Most homeowners find out the hard way that any claim they file with an insurance company will be kept on file in a national database. This includes claims that nothing was ever paid out on due to never completing the repairs or just not submitting reimbursement because the deductible was too high.
The average homeowner has a claim every seven years but that doesn't mean that you couldn't have multiple losses occur in that same time period. The question is whether the homeowner should file a claim with the insurance company or not.
First you need to understand that any time you call an insurance claims department you are creating an entry into your C.L.U.E. report.
What is a C.L.U.E. report?
C.L.U.E. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) is a claims history database insurance companies use to access consumer claims information when they are underwriting an insurance policy. Consumers should be aware that contacting their company or their agent to discuss an actual loss might be considered reporting a claim, even if the company does not end up making a claim payment.
How can I get a copy of my C.L.U.E. report?
Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act you can request a copy of your C.L.U.E. report from C.L.U.E. Inc. Consumer Disclosure Center, P.O. Box 105295, Atlanta, Georgia 30348-5295, or call toll free 1-866-312-8076.
What happens when you call insurance carrier?
So once you have called to inform your insurance carrier that you have had a loss it will be placed on your C.L.U.E. report. This means that even if you call to ask questions about a possible claim you might make any information you provide them can be stored on the report. Basically any claim you start by submitting to the insurance company cannot be cancelled or removed from file. The report will contain information such as date of loss, type of loss and amounts paid, and a description of the property covered.
Will a zero payout claim increase my premium?
There isn't all bad news. Most insurance companies will not surcharge you for a claim that had a zero payout or even up to a thousand dollars. There are claims that do look worse than others including theft claims which are the most difficult for companies to reduce fraudulent actions. While certain insurance companies do surcharge for home claims like theft, hail or wind damage the surcharge only lasts for a few years and may not amount to more than 15% in higher premiums.
The best thing any homeowner can do when questioning whether or not to file a claim is contact their insurance agent first to see what they recommend. The agent will likely be a trusted source that will not report the claim since they want to keep your business. Insurance agents will be able to give advice on what will likely happen if you file the claim and how much it will affect your future policy rate.