If you're like most people, you probably assumed that age, driving record, and experience behind the wheel were the main factors in determining your insurance premiums. Silly you.

Turns out that your spendthrift ways may have an impact on what you pay to insure your car and home, even if you're a long-standing customer and generally an upstanding citizen. More and more home and auto insurers rely on credit data as a predictor of future loss, using it to decide whether they will accept, cancel, or renew home and auto policies, and exactly what they'll charge you for them.

What's the credit-auto claims connection? Industry studies show that certain financial strikes -- such as payment delinquencies, outstanding credit card balances, collections, foreclosures, and bankruptcies-- are linked to the likelihood of a person filing a claim.

But even pristine customers are being hit with higher rates. Those who have "no hits" on their credit record -- because they use cash, not plastic, for purchases -- get squeezed because in the eyes of the industry they have no credit history.

Are you ready to let your credit speak for your driving acumen? Now you have another reason to clean up your credit. Check out your credit report, and make any needed repairs so there are no surprises come home or auto policy renewal time.