The C.L.U.E. in You

If you have made a loss claim with your insurance company within the past seven years, there may be a file with your name on it, identified as your C.L.U.E. report. C.L.U.E., or Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, is a claims history database created by ChoicePoint, and it enables insurance companies to access consumer claims when they are underwriting or rating an insurance policy. The report contains not only the consumer’s claim information, including date of loss, type of loss, amounts paid, and a description of the property covered, but also personal information about the consumer such as name, date of birth, and policy number.

C.L.U.E. reports are mainly used when insurers underwrite and rate new policies, and when renewing a policy, insurers usually don’t even have to access C.L.U.E. reports because the information is already stored in their own database. In fact, the C.L.U.E. database is a subscription-based database, which means insurance companies have to subscribe to be able to access the information, so not all insurance companies submit their consumers’ information to be stored in C.L.U.E. reports. Additionally, even if your insurance company does subscribe to C.L.U.E., if you haven’t made a loss claim in the past seven years, you don’t have a C.L.U.E. report at all.

The problem arises when you realize that all the information in your C.L.U.E. report is being submitted by the insurance company, without your consent or knowledge, but the companies are protected to do so under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. So, inaccurate information may be listed in your report without your realization. Each consumer is allowed to request a single copy once every 12 months, and if there are any errors found, consumers can contact ChoicePoint directly to report the discrepancy. ChoicePoint then contacts the insurance company to request clarification; after 20 days without the company’s response, ChoicePoint will contact the company again to follow up. After 28 days without the company’s response, ChoicePoint will again follow up, and if, after 30 days, the company has still not responded, the questioned information will be removed from the consumer’s C.L.U.E. report.

Although you cannot access anyone’s C.L.U.E. account but your own, if you are considering purchasing property and would like to see the claims made on that property, you can ask the current homeowners to make a request for their own report.

Many consumers do not realize the difference between an inquiry and a claim, and this is an important distinction to make when wondering what is in your C.L.U.E. report. When you call your insurance company just to check to see if some sort of damage would be covered, you are making in inquiry, but make sure that is clear to the agent with whom you speak. If you call to report damage, while still asking if it is covered or what the deductible is, and you wish to make a claim, make it clear to the agent that you’d like to make a claim. Claims are recorded in the insurance company’s database and in your C.L.U.E. report, but inquiries are not. Even if the company doesn’t make a payment on the claim, or even if the consumer decides not to follow through, the claim is still recorded and passed on to be kept in your C.L.U.E. report.

Although your insurance company submits information to your C.L.U.E. report, the consumer has the ability to add notes to a claim. For example if there was a loss claim associated to an appliance’s continuous leaking, and the consumer got rid of the appliance once the damage was realized, the consumer could add that bit to his or her report.

To request your C.L.U.E. report, or to report possible misinformation, you can call toll free 1-866-312-8076, or write to C.L.U.E. Inc. Consumer Disclosure Center, P.O. Box 105295, Atlanta, Georgia 30348-5295. If you call to request a copy of your report, be sure to have the following information readily accessible: Social Security Number, street address with the five-digit zip code, and date of birth. If you are requesting a report possessing your automobile loss claim history, be sure to also have your driver’s license number and state of issuance close at hand.