WA Rep: Bill ending use of credit scores for insurance would lead to rate increase for older drivers

Mar 7, 2021, 7:14 AM | Updated: 9:28 am
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Traffic in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of SDOT/Flickr)
(Photo courtesy of SDOT/Flickr)

The NAACP and other community groups are pushing to end the use of credit scores to help to determine insurance rates, arguing the practice can be racist. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) is chairman of the Senate Business Financial Services and Trade Committee, and is pushing a substitute bill that allows credit scores, but essentially freezes them for three years.

“I don’t agree with that,” Mullet told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH in response to the argument that credit scores are racist. “I mean, it’s very clear that many people would argue that actually when it comes to your driving record, it’s more likely that there could be racial bias in how often people get pulled over and are given tickets than there is through a credit scoring model, which is completely blind to everything except whether somebody pays their bills or not.”

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Why is he pushing the substitute bill instead of the actual bill, which would just flatly deny the ability to use credit scores in determining insurance rates?

“So the main flaw of Commissioner Kreidler’s original bill — the full-out ban — is you basically have over two million people in Washington would have a substantial increase in their insurance rates, like $200-300 a year, and you have some people who would have a decrease,” he explained. “Obviously, the main flaw to me is you’re just subsidizing, so people who traditionally file fewer claims that tend to be older drivers — I mean, to be super blunt, the big correlation is your credit score and your age.”

Mullet says his replacement bill takes into account the impact of COVID-19, but allows drivers to still get the benefits.

“People over the age of 50 tend to have better credit scores,” he said. “They also tend to file a lot fewer claims when it comes to driving. Whereas younger people in their 20s and 30s have lower credit scores, they also tend to file a lot more claims. And in his original bill, if you were over the age of 50, there is a two thirds probability you’re going to have a huge increase in your insurance rates.”

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“Whereas a substitute bill just says clearly your credit score cannot — for the next three years, if it goes down because of COVID, it doesn’t harm you. But if it goes up, you still get the discount. You still get the benefits,” Mullet said. “So I’m supporting the substitute bill because of the current people, predominately a lot of people over the age of 50 of all races and all income levels — they all tend to have better credit scores. Those people wouldn’t get penalized like they would in the underlying bill from the commissioner.”

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WA Rep: Bill ending use of credit scores for insurance would lead to rate increase for older drivers