If you want to find a bargain on homeowners' insurance, you'd better watch your credit score. Homeowners with poor -- and even average -- credit scores pay vastly more than those who have the best scores, according to a new analysis of insurance data. Indeed, in 37 states and the District of Columbia, homeowners with bad credit pay twice as much for insurance as those with great credit.
The impact in dollars and cents? Where the typical West Virginia resident pays $743 to insure a home from damage, a person with poor credit in that state faces a bill amounting to $2,288, according to data compiled by InsuranceQuotes.com.
In Ohio, where the average homeowner pays $644 annually, the homeowner with bad credit pays $1,833. Your premium in Washington, D.C., would soar from $1,083 with good credit to $3,055 if it's not so good.
And your credit doesn't have to be rotten for it to cost you. Even people with average scores get hit with higher rates, according to the insurance shopping site. A person with average credit pays 65 percent more for homeowners' coverage in Montana, 60 percent more in Washington, D.C., and 55 percent more in Arizona than someone with excellent credit.
Obviously, the credit-oriented surcharge for homeowner's coverage varies markedly by state. And your score doesn't affect your rate at all in four states: California, Florida, Maryland and Massachusetts. Three of them prohibit credit as a factor in insurance pricing, and while Florida doesn't prohibit credit as a factor, it appears to have no impact on rates possibly because hurricanes are a far more significant issue in the Sunshine State. Florida residents pay the highest average annual premiums in the country -- $1,933 per year.
In every other state, your credit score will somewhat affect your insurance rate. The state where that impact is smallest is Hawaii, where having average credit will cause you to pay 6 percent more than someone with great credit. Hawaiians with poor scores pay just 15 percent more.
Nationally, bad credit will cost you 91 percent more, boosting the bad-credit average to $1,872 from the national average of $978. People with run-of-the-mill credit scores pay 29.5 percent more than those with great credit.
"This is another example of why credit is such an important part of your financial life," said Laura Adams, senior analyst at InsuranceQuotes.com. "Maintaining a good credit history suggests that you're a less risky customer, which can lead to several hundred dollars in annual homeowner's insurance savings."
Don't know your credit score? You can get a free score and an analysis of how it stacks up at Credit Karma.com, a financial management site that also provides free credit reports.
To see how much your score will affect homeowners' insurance rates in your state, check out InsuranceQuote's full state-by-state analysis.