The C.L.U.E. and You

Picture of damage from a house fire

Ok. Ready?

C.L.U.E. stands for Claims Loss Underwriting Exchange.

C.L.U.E., Inc., a subsidiary of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, maintains claims loss histories for everyone who’s ever had or now has property insurance. That means you.

C.L.U.E., Inc. maintains the database that includes your personal property loss history so that you can access it. Otherwise, the only ones who would know your claims history would be the insurance companies.

The C.L.U.E. Personal Property Report, according to LexisNexis’ FACT Act Disclosure:

provides a seven year history of losses associated with an individual and his/her personal property. The following data will be identified for each loss: date of loss, loss type, and amount paid along with general information such as policy number, claim number and insurance company name.

The idea of something “going on your record” for seven years might seem intimidating, but C.L.U.E is for your protection. It gives you the ability to see the same loss underwriting criteria that insurance companies use to rate your risk. It also protects the insurance market as a whole from fraud due to repetitive loss claims.

Not knowing how C.L.U.E. works can be a disadvantage, however. Every claim you make, no matter how small, will be on your record for seven years. That should make you think before filing a claim. Again, always talk to an agent responsible for servicing your policy before filing a claim.

Your C.L.U.E. Report is free and easy to get. You can download it from LexisNexis after creating an account to verify your identity.

Is this information helpful? I want to know. If you have more questions about anything here, please ask. Hit me up in the comments. I’ll be happy to discuss more.

Scott Hunter

Founder/CEO

COMPARITY

Home Insurance 101

Home Insurance 101

Insurance Information Institute concluded in their “2016 Consumer Insurance Survey” “Homeowners Insurance: Understanding, Attitudes and Shopping Practices” (February 2017)

homeowners have gaps in their knowledge of their coverage. For example, many policyholders do not recognize that most flood damage is not covered by their basic homeowners insurance.

1,006 people were surveyed for the report.

I can certainly attest, with our headquarters in a coastal city, neighboring the city ranked 2nd behind New Orleans in terms of threat by coastal flooding, that many home buyers and home owner misunderstand flood insurance. Flood insurance is a separate policy from home insurance. Many people do not know that home insurance does not cover flood. (The same goes for earthquakes.)

The report also concluded that most home owners do have a basic understanding of their home insurance policy. That’s great! We’ve served over 2000 customers at COMPARITY. So I can also attest that everyone struggles to understand their home insurance – even if they think they understand or don’t want to admit otherwise.

There are definitely some who care about details much less than others. They figure that they don’t have much control. They don’t want to waste time thinking about insurance. They just want to that know the company issuing their policy is solid and not ripping them off. “I’m required to have this. Just make it easy.”

I get it. I also think, because home insurance is something most home buyers must have, they should gain the upper hand with a simple education.

I want to make it easy. Here’s my Home Insurance 101.

DISCLAIMER: THIS INFORMATION IS SHARED FOR GENERAL, EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. ALWAYS CONSULT DIRECTLY WITH A LICENSED INSURANCE AGENT WHEN CONSIDERING THESE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS IN YOUR OWN, UNIQUE SITUATION.

This is insurance for what is likely your most valuable financial asset. Risk is inherent for everyone involved. Again, consult a licensed insurance professional about this when you are at that point. If you don’t want to ask an agent providing a quote, you can ask us. Start with online chat on our website.

Basics

I’ll summarize a few fundamentals here, but I’m going to assume you know why insurance exists and how it works. This is the run down specifically on home insurance. A companion to the info below is our handy reference guide for insurance vocabulary on our web site.

Coverages

Coverages are the things protected by your insurance. If you experience loss of all or part of your home, or items in your home, or if people are injured on or by your property, then your home insurance coverage pays or otherwise compensates for the loss.

Typical home coverages are:

  • Dwelling Amount – for rebuilding or repairing all or part of your home
  • Loss of Use – for not being able to live in your home while it is rebuilt or repaired (Not for remodeling!)
  • Medical Payments – for paying some medical expenses when others are injured
  • Other Structures – for rebuilding other man-made structures on your property, ex., shed, separate garage, stone wall
  • Personal Property – for the items you own in your home, ex., wardrobe, furniture
  • Personal Liability – for protecting your estate against major loss due to your liability

There are also common, optional coverages called “Endorsements”. I think it’s probably simplest to think of them as coverages. Typical home endorsements are:

  • Ordinance & Law – for when a loss requires an update due to new building codes
  • Water-Sewer Backup – for when the connector line between your house and the main utility line causes water or sewage to back up into your home

Deductibles

Deductibles are the amount subtracted from the insurance company’s compensation as your responsibility. Deductibles offset insurance carriers’ risk of excessive claims for minor losses.

Rule of Thumb: If a loss recovery costs less than, equal to, or only slightly more than your deductible then you should not claim the loss and should pay for the repair yourself.

Typical home deductibles are:

  • All Peril – general damage to your home
  • Wind & Hail – damage caused by any type of wind and/or hail
  • Named Storm – damage caused during periods of government-issued storm warnings

What’s the difference between “wind and hail”, “hurricane”, “tropical cyclone”, and “named storm”?

This one is tricky because weather is tricky. To complicate matters, news media are beginning to name winter storms. However, the National Weather Service does not name winter storms.

“Named storm” in the context of home insurance refers to a non-winter, wind-related weather event as named by the National Weather Service. Named storm deductible is “activated” when the National Weather Service issues a storm warning. Named storm deductible applies until some period after NWS lifts final storm warning. All damage that occurs during the activation period is subject to the named storm deductible and not the all peril deductible. In most cases there is no difference between “named storm”, “hurricane”, and “tropical cyclone” as these are geographic distinctions.

“Wind and hail” is a broader distinction than “named storm”. “Wind and hail” typically covers all wind-related weather events, including named storms. If your policy or quote has a named storm deductible and no wind and hail deductible then all wind and hail events that are not named storms are treated as all peril.

Lowering Premiums

Yes, you can lower premiums by reducing coverage and/or increasing deductibles. Consider it carefully.

Will you be able to make up a difference in higher deductible if you are suddenly faced with it?

I just saw a comparison for one of our customers that compared a 1% and 2% hurricane deductible for a dwelling valued at $375,000. That’s a difference between a $3,750 and a $7,500 deductible. If a hurricane causes $7,400 in damage that home owner will pay 100% out of pocket for the repair.

Words to the Wise

There are few things with insurance that seem to trip up most everyone.

Percentage-based Deductibles

When you have a percentage based deductible the percentage applies to the amount of your dwelling, not the amount of your loss. So, if you have a 200,000 home and a 1% deductible then your deductible is 2,000.

Percentage-based Coverages

When you have percentage based coverage, the percentage also applies to the amount of your dwelling, not the amount of your loss.

Claims

Always call or write your agent before making a claim. Your agent will help you determine if a loss is covered and if it makes financial sense to report the loss. Don’t make small claims, especially if you can afford the recovery yourself.

Only claim losses when you need the insurance to help you recover. It’s not worth adding a small claim to the Claims Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) Report on your property and personal housing record.

I’ll write more in the future about the CLUE report and how it affects you. (UPDATE)

We make it easy for you understand an insurance applicationAll of this information is embedded in our online application, which you can browse entirely without entering any information. We want it to be easy for you to understand an insurance application before you submit it. Check it out.

Is this information helpful? I want to know. If you have more questions about anything here, please ask. Hit me up in the comments. I’ll be happy to discuss more.

Scott Hunter

Founder/CEO

COMPARITY

Understanding Auto Insurance

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report “Traffic Safety Facts 2013” showed that there were over 5.6M motor vehicle accidents and more than 37,000 motor vehicle related fatalities. It is evident from these statistics that operating a motor vehicle comes with inherent risk. This is why all motorists are required to carry liability coverage and why I think they should always carry the maximum liability coverage that they can afford.

As a general rule, I recommend that any homeowner carry a minimum liability coverage of $100,000 bodily injury per person, $300,000 bodily injury per accident, and $100,000 in property damage coverage. In the industry, we it “100-300-100” coverage and it works for most people.

Our online application explains each coverage item for you
Our online application explains each coverage item for you

Some states have what we call “state minimum liability coverage”. This is the lowest amount of liability coverage required to be on the road. I almost never recommend state minimum coverage but it can work for people who are in or near poverty.

Higher net worth individuals, and families with young drivers on their policy, should carry higher liability limits and even consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy. These policies typically offer coverage starting at $1M, which is then “added onto” or “extends” your underlying auto liability coverage. These policies often cost as little as $200-$300 per year and the added protection is well worth the additional expense.

Many insured mistakenly refer to state minimum liability coverage as “full coverage.” It is not. “Full coverage” means that you carry comprehensive and collision coverage in addition to the required liability limits.

It's important for everyone to understand basic insurance terms
It’s important for everyone to understand basic insurance terms.

Comprehensive and Collision Coverage are voluntary. They are for covering the costs of repairing or replacing your car as the result of an accident when you are at fault or there is no fault assigned to someone else. We recommend that individuals operating late model cars (manufactured within the last 8-10 years) carry these coverages and typically we recommend deductibles of $250-$500 for both. If a vehicle is more than 10 years old the individual may want to forego these coverages. It is purely an individual preference and should be based upon the value and condition of the vehicle being insured, and the budget of the insured.

If cost is an issue, insureds can choose to waive voluntary or elective coverage such as Roadside Assistance, Rental Reimbursement, and others, but a driver should avoid state minimum liability coverage whenever possible.

So, to summarize:

  • Liability is the only required coverage
  • Start at “100-300-100” liability
  • Avoid state minimum liability
  • Increase liability and consider an umbrella if your net worth at or over $1m
  • Get Comprehensive and Collision coverage if you car is less than 10 years old
  • Try to keep your Comprehensive and Collision coverage deductibles under $500 each

Scott Hunter

Founder/CEO

COMPARITY

Good lenders care about their borrowers’ insurance coverage- not just price.

run down houseInsurance costs are a component of the debt to income ratio (DTI) used to qualify a borrower for a loan, so it’s logical that lenders pay attention to the costs of their borrowers’ policies. But should they care about the coverage of their borrowers’ policies?

Aside from making sure that the replacement estimate meets the appraised guidelines, or ensuring that the borrower carries flood insurance in a required flood zone, do Lenders need to care about other policy details?

ABSOLUTELY!

A bad policy, or deficient coverage can put the lender’s asset, against which the client is borrowing, at tremendous risk. Two areas in particular can create problem scenarios.

Deductibles. 

Clients that chooses high deductibles simply to save on annual premiums, put themselves and their lender in jeopardy. If borrowers don’t have the income or savings to cover a high deductible following a loss, it could lead to the property falling into disrepair thus increasing the foreclosure risk.

Inadequate or Missing Coverage.

Borrowers will frequently reduce coverage, or waive coverage recommendations altogether, just to save a few dollars on annual premiums. Here are some key coverage facts that lenders and borrowers should know:

  • Homeowners’ liability coverage is inexpensive. Stripping a policy down to $100,000 in liability coverage will only save a few dollars a year, and greatly increases the insureds exposure. COMPARITY recommends a minimum of $300,000 in liability coverage for all insureds, and suggests that insureds buy the maximum coverage available if possible.
  • Older homes should always have “Ordinance & Law” or “Building Codes” coverage. Failing to have this coverage could result in the insured having a large out of pocket expense in the event of a loss. COMPARITY automatically recommends this coverage to any homebuyer that is purchasing a home that is more than 20 years old.
  • Make sure that policies have “Extended Replacement” Coverage. This helps guard against inflation and rising building costs that could threaten the insured ability to be made whole following a loss. COMPARITY requests that all agents quote at least 25% extended replacement on all homeowners’ insurance quotes.

Insurance is another area where Lenders can help borrowers make good decisions. Always recommend that your borrowers compare their options, seek the advice of a knowledgeable agent, and remember that saving a few dollars today isn’t as important as properly protecting the borrowers most important asset. It’s important to be price conscious, but don’t be “penny wise and pound foolish.”

Scott Hunter

Founder/CEO

COMPARITY LLC

Are you a loan officer or loan processor?

Let us show you how can simplify insurance for all of your loans:

 

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Comparity is LendingQB’s official partner for home insurance. We’re integrated with LendingQB’s loan origination software to make it easy for lenders to help their clients buy home insurance and keep track of necessary insurance documentation for their closings.

Send email to integrations@lendingqb.com to request the Comparity home insurance integration.

Comparity, LendingQB Partner, to Provide Industry-First Integration Between Hazard Insurance and Loan Origination Software

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5 things to know when shopping online for insurance

Online shopping is great, right? From the convenience of a search engine or favorite online retail site, we can browse any product, compare options from different sellers, and click to buy what we want, when we want it. When it comes to shopping for home and auto insurance, however, it’s a much different story. Although it’s been around for several years now, online shopping for property and casualty insurance still does not meet expectations of buyer or sellers. There are both good and bad reasons for missed expectations. The brief article covers what we consider to be the most important aspects of online insurance shopping.

1. Instant estimates are not quotes

Online shoppers expect immediate results. There are insurance shopping sites that claim to provide instant prices. More often than not, these prices are rough estimates and don’t represent actual quotes on policies that can be purchased. In order for a price to be a valid quote it must be based on a completed application that has been through some form of underwriting. If a shopper enters only contact information and the year, make, and model of their car to get back an instant price they are getting an estimate. That estimate could change drastically once driving record and credit history are checked and those can’t be checked without more information from the customer.

2. Hard referrals are hard

All the information people provide to so-called insurance shopping sites must be provided separately to the insurers. That’s because the only relationships between online shopping web sites and insurance companies are strictly for marketing services. Most sites that claim to offer online shopping for insurance are really just digital versions of familiar marketing gimmicks. That should make you wonder, “what does that insurance shopping site do with my information?”

3. Your information is sold

Always read the fine print when it comes to your personal insurance, starting at the beginning when you are ready to shop. If you do read the fine print you will see that the way most online insurance shopping sites work is by selling customer contact information multiple times. We assert that people’s information is sold so many times that it become effectively worthless to everyone.

4. You aren’t really shopping

There are some web sites operated by legitimate insurance companies that claim to compare options among their competitors. However, no insurance companies that want you to come their site in order to buy insurance from a competitor. All insurance companies know that if they are the first to engage you then you will probably buy from them no matter what. The fact that it’s hard to shop for and buy insurance has a lot to do with it.

5. You can take control

Whether we’re talking about digital marketers selling contact leads or insurance companies claiming “we’ll show you the other guys’ prices”, it should be clear by now that so-called online insurance “shopping” is really online insurance selling. Furthermore, what masquerades as online insurance shopping can undermine the interests of buyers and sellers, alike.

In order for online shopping for insurance to meet our expectations, as either buyers or sellers, it has to work the same way as online shopping for anything else. Sure, there are some things that make shopping for insurance inherently different, but we know these can be overcome. To meet expectation, insurance shoppers should have the ability to fill out one insurance application to get back many quotes. Insurance sellers should be able to offer a quoted product online without having to pay to put it in front of the customer. The products that are offered should be the products that are sold, and not resemblances of the products. When the transaction is complete, everyone should be assured that the only role of online shopping was to connect buyers with sellers in a convenient and efficient way.

That’s what we do at COMPARITY: https://www.comparityins.com