The FTC's Bureau of Economics relased their FACTA study, which concludes that:
- Credit scores effectively predict ... the total cost of [auto insurance] claims.
- Credit scores permit insurers to evaluate risk with greater accuracy, which may make them more willing to offer insurance to higher-risk consumers ... . [note: this is why you can call up GEICO, let them look at your credit report, and get an auto insurance quote over the phone].
- ..as a group, African-Americans and Hispanics tend to have lower scores than non-Hispanic whites and Asians.
- ...scores effectively predict risk of claims within racial and ethnic groups.
- The Commission could not develop an alternative scoring model that would continue to predict risk effectively, yet decrease the differences in scores among racial and ethnic groups.
Theory tells us that in states which ban the use of credit scores to price insurance (California and Massassachusetts) insurance companies would find it more costly to distinguish high from low risks, so they may lump them together (called "pooling"), and price insurance at the average risk. Or they may be concerned that only high risks would be willing to buy high-priced insurance (what economists call "adverse selection") and price high or, if price controls prevent high prices, exit the market.
I would be curious if any of our readers know of novel uses of credit scores as a screening mechanism, or if they have developed better predictors (point 5) in a particular application, like pricing insurance or screening job applicants.