May 8, 2002                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

Morrison to hold public meeting on credit scoring Insurance companies use credit score to determine home and auto premiums


      State Auditor and Montana Insurance Commissioner John Morrison will hold public meetings in Missoula May 13, and Kalispell and Thompson Falls May 14 to hear from consumers about their experiences with credit scoring.
      A credit score is a number insurance companies assign consumers based on credit experience, which includes bill-paying history, the number and type of accounts, late payments, collection actions, outstanding debt and the age of accounts. Scoring formulas are developed by a third-party vendor or by the insurer itself.
      "My office has received hundreds of calls from consumers who complained about the adverse impact of credit scoring," said Morrison, who plans to propose legislation to deal with the practice. "I want to find out what's happening to Montana consumers so I can propose legislation to deal with this practice fairly."
      The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and Montana law currently allow insurance companies to obtain and use credit information in their underwriting practices.
      Insurance companies have used credit information actively for the last several years to determine a consumer's level of risk before selling or renewing auto, home or renter policies. Some companies also use credit scores to non-renew coverage regardless of whether a claim has been filed or premiums have been paid on time.
      Morrison proposed legislation to the 2001 Legislature that would have limited the use of credit history in underwriting policies. The bill, along with another proposal to completely ban the use of credit scoring by insurance companies, died in committee.
      Morrison, members of his staff and legislators plan to take comment from consumers at public meetings across Montana. The first five meetings are listed below.
      Missoula May 13 7 to 8:30 p.m. DoubleTree, 100 Madison
      Thompson Falls May 14 noon to 1 p.m. Granny's Restaurant
      Kalispell May 14 7 to 8:30 p.m. Outlaw Inn, 1711 Hwy 93 S.
      Billings May 20 7 to 8:30 p.m. Holiday Inn, 5500 Midland Rd.
      Bozeman May 22 7 to 8:30 p.m. GranTree, I-90 and N. 7th Ave.