Getting a CLUE report is one way to make sure you don’t have any last-minute home insurance coverage issues when buying a new home.
Imagine you found your dream home. Your credit score is excellent and you were able to secure a low rate on your mortgage.
Then, days before you're scheduled to close, you find out you can't get homeowners insurance. You learn your so-called dream home is uninsurable because the previous owner has a lengthy history of homeowners insurance claims.
That issue could be avoided if you requested a CLUE report before agreeing to buy the home.
What is a CLUE report?
Every cookie you eat these days leaves a crumb on the path of your life. In the credit world, it’s your FICO score and credit report. In the insurance world, it’s the CLUE report.
A CLUE report -- Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange -- is a compilation of claims on autos and property over seven years. Insurance companies review this information when deciding on whether to give you a homeowners policy and when setting your rates.
How does a CLUE report work?
Owned and operated by LEXIS-NEXIS, CLUE is a way for insurers to track auto, home and renters claims.
It's important to remember that the report, while helpful, isn’t universal. While it’s a glimpse into a home’s claims history, insurance companies don’t have to provide the data to CLUE. So, a CLUE report may not include a complete home claims picture.
Homeowners insurance companies provide the following information for the CLUE report:
- Policy number
- Insurance company’s name
- Date of loss
- Type of loss
- Amount that the homeowners insurance company paid for the loss
Types of claims you may find on CLUEs report:
- Damage to other people’s property
- Dog bite
- Freezing water
- Medical payment
- Water damage
- Workers compensation
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How to get a CLUE report
The claims history report -- the CLUE Report -- is relatively easy to get. LEXIS-NEXIS accepts requests for CLUE reports online, via email and snail mail or over the phone.
Here are ways to request a copy:
- Online: https://consumer.risk.lexisnexis.com/
- Call: 888-497-0011
- Email: email@example.com
- You could also request a copy from a homeowner
There are a host of security questions that you must answer to confirm your identity.
You can order a report for yourself/your property or someone over whom you have legal authority, such as a minor.
Thanks to the Fair And Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), you're entitled to one free copy of your report per year.
When you apply for homeowners insurance, your insurance company will request a loss history report to determine whether you, the buyer or the seller have filed any claims during the past seven years. The database also includes damage reports that were later closed when the owner made the repairs.
How to check home insurance claim history
If you’re buying a home, you may want to ask the seller to pull the CLUE report on the property. You can then review any claims and see what insurance-related work was done on the property in recent years.
Loss history reports alert insurance companies to properties that carry potentially more risk than they are willing to assume. They also give consumers another tool to make good purchasing decisions.
Do home insurance claims follow you?
Yes, most home insurance companies provide information to the CLUE report, so your claims history follows you. Your home’s claims history also influences rates -- even if the claims were before you owned the home.
Claims going back up to seven years will be on the CLUE report. Keep in mind that while the CLUE report won’t contain inquiries to a home insurance company, insurers may have their own records.
So, if you called a home insurance company about a potential claim but wound up handling the issue yourself, an insurer may still have that communication on your records.
Buying a house with an open insurance claim
You can buy a home with an open claim. Having an outstanding claim shouldn’t stop you from selling your house, nor should it stop anyone from buying it.
Here are two options if you want to buy a home with an open insurance claim.
The first option -- and the easiest -- is to lower the selling price and sell it "as is." This is a pro for both parties:
- The seller gets out of the hassle of having to have any damage repaired.
- The buyer gets a deal on the property.
In this situation, the house seller would keep the insurance claim money because the price was lowered on the house. They would still have to get a reputable professional to give a quote to reflect the actual cost to fix the issues.
One con in that scenario is that the new homeowner may appear to be getting a deal, but really they have to put up money out of their own pocket to get the damages fixed.
Another, more complicated, option is to transfer the claim to the new homeowner. In that case, all hassle is removed from the seller, which is a bonus for that party. The pro for the new homeowner is that they can find their own contractors and feel comfortable with the work.
A con in either scenario is that there’s still an insurance claims history on the house that will go on the CLUE report and likely increase home insurance rates temporarily.
Are home insurance claims public record?
Yes, sort of. Insurance claims are public record, but only to certain parties.
The insurance company and the policyholder can request and receive copies of claims. The other party that can request a claim is the realtor/prospective buyer for a property.
Unrelated parties -- those other than the insurer, homeowner, realtor/prospective buyer -- aren’t privy to these documents.
Make sure you can insure your home
It pays to educate yourself about home insurance when you're seeking affordable coverage. Here are some ways you can help yourself:
- Find out the rules regarding home insurance renewals in your state. Some states exercise control over when an insurer can refuse to renew your policy. In Texas, for example, an insurer can't refuse to renew your home insurance policy unless you've made three non-weather-related claims within the past three years.
- Consider paying for small losses out of your own pocket. Insurers take notice of customers who submit many small claims. If someone breaks into your house and steals your new TV, it might be better to buy a new one at your own expense. That’s especially true if you've had a claim or two within the past three years.
- Think twice before you call your agent or insurance company. If you’re considering filing a claim but aren't sure, wait to make that call. The minute your insurer's customer service representative logs your call, the insurer opens a file on that issue that it will track through its computer system.
- Shop around for coverage. Don’t get discouraged if your insurer denies a policy based on previous claims or the rates are simply unaffordable. Obtain insurance quotes from at least three other insurers so you can compare premiums and coverage options. Insure.com provides an annual ranking of the Best Home Insurance Companies.
- See if your state has a Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan if you can’t get a home insurance policy. FAIR plans were created in the late-1960s to make property insurance more readily available to people who can't obtain it from private insurers because their property is considered "high risk."
- Raise your deductible and bundle policies. Consider raising your deductible to lower your premiums. Also, most companies give you a discount if you insure both your car and home with them.
- Check your credit record. In addition to your past claims history, most states allow insurers to use your credit history when deciding on a policy and setting rates.
- Order a copy of your credit record periodically. This will ensure it doesn't contain mistakes that could prevent you from obtaining a home insurance policy or lead to higher premiums. See how your credit history affects your auto and home insurance premiums.