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Get a CLUE (Report)

When it comes to taking care of our finances, it can seem as though the deck is stacked against us.

There's a danger facing many people who buy a new home: They may run into insurance trouble, not because of any claims they do or don't file -- but because of claims filed by previous owners!

That's right -- there may be a record in the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) database of one or more claims filed on the house. There may even be records of inquiries about damages. You read that correctly -- if you call your insurer and discuss a possible claim, your call might end up in a CLUE report.

Many homeowners find out that the home they were so excited to buy is uninsurable -- no home insurer is willing to cover it because of past claims. (Some 90% of home insurers subscribe to CLUE.)

Can it get worse? You bet. According to an article at, if you file a claim -- say, for mold -- when you live in one home, and you later buy another home, you may find yourself faced with sky-high premiums at the new home because of your claim history at the old one.

Crazy, eh? The more claims you file, the more you might be charged when you buy a new policy.

What to do
Be prepared. Understand that when someone applies for homeowner insurance, the insurer will typically look into the claim history as far as five years of both the buyer and seller. Try to get a copy of the CLUE report for any home you're considering buying. You can't do so if you don't own the home, but you could ask the seller to get a copy for you. It may contain useful information, revealing past problems with the home.

ChoicePoint (NYSE: CPS  ) is the company behind CLUE reports. You're entitled to a free copy of your home's CLUE report if you're denied insurance due to information contained in the report. [Note that ChoicePoint is being bought by Reed Elsevier (NYSE: RUK  ) .]

Keep learning
Learn more in our Insurance Center:

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9/18/2008 4:03 PM
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