In the information age the chances are pretty good that your personal information is in at least several databases that you may not even be aware of. Auto and homeowner insurance companies, for instance, have a handy tool to help them make underwriting decisions – a database of previous insurance claims. The Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, also known as C.L.U.E., is generated by LexisNexis® and insurers will base the yay or nay of your insurance application, at least partially, on what they find in the C.L.U.E. report.
The database includes basic information on folks who have filed claims, including name, date of birth, address and, of course, the actual information about the claim filed (date filed, type of claim and the amount of money it took to satisfy it).
For instance, if a tree fell on your home during a wicked storm, causing roof damage, and you filed an insurance claim, it may appear in the database along with information pertaining to whether or not you were reimbursed for the damage. All claims reported, by the way, paid for or not, remain in the C.L.U.E. database for seven years.
Not all insurance companies contribute to C.L.U.E.
Have you ever visited one of the big real estate listing aggregator websites such as Trulia or Zillow? Did you know that not all of the nation’s Multiple Listing Services supply listing information to them? The same holds true for the C.L.U.E. database. So, just as you aren’t getting the whole story on the number of listings of homes for sale in our area 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?
While the report may not contain all of a home’s claim history, you may still find some valuable information in it. Michelle Lerner with Money Crashers suggests that even a basic report may give hints about ongoing problems with a home, “particularly claims that involve water damage,” she said. “For example, if a home has had even one claim involving water, investigate the existence of mold or perhaps explore the need for flood insurance,” she continues.
Other clues you may find in a report include multiple reports of burglary, which might indicate a crime problem in the neighborhood. More than one house fire may be an indication of electrical problems in the home.
The amounts of money required to remedy the claim are also worth a look as these indicate 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, it is the dispensation of the claim you want to pay attention to. For instance, 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).
Even repeated burglaries or vandalism need not be deal breakers, but merely a tip to install a robust security system if you’re head-over-heels and must have the home.
How to get a C.L.U.E. report
The C.L.U.E. database is available to insurance companies, lenders and homeowners. As a buyer, you’ll need to request a report from the homeowner who is entitled to one free copy per year.
If you’re a homeowner and would like to get your hands on a copy of your C.L.U.E. report, call LexisNexis® at 866-312-8076 or visit 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.