Consumer Alert: Bad credit? High auto insurance rates? Here’s how to find the best for less

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – This consumer alert is all about putting the power in your hands. Last week we told you about a report revealing that if you have bad credit, you pay hundreds, sometimes thousands more for car insurance.

Viewers contacted News10NBC’s Deanna Dewberry wanting to know what they can do about it. We can use our power as consumers. You pay for auto insurance. They provide a service for you. So you can fire them, and hire another with better rates.

The study done by the Consumer Federation of America found New Yorkers with a clean driving record and bad credit pay on average $1,367 more than those with a clean record and excellent credit. And get this. A New Yorker with bad credit and a clean driving record pays hundreds of dollars more than a New Yorker with a DWI conviction and excellent credit. The study found some insurers put more weight on your credit score than others.

“For example, USAA, which is a nationwide insurer that covers veterans and their families, had one of the smaller splits,” said Kaveh Waddell, a deputy editor with Consumer Reports. “It was about a 71 percent increase between people with poor or excellent credit. Now that sounds like a lot, and it gets a lot bigger from there. Progressive for example, one of the biggest insurers in the country, people with poor credit were getting quoted a rate that was 15 times larger per year than someone with excellent credit.”

Consumer Reports leader say that’s why it pays to take a look at your insurance once a year, and shop around for a better plan. But they warn you don’t want to bounce around too much because that can also result in higher premiums. To help with your search, they surveyed more than 40,000 members and analyzed price, customer service, and whether the terms were easy to understand. “Consumer Reports recommends the big ones that you see on TV for example, but also consider some of the smaller or regional insurers,” said Waddell. “We found sometimes both the premiums are lower and sometimes the service you get can be better.”

Here are the top five insurers according to Consumer Reports:

· USAA Insurance Group

· NJM Insurance Group

· Amica

· Erie Insurance Group


· Acuity

Click here to see the rest of the insurers listed in Consumer Reports’ ranking.

Click here for Consumer Reports’ auto insurance buying guide.

After picking insurers on the list, you can get quotes on each site. Right now, New York legislators are considering a bill that would make it illegal to use your credit score to determine your rate. Another way of exercising your power is contacting your representative to make your feelings known.