This Secret Report Could Raise Your Insurance Costs

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If you’re looking to purchase a house or recently bought one, there’s something you need to know: Claims made by the previous owner can increase how much you pay for homeowner’s insurance. In fact, even claims that were simply discussed with an insurance agent but never filed may affect your premiums.

A little-known database called the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) stores claim history about personal property and individuals for seven years. All insurance carriers have access to this information. CLUE reports include the date of a loss, type of claim made, and the amount paid out by an insurance company. Along with other factors, insurers use this information to help determine if you’re eligible for coverage and calculate your premiums. If a house shows a history of insurance claims or even inquiries, it could cost you extra money.

Few people are aware of CLUE reports. A new survey from InsuranceQuotes.com found that only 1% of Americans are very familiar with CLUE reports, and an additional 7% are somewhat familiar. Furthermore, just 17% of people are aware that insurance companies can penalize homeowners for prior owners’ claims. More than eight out of 10 Americans also think it’s unfair to penalize policyholders for discussing potential claims with agents.

“Most consumers are shocked to hear that denied claims, never-filed claims, and claims made by a previous homeowner can raise their insurance costs,” said Laura Adams, InsuranceQuotes.com’s senior analyst. “Prospective homebuyers should ask the seller for a copy of the property’s [CLUE] report before making an offer. Unfortunately, we found that only 10% of homeowners have done this. And people need to be really careful when filing claims or even discussing potential claims with their agents.”

On the positive side, you do have some protection from CLUE reports, and they’re not exactly a secret if you know how to request them. Several states prohibit insurers from using inquiries when determining premiums, and some require you to be notified when your information is submitted to the database. Contact your state insurance department to learn more about your rights.

You are entitled to see your own CLUE report once a year for free from LexisNexis and dispute inaccurate information, much like credit reports. CLUE reports also contain auto records, so ensuring all information is accurate could lead to significant savings in the long run.

Follow Eric on Twitter @Mr_Eric_WSCS

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