You’re probably already aware that credit scores are a major factor when you’re buying a home, because your credit score affects the interest rate you get on your mortgage. Considering how big home loans are, a few credit score points could translate into a slightly higher rate, which ultimately can add up to thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan.
Of course, there are many more expenses that come with buying a house than taking out a mortgage. Pretty much everyone takes out homeowners insurance, which can — on average — tack on nearly $100 or so to your monthly homeownership expenses. On top of that, you could be paying higher insurance premiums just because you don’t have a good credit score (here’s an explanation of what qualifies as a “good” credit score).
Across the U.S., homeowners might pay 32% more in annual homeowners insurance premiums if they have fair credit, as opposed to excellent credit, according to a survey from InsuranceQuotes.com.
If you have poor credit, your homeowners insurance can cost twice as much as it would if you had excellent credit. Most states allow insurance underwriters to consider credit history when determining home insurance premiums, though California, Maryland, and Massachusetts do not. In 38 states, plus Washington, DC, people with poor credit pay, on average, twice as much for homeowners insurance as they would if they had excellent credit.
“It’s hard to fathom that bad credit would justify such steep rates on homeowners insurance, but it often is a factor and clearly can be an important one,” said Gerri Detweiler, Credit.com’s director of consumer education. “When I bought my current home a number of years ago, I was told I didn’t get the largest discount for my homeowners insurance due to my credit score, even though I had very little debt and a clean payment history. So I can relate to homeowners who are really frustrated by this practice.”
Insurance underwriters generally use credit-based insurance scores, according to the report from InsuranceQuotes.com, and those scores are based on credit report data such as outstanding debt, length of credit history, late payments, collection accounts, bankruptcy, and credit applications.
There are many expenses that come with being a homeowner, so anything you can do to keep the costs down will likely add up to a lot of savings in the long run. If you didn’t get the lowest rates, consider asking your insurer to reassess your premium after you’ve had time to improve your credit after buying a home. You could also shop around for a new policy as a money-saving tactic, because underwriting practices vary by insurer. To keep tabs on your credit and prepare your score for the test of homeownership, you can get your free credit scores every 30 days on Credit.com.