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In the last week, I have received calls from three different people who have been involved in accidents with uninsured motorists. This means that I cannot help them recover all their medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering. I feel so badly for them and wanted to let you all know what you could do to help protect yourself.
Did you know that approximately 1 in 4 drivers in Florida are not insured? And nationally, the rate is about 1 in 7. A partial answer to this horrifying statistic is that I would highly recommend everyone carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. It is relatively cheap to purchase when renewing your auto insurance and a real-life saver should you be involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage is basically what the name suggests, a driver and vehicle without an auto insurance policy. But, what does it mean to be underinsured? Let’s say you’re involved in a crash in which the other driver is at fault. You find out the other driver only has $10,000 in bodily injury liability coverage and that amount is not enough to cover your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. In this case, the other driver would be considered under-insured—meaning that they have an auto policy but it’s not enough to cover all of your damages.
This is something you’ll need to think about, as the limits for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can range from $10,000 to over $1 million. Some people choose a limit equal to their bodily injury liability limit, but that’s not always a requirement. For help deciding, you may want to consider a number of factors, including what kind of health insurance you have and whether you have access to short- and long-term disability through your employer to ensure you don’t lose out on wages if you’re too injured to work.
What does uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage typically cover? With this added coverage, your insurance company basically steps into the shoes of the at-fault driver, therefore, it covers the same damages as bodily injury liability insurance: past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages and, if you are permanently injured, past and future non-economic damages like pain, suffering, scarring, disfigurement and loss of the ability to enjoy life.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage provides coverage to the driver and all passengers in the insured vehicle. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage also follows the insured. For example, if you are a passenger in your friend’s car and an uninsured/underinsured motorist injures you when he crashes into your friend’s car, your policy will cover your damages not covered by the at-fault driver to the limits of your own underinsured/underinsured motorist policy.
Should you be involved in an accident, be sure to get medical help immediately and if you have questions about the accident, please give me a call for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 to help you.

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clue-report-320x240

One of the best kept consumer secrets out there is the little-known CLUE report, which is made available to insurance companies on every single insurance consumer. I found this great information for my friends on the Blog 20somethingfinance.com by G.E. Miller. The CLUE report is the insurance-world equivalent of a credit report on insurance consumers and can have a profound impact on your personal property and auto insurance rates. However, despite its importance, only 1% of consumers said they were very familiar with the CLUE report and only 17% had ever heard of it. If you don’t know what a CLUE report is and how it can be used against you – I strongly recommend you read on.

Crusading for vulnerable consumers has become a deeply passionate pursuit of mine, so I decided to dig in to and find out answers to the following questions (and even ordered my own report in the process):

  • what is a CLUE report?
  • what information is reported?
  • when is information reported?
  • can your CLUE report be used against you to charge higher rates?
  • how far back do CLUE report claims and inquiries go?
  • when should you check your CLUE report?
  • how can you dispute any incorrect information?
  • how can you get a free CLUE report?

Hopefully you find this CLUE report overview helpful.

What is a CLUE Report?

CLUE is an acronym for the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange database, where insurers provide and obtain information regarding your insurance claims history. A CLUE report is a registered trademark of and generated by LexisNexis, an insurance consumer reporting agency (similar to credit reporting agencies like TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, but for insurance instead).

There are actually 2 types of CLUE reports:

  1. CLUE Property Claims Report (i.e. for homeowner insurance claims)
  2. CLUE Auto Claims Report

The reports cover your personal property and personal auto claims history and are used by insurers to document your claims and inquiries and determine your risk profile, which impacts your insurance premiums.

What Information is Included in CLUE Reports?

The following information is contained in CLUE reports for each insurance consumer:

  • name
  • date of birth (partially edited out for security reasons)
  • Social Security Number (completely edited out for security reasons)
  • policy holder
  • policy number
  • gender
  • claim number
  • claim date
  • driver’s license, vehicle make and model, VIN# in the CLUE Auto Claims Report
  • description of the covered property and/or address of property in the CLUE Property Claims Report
  • type of claim
  • amount of claim
  • loss status
  • possible related claims
  • list or record of companies that have inquired about your loss history in the last two 2 years
  • your inquiry history (if submitted by insurer)

When Does an Insurer Contribute to a CLUE Report?

Insurers report to LexisNexis in the following scenarios:

  1. when they pay a claim
  2. when they set up a possible claim
  3. when they formally deny a claim
  4. when they receive an inquiry into a possible claim (not all submit this)

Inquiry history is key. If you call your insurer merely to inquire about damage and whether you should file a claim, a notation will get made. LexisNexis advises insurance companies not to report claims information when you contact them to simply ask a question about coverage or your deductible. However, they often do. This could come back to haunt you if someone asks you for a copy of your report later, you want to change policies, or have another claim later on.

Can your CLUE Report be Used Against you to Charge Higher Rates?

Unfortunately, yes. Insurers will typically request a CLUE report when you apply for new coverage or request a quote. The company will use your claim history and/or the history of claims at a specific property to decide if they will offer you coverage and how much in premiums you’ll pay for that coverage. Past claims are used as an indicator of future claims and to determine your risk profile. If you’ve had auto or personal property claims, you will typically pay more for future coverage.

Here are just a few of the ways your CLUE reports can be used against you:

  • Inaccurate information can be included in the report.
  • Fraudulent insurance claims made by others in your name may be included in your report.
  • Any recent claims against the property that you are purchasing can increase your rates on that property.
  • A report may use information other than claims data to rate you as a risk – even if the company doesn’t pay a claim. For example, a loss may fall below your deductible and the claim is denied or you are advised not to submit a claim. Even simple phone calls to inquire can be used against you.
  • Even when repairs are made and the property is restored to the original condition or you are not at fault in an accident, the CLUE report can include information about the claim.

All of this information in the report can affect the premiums you pay as well as whether you are insured at all if you are deemed to be a high enough risk. Scary, right?

How Far Back do CLUE Report Histories go?

Given the impact on insurance premium rates, one would naturally wonder how far back CLUE report claims and inquiries go. In other words, what is the historical lookback period for CLUE reports? CLUE reports typically contain up to seven years of claim history. According to LexisNexis,

“If you have not filed a claim against your auto or property insurance policy in the last 7 years, you will likely receive a clear report.”

When Should you Check your CLUE Report?

After researching CLUE reports in depth, here is when I plan to review mine (and others) for accuracy (note: you’re entitled to one of each report for free once per year):

  1. Once a year prior to policy renewals.
  2. Whenever I go shopping for a new insurance plan.
  3. Whenever I am in a car accident and make a claim.
  4. Whenever I look to purchase a new home, I will check my CLUE Property Claims Report and ask for a copy from the property owner of the property I am looking to purchase. In some states, sellers are legally required to disclose any damage or repairs – but that doesn’t mean they will. And getting a report from a third party to confirm is a smart move in case they are withholding information.
  5. Whenever I sell a home (if I have a good record to show, this can be a selling point).

How to Dispute your CLUE Report

CLUE report errors are possible can have a costly negative impact on your insurance rates. Errors can range from a simple error in data entry or information reported by insurer to fraudulent claims made in your name. You shouldn’t have to pay for someone’s mistake or fraudulent activities. Thankfully, there is a means to dispute incorrect information in your CLUE report. LexisNexis has the following to say about filing CLUE report disputes:

Upon receipt of your dispute, we have 30 days to conduct a reinvestigation of the information disputed and to record the current status of the information on your file or, in some instances, delete the information from your file. We will provide you with notice of the results of our reinvestigation no later than 5 business days after the completion of the reinvestigation. This notice will be provided to you by mail.

You can dispute by contacting LexisNexis by phone at 888-497-0011 or mail at LexisNexis Consumer Center, P.O. Box 105108, Atlanta, GA, 30348.

If the matter isn’t resolved to your satisfaction, you have the right to add a statement summarizing the nature of the dispute, which will appear in future CLUE reports. If you still don’t get results, you can contact your state insurance commissioner or file a complaint with the FTC.

 

How to Get a Free CLUE Report

Similar to how you can get one free credit report per year from each of the major credit bureaus (tip: you can also get free updated TransUnion and Equifax credit reports from Credit Karma any time) – you can click here to order your free CLUE report online, which is probably the easiest way to obtain your CLUE report.

You can also order by mail, or call LexisNexis toll free: 866-312-8076, Monday – Saturday, 24 hours/day, Sunday: 10:00 am to midnight EST. Ordering online is easiest.

You can get one free CLUE Property Claims Report and one free CLUE Auto Claims Report per year – and they can be ordered separately or together at the same time.

 

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download (1)
What is GAP Insurance and why should I add this coverage to my automobile policy?
GAP insurance or “guaranteed auto protection” is a coverage that you may purchase for your already existing automobile insurance policy. This coverage will pay for the difference between your vehicle’s actual cash value and the amount that you still owe to the bank or finance company at the time of loss. Insurance companies will only pay what your vehicle is worth at the time of loss (actual cash value) and if the vehicle is depreciated they will deduct that amount. Therefore, you could end up paying for the difference of the amount you owe on your car loan and the car’s current estimated value. As a result, you may want to purchase GAP insurance in order to protect your investment.
Over the years I have had many clients who were injured in auto accidents in Florida and time and time again my clients assumed that their comprehensive and collision insurance will pay for their vehicle damage. These clients were surprised to find out that at the conclusion of the case they did not receive full compensation in their property damage because they did not purchase GAP insurance. So do your research and contact your insurance company and request a quote for GAP insurance coverage before you really need it!

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women-motorcycles-jeans-brunettes

So, how do motorcycle insurers come up with their rates, anyway?

Believe it or not, they base their premiums on sound statistical data that helps them determine the likelihood of you filing a claim (and costing them money). Insurance companies consider a number of factors, including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Vehicle type
  • Marital status
  • Accident history
  • Driving record (moving violations)
  • Annual mileage
  • Credit score

In general, those who are younger than 25, female, married, live in a rural location, don’t ride much, drive a safe but inexpensive bike, and have a clean driving history and great credit are treated to the best rates.

Motorcycles are fun and fuel efficient. That’s not news to anyone who’s ridden one. But neither is the fact that they’re also way more dangerous than a car. The cold reality is that motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than people in a car, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). And nearly half of all motorcycle deaths are the result of single-vehicle crashes.

The numbers are even scarier for older riders, who are increasingly taking up or returning to motorcycling after many years. Because of slower reflexes, weaker eyesight, more brittle bones, and other disadvantages, riders over 60 years old are three times more likely to be hospitalized after a crash than younger ones.

Still, many enthusiasts enjoy a lifetime of riding without injury. The key to optimizing your odds is to be prepared and avoid risks. Keep in mind that 48 percent of fatalities in 2010 involved speeding, according to the IIHS, and alcohol was a factor in 42 percent. Eliminate those factors and you’ve dramatically reduced your risk and hopefully, your rates.

Be safe out there friends!