controversial credit scoring issue by the third quarter of 2010, according to Illinois Insurance Director and Committee Chair Michael McRaith.

During a committee meeting at the NAIC Winter National Meeting held here, Mr. McRaith said he plans to schedule a public conference call in January, during which regulators will discuss how to approach developing a set of questions designed to procure information from individual insurers on how they use consumers? credit information.

Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas Sullivan, recalling a question he asked in March when the Property & Casualty Committee and Market Regulation and Consumer Affairs Committee first sought permission to hold a joint hearing on credit-based insurance scores, asked, ?What would be our endgame [in further examining the credit issue]? What are we trying to get at??

Director McRaith responded that the purpose of the information and report will be to discern the rhetoric from the facts in order to provide accurate information to those who need it.

Credit scoring has been attacked by opponents as failing to account for major impacts such as large medical expenses and unfairly impacting low income and minority consumers. Insurers respond that it is a proven underwriting technique that rewards persons who are good risks.

Mr. McRaith said if there is going to be ?significant change? in the states on credit-based insurance scores, it will likely be through laws passed by state legislatures.

?My view is the service we should provide is information,? Director McRaith said. He added that regulators cannot attempt to resolve the social or policy questions surrounding the credit issue, ?but we can inform those who have that responsibility with some objective, factual data about the impact on consumers.?

One area the committee wants to understand better is the range of impact of insurance scores on consumers. South Carolina Insurance Director Scott Richardson said his department did a data call in his state asking how insurers used credit information. Director Richardson said he was ?stunned? at the impact credit had on rates.

For homeowners insurance, Director Richardson said credit accounted for savings in a range of 7.6 percent to 51 percent per policy for consumers that benefited from their insurance score and a surcharge of 1 percent to 86 percent for consumers who were adversely affected.

For auto insurance, Director Richardson noted, consumers benefited up to 36 percent per policy, and were adversely impacted by a range of 12 percent to 99 percent.

He stressed that he did not know how many people were in the extreme ranges, but indicated that is information regulators should seek to collect.

Commissioner Sullivan, while offering support for the collection of data, wondered where it ends, and whether the committee will start examining other areas beyond credit. ?This could be endless,? he said.

In fact, Director Richardson pointed out that regulators may want to get a handle on what factors insurers use to determine rates beyond credit. He said the technical aspects of underwriting have gotten to a point ?where we need to talk about what is fair.?

And in September, Director McRaith indicated he would like to take a look at marital status as a rating factor.

For now, though, Director McRaith said the goal is to ?identify questions that we want answers to, and not with the intent of attacking or antagonizing an industry or any one company.?

A second component, he said, would be to explore regulating advisory companies that develop credit-based insurance scores. To do that, Directory McRaith said, the NAIC would have to develop a model law for states that don?t have the authority to regulate these companies.

Dave Snyder, American Insurance Association vice president and associate general counsel, said the issue of credit has been reviewed and re-reviewed and has been shown to be compliant with the law and beneficial to the market and a large majority of consumers.

© Copyright 2009 National Underwriter Property & Casualty. A Summit Business Media publication. All Rights Reserved.

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