Chances are pretty good that your personal information is in a few databases that you don’t even know about. Car and home insurance companies, for example, have a tool that helps them make underwriting decisions: A database of previous insurance claims.
Called the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange – or, C.L.U.E. – the database is generated by LexisNexis®. Insurers base their decision on your insurance application at least partially on what they find in the C.L.U.E. report.
The database includes basic information on people who have filed claims, including name, date or birth, address, and the information about the claim filed, including date, type of claim, and the amount of money needed to satisfy it.
Let’s say a tree fell on your home during a wicked storm and caused roof damage, and you filed an insurance claim. It may appear in the database along with information about whether you were reimbursed for the damage. All claims reported – whether paid for or not – remain in the C.L.U.E. database for seven years.
But, not all insurance companies contribute to C.L.U.E.
If you’ve ever visited one of the big real estate listing aggregator websites like Trulia or Zillow, you may not know that now all of the nation’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) supply listing information to those sites. The same is true for the C.L.U.E. database. Just as you’re not getting the whole story on the number of homes for sale in Southern Maryland from one of those big sites, so, too, you’re not getting the entire claims history from C.L.U.E.
Do I need a C.L.U.E. report?
The report may not contain all of a Southern Maryland home’s claim history, but you may still find some valuable information in it. Michelle Lerner of Money Crashers suggests that even a basic report may give hints about ongoing problems with a home, “particularly claims that involve water damage.”
“For example,” she said, “if a home has had even one claim involving water, investigate the existence of mold or perhaps explore the need for flood insurance.”
You can get clues from other information in the report. Multiple reports of burglary may indicate a crime problem in the neighborhood. More than one house fire may be a sign of electrical problems in the home. The amount of money needed to remedy the claim can tell you how severe the problem was.
What if the home I want has a long claim history?
It’s not the length of the claim history that matters. You want to pay attention to the dispensation of the claim. For example, in the aforementioned roof damage claim, if the homeowner’s insurance company replaced the roof, the home “becomes more desirable to an insurance company,” according to Michael Barry of the Insurance Information Institute in New York. You may even receive a break on the price of your premiums (depending on the insurance company, of course).
Repeated burglaries or vandalism also don’t need to be deal breakers but rather a tip to install a robust security system if you really love the home and must have it.
How to get a C.L.U.E. report
As a homeowner, the C.L.U.E. is available to you. It is also available to insurance companies and lenders. As a buyer, you’ll need to request a report from the homeowner, who is entitled to one free copy per year.
Homeowners who want to get their hands on a copy of their C.L.U.E. report can call LexisNexis® at 866-312-8076 or visit http://personalreports.lexisnexis.com. Like your credit report, it’s possible that your C.L.U.E. report contains errors, so inspect it and file a dispute with LexisNexis if you find any.
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