Author: Chris Boggs
Earlier this week, the VU was queried regarding accessibility of CLUE reports. The petitioner wants to access CLUE reports for houses being considered for purchase, but has run into a problem.
Q. When looking to buy a home, I would like to obtain the insurance claims history of the home (even though I'm not the owner). The closest thing I can find is a CLUE report, but you must be the homeowner to obtain this report. I would like to know how to access insurance claims on any home without being the homeowner, is there any legal reason only the homeowner can request this report?
A. CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) reports are subject to federal law – the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACT Act). The FACT Act amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), adding provisions intended to improve the accuracy of consumer credit-related records. Among other provisions, this act extended several consumer protections, these include, among other provisions:
- Consumers were given the right to receive one free credit report per year from each of the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – accessible at AnnualCreditReport.com);
- The requirement that "risk-based-pricing" notices and credit scores be sent to consumers in connection with denials for or less favorable offers of credit;
- Systems that print payment card receipts must truncate personal account numbers so to avoid viewable account numbers; and
- Added provisions designed to prevent and mitigate identity theft – this includes the ability of consumers to place fraud alters in their credit files and requires secure disposal of consumer information.
In 2010, certain provisions related to data security in FACTA were amended by the Red Flag Program Clarification Act (RFPCA) to clarify and narrow the meaning of "creditor."
Fact Act regulations limit accessibility of CLUE reports to insurance carriers (and some agents if authority is given by their carrier), mortgagees and the homeowner – and only for their period of ownership. No one else can order a CLUE. However, nothing in the regulation prevents a buyer or potential buyer from requiring the seller/owner, as a condition of the offer, request and provide a copy of the CLUE. It's the homeowner's information, and what they do with it is up to them. Obviously, though, the seller can refuse or even redact information from the report deemed personal or irrelevant.
CLUE reports include personal and policy information such as the insured's name, date of birth, policy number, property address, claim information (such as date of loss, type of loss and amounts paid), and a description of the property covered. The loss information on the report includes all losses the owner requested the insurance carrier to pay (all claims) whether or not claim payment was made.
Up to seven years of claim information is contained in a CLUE report. If the seller has not lived in the house seven years, claims history covers only the amount of time the house was owned by the seller. The buyer is limited to the time period the seller occupied the house – unless the seller requested and received a report from the prior owner and still has it.
Again, only the homeowner can request a CLUE; and the information covers only the time period he or she has owned the house. To provide information beyond the ownership period appears to be a violation of the FACT Act.
Insurance carriers use CLUE reports to underwriter and rate new client policies. If it is a renewal, the carrier does not generally pull the report because they already have the claims history. If a company can demonstrate a correlation exists between the prior owner's loss and the probability of a future loss to the home, they are not prohibited from using the information in the CLUE. However, some states do limit the carrier's use of prior experience to the time that insured has owned the property. Debates regarding insurance carrier use of address-based reports regardless of ownership have long existed. (Editorial comment: Losses occurring during prior ownership should not be useable by underwriters. Too many factors play a part in losses, including the attitudes of the owner. Further, neither the new owner nor the carrier may be aware of mitigation activities undertaken by a prior owner to avoid future losses.)
CLUE reports are a product of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, which was previously known as ChoicePoint (a spinoff of Equifax). CLUE, Inc. is the subsidiary that maintains the insurance claims histories. CLUE reports can be ordered by the property owner by downloading the order form at https://personalreports.lexisnexis.com/pdfs/clue-order-by-mail.pdf and mailing it to CLUE, Inc. or by phone. The phone number is 866-312-8076. The completed form can be mailed to:
CLUE, Inc. Consumer Center
PO Box 105295
Atlanta, GA 30348-5295
Beyond property reports, CLUE, Inc. also manages auto reports.
Only insurance companies that subscribe to CLUE are allowed to contribute loss data to and access reports from CLUE. Some companies choose to not subscribe to CLUE. Losses filed with nonparticipating companies don't appear on a CLUE report.
If the insured discovers an error on the CLUE, they should contact LexisNexis directly and report the problem. LexisNexis contacts the insurance carrier on the insureds behalf, requests clarification, and notifies the insured of the results. LexisNexis has 30 days to conduct the investigation and will notify the insured of the results within five business days after completion of the investigation. If the insured feels an item in the report deserves or requires an explanation, they are allowed to submit a personal statement that LexisNexis will add to all future CLUE reports.
Last Updated: November 10, 2017