What are the biggest factors that determine your auto insurance rates? Not what you think

- Driving in the D.C region is not cheap. After a monthly car payment, paying for gas and money for maintenance – there is still the matter of auto insurance.

While your age, residence and type of vehicle all factor into determining your payment - what really matters is your financial worthiness.

"Things like your credit score, whether you rent a home or own home, your occupation, your educational level. These things have tremendous impacts on the rates you'll pay,"said Kevin Brasler

Consumers Checkbook Magazine investigated how credit can impact how much you pay for insurance - weighing it against what we think of as traditional risk factors like accidents and tickets.

Take this scenario for example: If a 38-year-old single woman in Arlington with excellent credit , no accidents, and no tickets is involved in an accident that was her fault, her insurance would go up $356.

If she got two tickets in one year, her rate would go up nearly $600.

But if her credit dropped from excellent to fair, that driver could then expect her rating to up by $900. And that's with a clean driving record.

The insurance companies will tell you they're rating according to the risks. This is what they say over and over again, said Brasler. "And the risk to them is the financial risk that somebody will file a claim or not."

Brasler said it is true that someone with fair credit or poor credit is more likely to file a claim than somebody with excellent credit. However, he said, there is no link between how well they drive and their credit score.

Consumers Checkbook says people with lower credit are underinsured because they can't afford the best coverage and that ends up costing everybody in the long run. When an accident claim is filed against them, Checkbook says, their coverage isn't enough to fix the damage to your vehicle.

Check out Consumers Checkbook online: https://www.checkbook.org/fox5/auto-insurance

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