For Consumers

Kreidler: Legislature can keep credit scoring ban proposal alive

Insurers’ use of credit information punishes thousands in Washington

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March 10, 2021

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said the Legislature can still help consumers even though the state Senate did not advance his original proposal to ban the unfair use of credit scores. 

Kreidler said Senate designation of his original bill, SB 5010, as necessary to implement the state budget would allow it to receive full consideration in the Legislature. The bill did not  move out of the Senate by a March 9 deadline.

“I have my fingers crossed that legislators will still take action to help communities of color and individuals with low incomes by banning the insurance industry’s insidious use of credit scoring,” Kreidler said. “There’s huge support for the bill in its original form. There’s still time to take action to benefit so many in our state.”

The original bill is supported by the Alaska, Oregon and Washington conference of the NAACP; the Washington Build Back Black Alliance; AARP; the Poverty Action Network and many other consumer groups

Kreidler rejected an amended version of his original bill after insurance lobbyists intervened in February. Their gutting of the legislation offered only limited short-term relief to benefit the insurance industry. 

Kreidler offered amendments to his original bill to limit the ban to five years and conduct a study of its effects, but those were never considered in the Senate Business, Financial Services & Trade Committee.

Kreidler has long called out the unfairness of insurers’ use of credit scoring and twice requested bans, first in 2001 and later in 2010 during the economic recession. As many consumers struggle with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, he believes banning credit scoring for insurance is critical. 

Others agree, including Gov. Jay Inslee. He included the bill in his equity policy package for 2021 and recently called on the state Senate to reject the insurance industry’s amendments of the original proposal. 

Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, the prime sponsor of the original bill, also urged its passage recently. 

“People continue to struggle in ways we’ve never imagined,” Kreidler said. “Insurers have relied on credit scores for too long to determine your premium. It’s unfair and unjust. The practice needs to end. There’s still time to act.”

Read Kreidler’s recent Op-Ed in the Seattle Times.