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Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Old Oct 8th 2007, 1:02 pm
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Default Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Sorry for yet ANOTHER credit related / insurance question. I've used search and have not found the answer.

I've read all the credit guides on the forum - thanks for those; really useful, particularly FatBrit's.

I will be arriving as a trailing spouse on an O-3 visa (so similar to H-4 in that it is a non-working visa).

As I understand it, no SSN = no credit history - ever. As an O-3 I won't have an SSN (or an ITIN either, because I won't be filing taxes).

I presume this means that the only credit available to me will be as a named card holder against my wife's credit history. We already have a US bank account and credit card set up.

I don't particularly see a problem with this scenario. I won't have a US income in my own name, so why should the CC companies want to deal with me?

But auto insurance quotes are quite heavily affected by credit scoring, so presumably I could never get a really good quote in my own name - correct?

From the (very) limited quotes we have received so far, the concept of primary driver of a vehicle doesn't seem to have cropped up. Does this exist? I suspect auto insurance is very different in the US compared to the UK.

So, the real question is :

Can we just have 2 cars on one policy (in my wife's name) and skip away with the 2 car and (eventually) credit discounts even though I would be the primary driver on the second car? What do other people do?

I am not looking to be dishonest in any way - it just isn't worth it with insurance companies in particular.

Thanks for the answers and please feel free to demolish my reasoning.
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Old Oct 8th 2007, 1:11 pm
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Default Re: Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Originally Posted by sangiano View Post
But auto insurance quotes are quite heavily affected by credit scoring, so presumably I could never get a really good quote in my own name - correct?
I've never heard that in all my driving life (over 40 years now) and I've been the principal policyholder for most of those years with children on the policy and a credit rating that should have been buried and kept as a dark family secret.

From the (very) limited quotes we have received so far, the concept of primary driver of a vehicle doesn't seem to have cropped up. Does this exist? I suspect auto insurance is very different in the US compared to the UK.
It will come up only if you are a one car household. If each member has a car then the owner of the car is considered the primary driver. We are asked when adding a new car who will be the principle driver.

So, the real question is :

Can we just have 2 cars on one policy (in my wife's name) and skip away with the 2 car and (eventually) credit discounts even though I would be the primary driver on the second car? What do other people do?
Of course. You will qualify for discounts based on multi-cars, driving experience, age, accident and traffic violation history and most companies give a 5 to 10% discount for taking a defensive driving class once every three years.

I am not looking to be dishonest in any way - it just isn't worth it with insurance companies in particular.

Thanks for the answers and please feel free to demolish my reasoning.
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Old Oct 8th 2007, 1:13 pm
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Default Re: Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

You will require an ITIN as your wife will need to list you on her tax return and can only do so if you have said number. The ITIN can be used in place of a SSN in some cases for credit cards and banking.
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Old Oct 8th 2007, 1:25 pm
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Default Re: Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

credit score can have some effect on insurance premiums, this is a fact. BUT many insurance companies do not include it as part of their underwriting guidelines

geico does for example (according to the rep I spoke to ages ago), but farm bureau who I use does not for example

just find a company that does not pull your credit. Them asking for a SSN is a dead giveaway
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Old Oct 8th 2007, 1:26 pm
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Default Re: Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Originally Posted by Rete View Post
I've never heard that in all my driving life (over 40 years now) and I've been the principal policyholder for most of those years with children on the policy and a credit rating that should have been buried and kept as a dark family secret.
Yeah the insurance companies use something called an insurance score, which is heavily based on your credit score, to the point that getting a few new credit cards could make your premiums go up! There is an article about it here on Consumer Reports from about a year ago...

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/m...urance%20score
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Old Oct 8th 2007, 1:31 pm
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Default Re: Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Originally Posted by Rete View Post
I've never heard that in all my driving life (over 40 years now) and I've been the principal policyholder for most of those years with children on the policy and a credit rating that should have been buried and kept as a dark family secret.
Google is your friend: http://www.google.com/search?q=%22in...redit+score%22
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Old Oct 8th 2007, 1:41 pm
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Default Re: Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Thanks for the replies Rete.

Originally Posted by Rete View Post
I've never heard that in all my driving life (over 40 years now) and I've been the principal policyholder for most of those years with children on the policy and a credit rating that should have been buried and kept as a dark family secret.
I was basing this on Fatbrit's Guide:

Originally Posted by Fatbrit
Credit, credit, my kingdom for a credit score
Okay, look at it this way: your status back in Blighty was directly linked to your accent, schooling, whether the Fotherington-Smythes invited you to their little soiree, or even whether HM has graciously dished out the gongs in your favour. Unfortunately but deservedly, the foremost measure of your social status in America is your credit score. Moreover, this number will affect not only the rate at which you borrow money (would you rather pay 0% for a new car or 21%? 5% on your mortgage or 10%? 5% on your credit card or 30%?) but also your insurance costs ($2000 or $1000 p.a.?) and, possibly, your job (yes, your employer might also ask to see it!).

To have a credit score, you must possess a kosher social security number. There's no way round this.
Originally Posted by Rete View Post
It will come up only if you are a one car household. If each member has a car then the owner of the car is considered the primary driver. We are asked when adding a new car who will be the principle driver.
Thanks. That makes sense.

Originally Posted by Rete View Post
You will require an ITIN as your wife will need to list you on her tax return and can only do so if you have said number. The ITIN can be used in place of a SSN in some cases for credit cards and banking.
Again that makes sense, except that I think I need to get the ITIN issued afterwards, if this is correct.

Originally Posted by meauxna View Post
You may only file W-7 for an ITIN *with* a tax return now.

"Foreign persons who are individuals should apply for a social security number (SSN, if permitted) on Form SS-5 with the Social Security Administration, or should apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on Form W-7. Effective immediately, each ITIN applicant must now:

Apply using the revised Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number; and
Attach a federal income tax return to the Form W-7."
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Old Oct 8th 2007, 1:42 pm
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Default Re: Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Originally Posted by sangiano View Post
From the (very) limited quotes we have received so far, the concept of primary driver of a vehicle doesn't seem to have cropped up. Does this exist? I suspect auto insurance is very different in the US compared to the UK.

So, the real question is :

Can we just have 2 cars on one policy (in my wife's name) and skip away with the 2 car and (eventually) credit discounts even though I would be the primary driver on the second car? What do other people do?
US car insurance is indeed very different compared to the UK. And premiums vary widely. The answer is to shop around a lot -- pain though that may be.

On the "how to do it" front, I'd have both the cars in both your names and both the cars insured through the same company. The insurance companies will insist that everyone who lives at the address is listed on the policy anyway.

Don't be surprised to find customer service people who get stuck and refuse when you don't have a SSN. You will learn the gentle art of pushing your issue higher up the ranks until you find someone with a brain large enough to understand this strange concept.
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Old Oct 8th 2007, 1:44 pm
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Default Re: Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Originally Posted by sangiano View Post
I was basing this on Fatbrit's Guide:
Rete was talking about insuring her pony and trap. She's 'Mericun you know.
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Old Oct 8th 2007, 1:45 pm
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Default Re: Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Originally Posted by BritGuyTN View Post
credit score can have some effect on insurance premiums, this is a fact. BUT many insurance companies do not include it as part of their underwriting guidelines

geico does for example (according to the rep I spoke to ages ago), but farm bureau who I use does not for example

just find a company that does not pull your credit. Them asking for a SSN is a dead giveaway

Strange I have had a GEICO policy since my first husband was employed in the government back in 1972. Have had the present policy with them now since 1976. Like I said until the last ten years, my credit rating was minus 0 as a single parent raising two girl without child support.
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Old Oct 8th 2007, 1:47 pm
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Default Re: Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Originally Posted by fatbrit View Post
Rete was talking about insuring her pony and trap. She's 'Mericun you know.

Nah, I gave them up last year for a new more modern conveyance. Now I have a stallion and coach. The equivalent of a modern day SUV
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Old Oct 8th 2007, 2:07 pm
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Default Re: Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Originally Posted by sangiano View Post
...Again that makes sense, except that I think I need to get the ITIN issued afterwards, if this is correct.
After what? I suggest you apply for an ITIN as soon as you arrive. Despite what you may have heard, it can be used in ~75% of cases where you would otherwise need an SSN. My wife (who spent 3 years in H4 purgatory) used her ITIN to open an bank account with me, register for my company's health insurance plan (they insisted on an SSN or no coverage), register with Dentist and Doctor (it's easier than explaining to them that they're not allowed to demand an SSN to register you) and to be listed as joint account holder on our credit cards. It's a trivial thing to apply for, and you'll need it before you know it for its real purpose of filing taxes in the Spring anyway.
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Old Oct 8th 2007, 2:10 pm
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Default Re: Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Originally Posted by dbj1000 View Post
After what? I suggest you apply for an ITIN as soon as you arrive. Despite what you may have heard, it can be used in ~75% of cases where you would otherwise need an SSN. My wife (who spent 3 years in H4 purgatory) used her ITIN to open an bank account with me, register for my company's health insurance plan (they insisted on an SSN or no coverage), register with Dentist and Doctor (it's easier than explaining to them that they're not allowed to demand an SSN to register you) and to be listed as joint account holder on our credit cards. It's a trivial thing to apply for, and you'll need it before you know it for its real purpose of filing taxes in the Spring anyway.
Agree 100%. However, heard you can only apply after your first federal tax filing. Is this true?
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Old Oct 8th 2007, 2:19 pm
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Default Re: Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Originally Posted by fatbrit View Post
US car insurance is indeed very different compared to the UK. And premiums vary widely. The answer is to shop around a lot -- pain though that may be.

On the "how to do it" front, I'd have both the cars in both your names and both the cars insured through the same company. The insurance companies will insist that everyone who lives at the address is listed on the policy anyway.

Don't be surprised to find customer service people who get stuck and refuse when you don't have a SSN. You will learn the gentle art of pushing your issue higher up the ranks until you find someone with a brain large enough to understand this strange concept.
Hi Fatbrit,

Thanks for the guide.

When you say "both cars in both your names" is that both Titling and Registration.
I'm thinking Registration is the important one, since the Title is, in many cases held by a finance company.

Originally Posted by fatbrit View Post
Agree 100%. However, heard you can only apply after your first federal tax filing. Is this true?
Originally Posted by meauxna View Post
You may only file W-7 for an ITIN *with* a tax return now.

"Foreign persons who are individuals should apply for a social security number (SSN, if permitted) on Form SS-5 with the Social Security Administration, or should apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on Form W-7. Effective immediately, each ITIN applicant must now:

Apply using the revised Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number; and
Attach a federal income tax return to the Form W-7."
I also looked it up at http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/...6,00.html#itin

I don't qualify under any exceptions, so the W-7 can only be submitted with a tax return.
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Old Oct 8th 2007, 2:44 pm
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Default Re: Auto Insurance / Credit History / Trailing Spouse question

Originally Posted by sangiano View Post
Hi Fatbrit,

Thanks for the guide.

When you say "both cars in both your names" is that both Titling and Registration.
I'm thinking Registration is the important one, since the Title is, in many cases held by a finance company.
This one's state specific. Sometimes you are on the title and the finance company is listed as a lien holder. Sometimes you don't get the title until the lien is paid and you are just the registered owner. States seem to do 50 different things. But you should be able to "hold" the cars in both your names.

Also, consider whether you want to finance both of them since this will force you to take full insurance instead of just liability. Respectable runarounds can be found at very good prices through private sales.
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