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In most U.S. states a major factor in determining one's auto insurance rate is their credit score. This rating factor is often a cause for argument from consumers and advocates who claim there should not be a connection between a consumer's credit score and their insurance risk level. However, there is a significant amount of actuarial evidence that shows a connection between one's credit history and their potential for insurance risk. In other words, if you are not responsible with your credit, you may not be a responsible driver, either.

Credit is not permitted as an insurance rating factor for at least one line of insurance in California, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Maryland.

So -- how does the credit scoring game work for insurance carriers? The major vendors providing insurers with credit score information include TransUnion, LexisNexus and FICO. The vast majority of property and casualty insurers -- upwards of around 90 percent -- utilize credit scoring as part of their auto and homeowners insurance rating factors. In fact, according to LexisNexis, over 300 insurers take advantage of their credit scoring product.

Credit is clearly not the only rating factor insurers consider. Insurance companies will look closely at driving record, miles driven, make and model of the vehicle, the address of the policyholder and a number of other criteria when determining one's insurance rate.

Needless to say, it is important for a consumer to maintain a good credit score in order to qualify for lower interest rates. But, it is often equally important (depending on the state in which you reside) when it comes to insurance purchases, as well.