Plan limits auto insurance rate hikes in Nevada

Assembly Democrats are proposing a bill to block insurers from boosting rates of Nevada drivers based on bad credit records.

But the plan will be opposed by insurance company lobbyists who see a link between bad credit and bad driving. Most insurers consider credit reports when determining insurance premiums.

"This policy targets the average working person who is living from paycheck to paycheck, perhaps struggling a bit to pay their bills on time," said Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, who's cosponsoring the bill.

"If they have to pay a higher premium because once in a while their credit is not where it should be -- that is not fair."

Insurance industry studies show that people who are irresponsible with credit or don't pay their bills could become poor insurance risks, lobbyist said.

"Their (Assembly Democrats) argument is, 'Hey, I'm a good driver. Just because I did not pay my bills on time does not make me a bad driver," said James Wadhams, a lobbyist for the American Insurance Association.

"Studies have tracked that people with bad credit statistically have a poor driving experience," Wadhams said. "The policy question is: Is that a fair determination to make when you price your insurance?"

Cliff King of the Nevada Division of Insurance, said more than 90 percent of the auto insurance carriers who offer coverage in Nevada use credit reports to determine premiums.

Nevada's top five auto insurance companies, Farmers, All State, State Farm, Progressive and AAA, use credit information to help determine premiums, said Sam Sorich of the National Association of Independent Insurers.

"Credit scores are not the sole factors in determining premiums, but it is one of the factors used," Sorich said. Other factors include driving record, arrest record, distances driven, age and type of vehicle insured, he said.

Similar legislation was killed in the Senate Commerce Committee two years ago.


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