Washington's Statewide Poverty Action Network has awarded Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler a "2010 Leadership Award" for his repeated efforts to ban the use of credit scoring by insurers.
At Kreidler's urging, state lawmakers in 2002 and then-Gov. Gary Locke approved some of the nation's strongest limits on the controversial practice. As a result, insurance companies in Washington cannot cancel or decide not to renew someone's coverage due solely to credit score. They also cannot use certain credit-related factors to deny coverage or set rates, such as the number of credit inquiries.
Nonetheless, most insurers today still use credit as a key factor in setting rates.
Kreidler maintains that the practice is inherently unfair and penalizes drivers, for example, due to factors that have nothing to do with how they drive. Earlier this year, he called for legislation flatly banning credit scoring by insurers. The bill, opposed by the insurance industry, did not pass.
"Nonetheless, profiling the fact that this practice inappropriately disadvantages people by income will continue to be a focus of this office," said Kreidler.