insurance

How to Find a Home's Claims History

Ask for the seller’s disclosure report to uncover problems that could affect your homeowners premiums.

Question: I’m buying a house and heard I should get the CLUE report. What is it, and how do I get it? --N.S., Sioux City, Iowa

Answer: The Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) is a database in which insurers share information about home insurance claims to help identify a property’s risks when setting premiums. The CLUE report shows the amount, type and date of each claim over the past five years, so it can alert home buyers to potential problems that could cause costly damage and perhaps affect their insurance rates.

Home buyers can’t order the report, but your real estate agent can ask the seller for a copy of the “Home Seller’s Disclosure Report,” a version of the CLUE report that excludes personal details. Sellers aren’t obligated to provide the report but will likely do so when they’re motivated to sell. Homeowners can order the report for $19.50 at Personalreports.lexisnexis.com (click on “additional reports”).

If claims indicate a chronic issue, ask what the homeowner has done to fix the problem. For example, if there was a water backup in the basement, find out whether the owner installed new drain tiles or added backup power to keep the sump pump running during an electrical outage, says Rebecca Korach Woan, CEO of Chartwell Insurance Services in Chicago.

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