Key Texas Credit Scoring Study Due

By Daniel Hays

NU Online News Service, Jan. 28, 4 :14 p.m. EST?The second phase of a controversial Texas Insurance Department study on insurer use of credit records to rate customers is due out Monday, Jan. 31, a department representative said.[@@]

“We’re expecting to make it available on our Web site,” said Jim Hurley.

The first phase of the study found there was an accurate correlation between consumer credit scores and their claims activity, and that segments of the population who were younger, black or Hispanic, and low- or moderate-income were not represented in the better scoring segment.

The study, which will provide more data in its next phase, was required by the legislature when it passed a measure in 2003 that permitted the use of credit scoring.

In reaction to the first study’s results, State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, introduced a bill to ban credit scoring.

Jeff Brewer, a representative for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America in Des Plaines, Ill. said the department had drawn no conclusions in its study and the group is “anxiously awaiting” the rest of the study, which will include more data so a complete analysis of the department’s findings can be done.

Mr. Hurley agreed that the department had voiced no conclusions. “We just presented what the data showed us,” he said.

Joseph Annotti, vice president of public affairs for the PCI, said the eventual outcome for credit scoring in Texas could be a “watershed event” because “what Texas does will have a big impact on what other states do.”

He said PCI has so far successfully lobbied against a credit scoring ban in Colorado by doing polling that showed legislators most people in their district believed credit scoring should be permitted.

Insurers, he said, contend that there are people rated with excellent, good and fair credit scores in every segment of the population. “We don’t collect race and income data,” he said.