AAA explains how insurance rates will change, impacting most Washington consumers

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Batches of personal insurance policy renewal letters, the first sent since the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) enacted a rule to ban insurance companies from using credit information to set rates, are now arriving in mailboxes and email inboxes around  Washington with some shocking news. AAA wants consumers to understand how this change, made to the entire industry, will impact their personal insurance rates: auto, home, renters, motorcycle, boat, RV, etc. People with low credit scores will celebrate the good news of a rate drop, and consumers with high credit scores should prepare for rates to increase, sometimes more than 20%.

“This rule change will be a shock to people with good credit. Consumers with a high credit score were essentially receiving a discounted rate on their insurance, whether or not they knew it,” explained Patrick McCormick, AAA Washington’s vice president of insurance. “Removing the credit element from determining rates also removes that discount resulting in a more expensive insurance rate, without the consumer doing anything to negatively impact their rate.”

AAA notes, this change will likely put a significant burden on one particular segment of the population — senior citizens with high credit scores and who live on a fixed income.

“Not only do many seniors live on very strict budgets, they generally have higher credit scores. Preventing insurance companies from taking credit into account may create difficult financial times for these Washington residents,” McCormick said.

For consumers with a high credit score who receive notice of a rate increase at renewal time, AAA recommends taking the following steps:

  • Sign up for your insurance company’s Usage Based Insurance. Usage Based Insurance gathers driving behavior information – such as hard braking or accelerating, what time of day you drive the most, and how much you’re driving – in order to more accurately determine your rates.
  • Bundle your home/renters, auto, recreational vehicles and other policies under one company to get a better rate.
  • Talk with your agent about additional discounts that your insurance company offers, such as teen driver safety courses and vehicle safety equipment.
  • In the state of Washington, drivers over 55 years old can received a discount if you take a “Driver Improvement Program” course every two years. This is an 8-hour refresher course and is offered by AAA online: aaa.com/DIP.

There is no membership requirement to purchase insurance coverage through the AAA Washington Insurance Agency, but members do often receive an additional discount. Our agency represents several highly-rated insurance companies and will work to find the best coverage for each client. For additional ways to save on higher insurance costs, visit AAA.com/insurancesavings.