SALT LAKE CITY – Most home buyers know their credit goes a long way in determining what sort of home loan they'll get, and how much they'll pay in interest.
What many might not know, is they'll pay more to insure their home and valuables if they've got poor credit and that difference between good and bad credit could mean paying thousands of dollars more for home insurance.
A recent Insurance.com study found the average homeowner with bad credit pays 122% more for their premiums than their neighbor with good credit. That's more than double. But, that's the national average.
In Utah, that number jumps way, way up to 278% — nearly four times higher for an insurance premium.
Insurance.com found the average premium on a $300,000 policy with a $1,000 deductible and $300,000 liability coverage for a homeowner with good credit is $1,126. Compare that to the $4,254 the average homeowner with poor credit pays – a difference of $3,128.
"Insurance companies use credit as a predictor of risk," said Michelle Megna, site editor of Insurance.com.
Some consumer advocates call it unfair and discriminatory, and it's a no-no in three states – California, Maryland, and Massachusetts. Utah isn't on that list.
Insurers argue the statistical link between credit and insurability is really strong.
"According to their research, they find people with lower credit scores, bad credit, file more claims and that costs them more money," explained Megna. "So, they don't like that."
So, what can you do?
Certainly, work on your credit for one: stuff like reducing debt, paying bills on time and not using all your available credit.
Megna also suggested shopping around for a different insurer, even if your credit is a little rundown.
Not all insurers weigh credit equally.
"If you've had a major change in your credit – one way or another – that's another good time to really shop around because that will certainly affect how much you pay," Megna said.
Credit certainly isn't the only factor: There's location, the age and construction type of your home and your prior claim history.
The general rule of thumb there is if your home needs a minor fix that costs less than your deductible – it might make sense to pay for it out of your pocket.
Otherwise, you face a higher premium for filing claims for relatively smaller repairs.