What is CLUE and how does it affect my insurance?
CLUE is an abbreviation for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange. What is it? It’s a claims history database produced by consumer reporting agency LexisNexis. In the simplest form, when an auto or property insurance claim happens, the insurance company paying the claim provides the claims information to LexisNexis (note- the majority of insurance companies participate, but not all). This claims information is then accessed when underwriting and/or rating insurance policies. Following is an example when it is most commonly used.
Here’s how CLUE is used within insurance
Let’s say you want to get quotes for your vehicles and home. You contact an agent and provide the requested information. Within the quoting process, the CLUE reports are pulled for both the vehicles and property. Claims reported AND paid appear. Yes, even if there was no payout, if the claim was reported to the insurance company, it will appear (a good thing to know).
Claims generally stay on a CLUE for 5-7 years, although many insurance companies only look back 3-5 years.
The agent then must ask for details for what appears in order to determine eligibility, as insurance companies have guidelines for what is acceptable for their programs. Continue on for an example of what each CLUE contains.
What you can expect to see in CLUE reports
Let’s begin with auto. People are often surprised by the amount of information contained, but remember, if an insurance company is trying to decide whether you qualify for their auto program and what rate they need to charge, they need details. An example follows below.
Claim TypeStatusAmount PaidCollisionClosed$5,257.00Rental ReimbursementClosed$472.00Total Loss Amount$5,279.00Deductible $250
This table shows the type of coverage that the claim was paid under, whether the claim is open or closed and the dollar payout. It also indicates a deductible was paid by the insured as part of this claim. SUPER IMPORTANT INFORMATION ALERT: the status is critical here. Most insurance companies do NOT write new policies with an open claim. So if it shows as Open, this could prevent you from getting new insurance. ALSO SUPER IMPORTANT TO KNOW: I mentioned even if the payout was zero, if the CLUE shows two claims, one with zero payout and the other with a payout, it counts as TWO claims, not one. This could also negatively affect your ability to get insurance.
In addition to the above, the following is also listed: driver involved, type of loss (in this case accident), loss date, whether at-fault or not-at-fault, vehicle involved (including VIN), vehicle operator name, vehicle owner name, policyholder name, and a variety of internal LexisNexis reference numbers.
Now onto CLUE property (also called CLUP).
Claim TypeStatusAmount PaidWindClosed$1,757.00Total Loss Amount$1,757.00
The claimant name is also listed, along with the loss date and an internal reference number assigned by LexisNexis. Just like the CLUE auto, the status is critical here. Open claims are not looked open favorably by insurance companies and can prevent you from obtaining new insurance. Also as mentioned above, a zero payout claim still counts as a claim and could negatively affect the ability to get insurance.
What if there’s a mistake or error in my CLUE report(s)?
Unfortunately, we as agents have ZERO ability to fix a report. Remember, the information comes directly from the insurance company and we have no authority to change it. You must dispute the incorrect information directly with LexisNexis by requesting a Description of Process Letter. You can see a general description of the dispute process as well. They will advise the final status as either accurate, notice of data correction or notice of data being removed.
CLUE Property and purchasing a new home
So you’ve made an offer for a home you want, the offer has been accepted and you’re now on the path to making the purchase (i.e. closing). You contact your agent (or an agent if you don’t have one yet) and provide all information regarding this property. As previously mentioned, the information is fed into the quoting software and the CLUE report is run. A claim that happened two years ago appears for the property you’re purchasing (often referred to as a “risk” claim as it’s associated with a specific property). If insurance companies go back 3-5 years for eligibility, this claim could matter. Is the claim closed? If not, then again, that could provide a problem with purchasing a policy. If closed, what was the cause of the claim? Has the damage been repaired? Insurance companies don’t want to inherit a problem that might result in future claims. And you don’t want to take on a problem either. Homes must be well maintained and updated to be considered.
What if you’re not working with an agent, but would like to know if a property has had any insurance claims? You can request that the property owner order a CLUP. Similar to a personal credit report, a CLUP can be ordered, free of charge, once a year.
Why would you want to see a CLUP for a property you want to purchase? Simple- you may find out about potential hazards or issues with a property such as mold, water damage, roof damage, fire, or sewer/septic issues. Obviously you want to know if the problem has been fixed, the likelihood of the problem occurring and how this changes the negotiations. As referenced earlier, number of claims, type of claims and status of claims can negatively affect the ability to get insurance, so perhaps the property is NOT a good choice.
Why you should care about CLUE reports
As you can see CLUE reports are pretty important in the insurance purchasing process, as they determine eligibility for a policy, the appropriate premium to charge and may even impact a major decision such as buying a home.