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Insurance Credit Scoring

Isn’t it interesting that the score most important in our financial lives, our consumer credit score does not even contain full disclosure? As stated above the Federal Trade Commission has ruled that it is OK for Fair Isaac & Co not to disclose the algorithms used in this process, but what about consumer rights.

While it is important to understand what a FICO score is, it is not the main issue of this paper, insurance rates are. So where is the connection? All the public knows is that Fair Isaac tells us there is a high correlation between people with bad credit and high risk drivers. This notion is insane and from what I can see from this black box approach, there is no real causation between the two.

This type of reasoning is similar to convicting a person of something before they have even committed a crime. For instance, let’s say I do a study and that study shows there is a high correlation between criminals and people with bad credit. Is this to say that just because you have bad credit you are more likely to commit a crime and therefore you should be profiled or perhaps locked up because you are a risk to society?

This system is discriminating against minorities, disabled and in my case college students among others. Fair Isaac & Co claims that they cannot show the sophisticated algorithms they use to calculate these correlations and scores because they fear that they would be giving up valuable proprietary information that was very costly to develop and maintain. What about the cost to consumer’s who may be paying higher rates or in worse cases even denied insurance based on these practices.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act forbids creditors from considering race, sex, marital status, national origin, and religion, but if we don’t even know how these companies are calculating these scores, how in the world could we possibly know whether or not they are discriminating. This smoke and mirror approach is what many government agencies do to subtly discriminate and extort money from the American.

What about extortion? As I reflect on this topic extortion comes to mind. Webster defines extortion as to “obtain by force or compulsion.” By using such unfounded tactics consumers are forced into paying the higher rates. First of all, 90% of all insurance companies use this procedure; secondly in the interest of society legislation requires all Americans with cars to have car insurance. Living in a country where it is virtually impossible to live without a car doesn’t this present some force to pay the rates? Also, lets say you cannot afford to buy a car with cash, in which case you could obtain liability insurance alone and save quite a lot of money; but instead you take out a loan, the bank will require you to obtain full coverage auto insurance to cover them until you pay off the loan. While this case may not represent an extreme case of extortion it does give reason to ponder the connection.

Insurance companies tout themselves as representing peace of mind, protection and security, but at what cost. Over the past 10 years, I have spent roughly 20,000 dollars in car insurance, what have I claimed? Easily less than half and I totaled a car. Is insurance just a form of legalized gambling protected by government? The McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1944 exempts the insurance industry from antitrust laws, so here we are again without a choice; collusion is the rule not competition. Where are the ethics of lawmakers? Many states are screaming about this controversial issue and some states such as California have had some success, but with protection from top government what can consumers do?