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Get a CLUE about your home and auto insurance claims

(4/22/2011) Erate Exclusive - Home and auto insurers will check your credit report from the big three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion, but they also want to know about any insurance claims information the credit bureaus don't have.

So it stands to reason, just as you should get to know your credit reports, free, via the only federally sanctioned source, AnnualCreditReport.com, before you seek a mortgage or car loan, you also should get a free CLUE report before you shop for homeowner's insurance or auto insurance.

Your CLUE (for "Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange") report is the leading insurance-related "credit report" available from Nexis/Lexis. Another is the "A-Plus" report.

Both keep tabs on insurance claims you make as well claims made against your real estate property. Just as what's on your credit report could affect your loan application and how much you pay for credit, what's on your CLUE file could also affect your insurance application and how much you pay for premiums.

Virtually all insurance companies use CLUE or A-Plus to check on your claims history.

(While you are at it, you should know about all the entities that keep track of your financial life. Visit Privacy Rights' Clearinghouse's "What You Should Know about 'Specialty' Reports." And now...back to our story...)

According to Lexis/Nexis:

The CLUE Personal Property report provides a seven year history of losses associated with, not just the individual, but also the real estate property. The following data is identified for each loss: The date of loss, loss type, status of the claim and amount paid along with general information such as policy number, claim number and insurance company name.

The report is available only to the current home owner, but home buyers should request a copy from the home seller before buying a home.

The CLUE Auto report provides a seven year history of automobile insurance losses associated with an individual, but not the vehicle. To get more information about the vehicle's incidents of claims use other sources, CarFax.com, Experian's AutoCheck.com or other vehicle history reports.

Vehicle buyers should request a copy of a CLUE Auto report from the current owner of the vehicle and check the vehicle's history before buying a used car.

If a claim was filed against a home or a car it could affect it's value and the insurance risk.

Insurance companies rely on CLUE reports because statistics show that if you've filed a claim in the past, you're more likely to file one in the future. The amount of a claim is less important than how often you've filed.

Each insurance company has its own formula for calculating how much a claim will affect your premium, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Certainly, the fewer claims filed, the less likely you'll have to pay higher premiums. Some companies even offer discounts if you don't file a claim for a stretch.

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