How to Find a Home's Claims History

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

(Image credit: © Micah Young)

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 (click on “additional reports”).

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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.

Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.