Every day we see signs that the country is starting to claw its way out of the recession. Stocks are creeping up. Job numbers are getting better. The automotive industry is predicting a significantly better year. And state governments are started to get smarter in the ways they protect consumers from the insurance industry. Well. At least the state government in Oregon is getting smarter.
The public has been increasingly aware of the fact that credit scores are now factored into the complex set of variables that are used to calculate coverage rates. During the recession, that’s meant people who really can’t afford it are likely paying more for their policies. And we aren’t talking about deadbeats here. Anybody can have a blip on their credit score and people don’t check often enough or take steps to repair the errors that can and do creep into their credit report.
Oregon has passed a law that allows consumers to ask their insurer to re-price both their auto and homeowners policies once a year. If the consumer’s credit history has improved, then by law, their insurance rates have to be lowered and the company cannot raise the existing rate. The law took effect on January 1 and already more than 8,000 citizens have received lower rates with a savings of more than $800,000 or about $100 per re-pricing request.
This is not only an example of government responding intelligently to what is arguably an industry abuse, but also a sign of the way people are reclaiming their financial fate in the wake of the recession. To some extent our own individual laziness landed us as a nation in financial disarray, mired in personal debt, and subject to even the slightest economic fluctuations. I don’t know what it will really take to end the unfair dominance of insurance in the lives of each of us, but at least in Oregon, this is a truly intelligent piece of regulation.