Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Today's Useless Info

Well, the useless tidbit for today, or actually for tomorrow, is that at two minutes and three seconds after one a.m. on Wednesday, it will be 01:02:03 04/05/06. This will happen again that afternoon and then not for 100 years.

Just to give credit where due, I received this from Michael Watt, of LongIsland.com, though I understand it's circulating the Web all over the place.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Getting Cheap Insurance Quotes, continued

One of the things that has changed over the past five years or so when you shop around for auo and home insurance is that you are asked for your Social Security number. In these days of privacy concerns, that’s not an easy thing to give out, nor is it pleasant for us to ask. However, it’s a ‘fact of life’ now in the business, and in fact, any insurance quote you get without giving your Social Secuity number is, at best, a wild guess, and at worst, a lowball quote. The only exception is in a case where you are specifically told by the agent or company that they are using a company that does NOT do insurance or credit scoring, and that is becoming more and more rare.

These days, most companies have anywhere from 10 to 100 different rating tiers, and your placement depends more on your score than on any other single factor. Some of your rate is, of course, still based on traditional factors like violations and accidents for car insurance, or age of dwelling and nearness to water for home insurance.

But for most companies, your final rate is as much determined by your score as by anything else. Your insurance score is typically made up of about 150 elements, each assigned a weighting. The factors vary from company to company, though a lot are common to most. Those might include home ownership, length of time on your job, and things like that. But the biggest part of your insurance score, make no mistake, is your credit history. Research data companies such as ChoicePoint and Fair Isaac have come up with a whole bunch of characteristics of people that correlate with those who have fewer insurance claims.

In some ways, it’s fairly obvious. I have no trouble believing that the kind of person who pays all their bills on time all the time is also the person who does preventive maintenance on their house and cars which helps reduce both the frequency and severity of claims. But make no mistake, these data companies, and the insurance carriers that are using the data, are not concerned with why there is a difference. They make no claim that having a good credit history is the reason a person has lower claims. They just know that they can show a good historical relationship, and so can use it to give each client what they feel is an appropriate price.

Our office still has carriers for both auto insurance and home insurance that do not require an insurance score, but in both cases, chances are the rate will not be the lowest it could be, even if your credit is not sparkling clean. Still, some people want the option. But if you want the best insurance rates, you can help yourself a lot by working on your credit score.