CLUE and You
You call your insurer to ask about your home’s coverage, and a few months later the policy is cancelled. Your automobile insurance premium is raised because your credit report shows you were late paying your credit card bill.
Does this sound plausible? Think again. Innocent inquiries to your insurance agent or information that seems to have no bearing on your driving ability can make premiums skyrocket. Worse, your insurance might even be cancelled. Inquiries, even those that do not result in a claim, can appear in a little-known database called CLUE, or its smaller competitor A-PLUS. And your insurance “score” which is largely based on your credit rating, can determine how much you pay for homeowner’s or automobile insurance.
If you’ve seen your CLUE report (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) and you know your insurance score, chances are you’ve already been turned down for automobile or homeowner’s insurance. But probably, you, like most others, are clueless about CLUE. The CLUE report and the insurance scoring system are tools insurers use to decide your risk profile, or how likely you are to file a claim against your policy. Insurers feed information about paid claims – even your inquiries about coverage that don’t result in a claim – into a national database for use by insurers. Information included in the database, along with your insurance score, makes up your risk profile. Insurers use the profile to decide whether you get new insurance – even to decide if you get to keep the insurance you already have. If information is inaccurate, you can be left without insurance while you work out the errors.
About CLUE Reports
The CLUE database enables insurers to exchange information – without notice to you – about claims for loss of property. Here’s a simple example of how the exchange system works:
- Insurance companies feed information about property loss claims, even inquiries about coverage, into a central database.
- If you file a claim for loss against your homeowner policy, for example, the insurance company adds this information to the national database.
- The CLUE database is maintained by an information vendor, not another insurance company.
- If you apply for homeowner’s insurance with another company because you move to another part of the country, the new insurance company can access the CLUE database and learn of your past claims.
- The CLUE report shows the new insurer information about any claims you files under your previous insurer’s policy. CLUE also includes information about inquiries you made, even if a claim was never submitted or paid. Who maintains the database?
The major issuer of CLUE reports in ChoicePoint, a Georgia company that is one of the country’s biggest compliers and sellers of personal consumer data. A property loss database is also maintained by Insurance Services Office (ISO) which calls its database the Automated Property Loss Underwriting System, or A-PLUS. However, because ChoicePoint dominates the insurance risk market, reports of property loss have come to be known generically as CLUE reports.
Are CLUE reports only for homeowner’s insurance? No. CLUE reports can relate to property loss claims made against automobile insurance policies as well as homeowner policies. CLUE reports for homeowner’s insurance have received more attention as homebuyers discover that the home they are about to purchase comes with its own CLUE report. If that report includes reports of water or mold mitigation, or even inquiries, the buyer may have to pay a higher premium or find it difficult to get insurance, even though the buyer has no claims in his history. How long does the information stay on the CLUE report? Five years from the date the loss is reported. This may include losses for a property before you owned it.
What do CLUE reports contain?
The CLUE report includes personal information such as your name, date of birth, and Social Security number. Tied to your identifying number is a record of any auto or homeowner loss claims you have submitted to an insurance company, including:
- Date of loss
- Type of loss claimed
- Amount paid by the insurance company
The CLUE database may also include notations of property “damage” – even if the insurance company didn’t pay a cent. Any hint of water damage to a property, for example, is likely to trigger a negative mark on the property’s CLUE report. Well-intentioned consumers who call an insurer to merely inquire about coverage for water damage have been shocked to have their insurance cancelled.
What is the difference between a CLUE report and an insurance score?
The CLUE report is the history of claims on a property [home or car] that stays with the property. An insurance score is a compilation or indication of likelihood that an individual will file a claim and is influenced by credit scores. Insurance scores stay with the individual even if they move.
How can I order a CLUE report?
Only the homeowner can order their home’s clue report:
1000 Alderman Drive
Alpharetta, GA 30008