Looking for electric car insurance when you have bad credit is difficult, especially when it’s hard enough to find cheap electric car insurance in the first place.
If you have a bad credit score, it’s worth taking time to understand how credit scores influence the accessibility and cost of your car insurance policy. In this article, we take a full look at the relationship between your credit score and car insurance.
We’ll explore whether insurance companies check your credit, the effects of insurance quotes on your credit score, and how issues like Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) can impact your ability to pay monthly for car insurance.
We’ll run through the options available for people who need car insurance without a credit check and provide actionable advice on how to navigate the insurance landscape with a bad credit score.
Electric Car Insurance for Bad Credit
How to Compare Car Insurance for Bad Credit
Comparing car insurance options when you have bad credit requires caution because you do not want to make your credit score worse. Here’s how you should approach it:
- Start with Research
Begin by researching insurance companies that are known to offer policies to individuals with bad credit or those that place less emphasis on credit scores in their pricing models.
- Use Comparison Websites
Utilise online comparison tools and websites to get quotes from multiple insurers simultaneously. These platforms can save you time by aggregating quotes based on your specific needs and circumstances, including your credit situation.
- Inquire About Discounts
Even with bad credit, you may be eligible for various discounts. Ask about discounts for safe driving, multiple policies, vehicle safety features, defensive driving courses, and more. These discounts can significantly lower your premiums.
- Consider Higher Excess
Opting for a higher excess can lower your premium. This means you’ll pay more out of pocket in the event of a claim, but it can make your monthly payments more affordable. Assess your financial situation to determine if this is a viable option for you.
- Contact Insurance Agents Directly
Speaking with car insurance companies that are not on comparison sites can get you personalised advice and potentially uncover options that comparison tools may not highlight. Agents can also clarify any questions about how your credit score affects your insurance options.
Can I Get Car Insurance with a Bad Credit Score?
Having a history of bad credit doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get car insurance cover, especially if you’re able to pay the entire premium upfront. When an insurer calculates your premium, they consider various factors, including your driving history, the type of car you drive, and where you live. Your credit history can play a part, but it does not always mean that you won’t get offered insurance or have to pay higher rates if you’re prepared to pay in full at the start of the policy.
The situation becomes tricky if you prefer to pay your car insurance premiums on a monthly basis. Insurance companies, like any other creditor, seek reassurance that their customers can manage regular payments without defaulting. Monthly insurance premiums are essentially a credit agreement, and as with any other form of credit, the insurer will take steps to mitigate risk — this includes conducting a credit check.
These checks are a standard procedure to assess financial reliability. If the credit assessment reveals significant concerns, the insurer may determine that the risk of offering a monthly payment plan is too high and thus might not extend this option to you.
This does not mean that all doors are closed. Insurers are aware that credit histories can be complex and that the score alone does not tell the whole story.
Some insurance companies may still offer you coverage, albeit with different terms, such as a higher excess or a premium that reflects the perceived risk.
Do Car Insurance Companies Check Your Credit?
If you’re using a comparison website to compare electric car insurance quotes, it’s standard for providers to look at your credit score. This is part of their process to understand who they’re potentially insuring.
If you opt for monthly payments, insurance companies will typically perform a full credit check before finalising your policy. This is because monthly payments are a form of credit agreement; you’re essentially borrowing the annual cost of the insurance and repaying it over time.
There is a big difference between these types of credit checks. When you’re getting a quote, insurers should only execute what’s known as a ‘soft search’. A soft search is a preliminary glance at your credit file that does not affect your credit score. These searches are not visible to lenders; they’re for your eyes and the credit reference agency’s records only. This is similar to the checks done by eligibility calculators, which aim to determine what products you may qualify for without impacting your credit standing.
On the other hand, a ‘hard search’ is a more in-depth look at your credit file. This type of search is visible to other lenders and can influence your credit score. Hard searches can leave a footprint that may affect future credit applications, especially if there are several hard searches in a short period, which might signal to lenders that you’re desperately seeking credit.
Now, why would an insurer check your credit history in the first place? The cost of your car insurance is tailored to your unique profile, which includes a range of personal details such as your name, address, job, marital status, and history of insurance claims. Insurers request this information to assess the risk and determine your premium accurately.
For instance, residing in an area with higher crime rates might increase your premium compared to living in a safer neighbourhood. Similarly, if you’ve filed insurance claims in the past, you’re likely to face higher rates than someone with a clean claims record. The soft credit check is part of this assessment process, ensuring that the details you’ve provided match up with your credit history. It’s a routine step that helps insurers confirm your identity and financial reliability without leaving a lasting mark on your credit score.
Does Getting Car Insurance Quotes Affect Your Credit Score?
Getting car insurance quotes does not affect your credit score. When you are shopping for car insurance and gathering quotes, insurance companies may check your credit with a “soft” credit inquiry, which does not affect your credit score.
The situation changes when you decide to take out an insurance policy. If you pay the annual premium for your car insurance upfront, you’re not entering into a credit agreement, and as such, this transaction won’t be recorded in your credit file or impact your credit score.
On the other hand, if you opt to pay for your car insurance every month, this constitutes a credit agreement. You’re receiving your insurance coverage up front and agreeing to pay for it over time, much like you would with a loan or credit card. In this scenario, the insurer will typically perform a “hard” credit check before setting up the payment plan, which could leave a mark on your credit file. This hard inquiry could potentially have a slight impact on your credit score.
Should I Check My Credit Score Before Buying Car Insurance?
It can be a good idea to check your credit score before buying car insurance, especially since your credit history might influence your insurance rates. Knowing your credit score gives you a clearer picture of what insurers see when they assess your risk profile. If your credit score is high, you can anticipate potentially lower insurance premiums, as insurers often correlate good credit with lower risk. Conversely, if your credit score is not as strong, you might face higher premiums, as companies might view you as a higher risk.
Checking your credit score beforehand also allows you to identify and correct any errors that might negatively impact your insurance rates.
Understanding your credit score can help you make a more informed decision about how you choose to pay for your car insurance. If your credit is excellent, you might feel more confident opting for a monthly payment plan, knowing that the credit check likely won’t pose an obstacle. If your credit is bad, you might decide to take steps to improve it before applying for insurance, or you may choose to pay the premium upfront if possible, to avoid the higher costs associated with lower credit scores.
Does Paying Insurance Build Credit?
Paying for car insurance on a monthly basis can help build your credit, as these payments are treated similarly to an ‘instalment loan.’ When you opt for monthly payments, this activity is recorded on your credit report. Consistently making these payments in full and on time can positively affect your credit score over time, demonstrating your reliability as a borrower.
However, it’s important to be aware of the flip side. If you’re late on a payment or miss one entirely, it can negatively impact your credit rating. This could not only damage your credit score but could also lead to your insurer canceling your policy, leaving you without coverage.
To mitigate the risk of missed or late payments, setting up a direct debit payment with your bank is a good idea. This ensures that your insurance payments are automatically taken from your account each month, helping you maintain consistent payments and potentially building your credit score in the process.
Can I Get Monthly Car Insurance with an IVA?
It is possible to get monthly car insurance with an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), but it may come with certain challenges. An IVA is a formal and legally binding agreement between you and your creditors to pay back debts over a period of time, and it can affect how lenders and service providers view your financial stability.
When your car insurance is up for renewal and you’re under an IVA, you might encounter some pushback from insurance brokers regarding the offer of a monthly payment plan.
Their preference may lean towards receiving an upfront payment for the policy in full, as this presents less financial risk for them. However, if you’re on a strict budget, which is often the case with individuals in an IVA, a large upfront payment might not be feasible.
The encouraging news is that not all brokers will have the same policy regarding IVAs. Some insurance providers understand that customers may have financial constraints and still offer the flexibility of monthly payments. It will require some diligence on your part to shop around and find these accommodating brokers. You may be subject to higher premiums though, insurers may consider you to be a higher risk because of the IVA, which could reflect in the cost of your insurance.
What Is Considered a Good Credit Score?
When it comes to understanding a good credit score, there isn’t a universally accepted number that fits the bill. Credit scores can vary significantly between different credit reporting agencies and lenders, each of whom may have their own criteria for what they consider an acceptable credit risk. This variability means that while you might be an attractive borrower to one lender, you might not meet the criteria for another based on your credit score alone.
For context, credit scores typically range from 0 to 999. According to Experian, one of the leading credit reporting agencies, a “good” credit score is considered to be within the range of 881 to 960. Scores that fall within this range indicate to lenders that the individual is a reliable borrower with a strong history of managing credit well. Meanwhile, a score deemed “fair” or average falls between 721 and 880. This range suggests that the borrower has a decent credit history but may not be as low-risk as those in the “good” category.
What Can Lead to a Bad Credit Score?
A bad credit score can result from a variety of circumstances, here’s a number of common issues that can lead to a bad credit score:
- Late or Missed Payments
Payment history is a significant factor in your credit score. Late or missed payments on loans, credit cards, or other bills can significantly harm your score.
- Defaulting on Loans
Failing to repay loans as agreed can lead to defaults being recorded on your credit report, which can severely damage your credit score.
Declaring bankruptcy has a significant negative impact on your credit score, signalling to lenders that you were unable to meet your debt obligations.
- High Levels of Debt
Carrying high levels of debt, especially in relation to your income, can lower your credit score.
How to Improve Your Credit Score
Improving your credit score is important if you want to secure monthly car insurance with bad credit. One of the most crucial steps in this process is ensuring timely payment of all your bills, including credit cards, loans, and even utilities. This demonstrates financial responsibility and positively impacts your payment history, a key component of your credit score. Setting up automatic payments or reminders can be an effective strategy to avoid late payments.
Regular monitoring of your credit reports is essential for maintaining a good credit score. Errors on your credit report can negatively affect your score, so it’s important to check your reports regularly from the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, and dispute any inaccuracies you may find.
Try to limit hard inquiries on your credit report, as these can lower your score. Apply for new credit sparingly, ensuring it’s only when truly needed.
Why Else Might You Be Refused Car Insurance?
As we have discussed, many insurers use credit scores to assess risk, under the theory that financial responsibility correlates with driving responsibility. A poor credit history might lead to a refusal, especially if the insurer relies heavily on credit information.
What other reasons are there why an insurance company might decide not to offer you cover? Here are some common factors that could lead to being refused car insurance:
- Vehicle Type
Insuring certain types of vehicles can be riskier or more expensive for insurance companies. Check which insurance group your EV falls into, High-performance cars, vehicles with a high theft rate, or very old vehicles might not be eligible for coverage with some insurers.
- Poor Driving Record
A history of traffic accidents or convictions can make you a high-risk driver in the eyes of insurers. High-risk drivers are more likely to be refused coverage because they’re seen as more likely to file claims.
- Lapses in Previous Coverage
If you’ve had gaps in your car insurance coverage, insurers might view you as a higher risk. Continuous insurance coverage is often seen as an indicator of a responsible and financially stable individual.
Living in an area with high crime rates, a high incidence of car thefts, or a high risk of natural disasters can affect your eligibility for insurance.
- Insurance History
If you have a history of filing numerous claims, especially if they’re for minor incidents, insurers might view you as too high a risk.
- Age and Experience
Very young drivers or those with very little driving experience might be refused by some insurers due to a perceived higher risk of accidents.
The Final Word on Car Insurance for Bad Credit
It can be difficult to get electric car insurance with bad credit, yet it’s not impossible.
The key takeaway here is that getting a quote for car insurance has no impact on your credit score because insurers perform what’s known as a “soft search.” This preliminary check is used to estimate your premiums without affecting your credit rating, ensuring that your inquiry into potential insurance costs remains a neutral action in terms of credit assessment.
The point at which your credit score matters is if you decide to pay for your car insurance monthly. At this point, since monthly payments are essentially treated as a credit agreement, the amount you wish to pay is divided into monthly payments along with an initial deposit. Insurers may conduct a “hard search” to finalise the cover.
This process shows how important it is to keep working to improve your financial health. As your credit score improves, you may be able to access monthly no deposit car insurance plans. Remember that while your credit score plays a role in determining your insurance premiums, it’s just one of many factors insurers consider.
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John is the Editor and Spokesperson for Electric Car Guide.
With over 20 years of writing experience, he has written for titles such as City AM, FE News and NerdWallet.com, covering various automotive and personal finance topics.
John’s market commentary has been covered by the likes of The Express, The Independent, Yahoo Finance and The Evening Standard.