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Don’t Be Clueless About Your Home Owner Insurance

Posted by Pete Sabine on October 25, 2007

Leaky roof? Stolen bike? Broken rain gutter? You may want to think twice before even calling your insurance company. 

Many home insurers count inquiry calls – calls in which homeowners simply ask informally whether their policy will cover certain damages and are told that it won’t – as unpaid losses. 

Most insurance companies file loss information, paid or unpaid, into a centralized database called the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, better know as CLUE. 

Even if a policyholder just makes a phone call and doesn’t report any damage, there’s still a chance the call will be logged into the CLUE database as an unpaid loss. The information stays on the record for five years, and can mar homeowner’s chances of obtaining a standard policy the next time they apply for insurance. 

When a homeowner applies for a new policy, the insurance company usually orders a copy of his or her CLUE report. Two or more reported losses, depending on severity, can cause an applicant to be charged a double or triple premium or to be denied coverage altogether. 

While lawmakers in several states are trying to rein in insurers over this issue, there’s not much consumers can do to fight back. But homeowners can take basic steps to protect their CLUE reports:

Know the specifics of your insurance policy and the deductible. Refrain from calling your insurance company to ask about coverage questions that can be answered elsewhere.

Avoid preliminary calls to your insurance company. It’s not necessary to call the insurance company unless you plan to file a claim and know the damage will be covered.

If you do need to call the insurance company, don’t mention actual damage unless filing a claim. Any mention of damage will likely be recorded as a loss, regardless of whether it’s covered.

When in doubt, call a professional repairman first to get an estimate. Insurance companies will often send out a repairman to estimate damages before committing to covered damage anyway.

Report only major damage. Reporting small damages can add unnecessary claims on your report.

Check your CLUE report. Make the effort to clean up any disputed claims before it has a negative effect on selling your home or renewing your policy.

If there is an error on your CLUE report, the disputed item will be sent to the reporting insurer for verification. If the item is not removed, you have the right to append a statement to the report. CLUE reports can be ordered by calling Choice Point (866) 527-2600 or on-line at www.ChoiceTrust.com. The cost is $12.95 for California residents. You can’t get a CLUE report for someone else’s home. However, if you are buying a home, the sale can be made contingent upon your approval of the CLUE report provided by the seller. 

Call Pete Sabine (925) 407-0606 for a consultation or visit www.GetRealEstateHelp.com 

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