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

Shopping for Insurance in the Future

How you will shop for insurance in the future:

You: “Alexa, I want to shop for home and auto insurance.”

Alexa: “Ok. Since this is the first time I’ve done this for you, you’ll need to gather a few things. Are you ready to get started?

You: “Yep.”

Alexa: “take your phone to your filing cabinet and get out your current home and auto policies, social security cards, and drivers licenses so you can show them to me.”

You: “Hold on. That’s sensitive info. What are you doing with it and how will I know it’s safe?”

Alexa: “I’m glad you asked. Home and auto insurance are based on your credit, driving record, and claims history. Insurers use the info to verify your identity when accessing those records. I encrypt the data as soon as you give it to me and send it over a network that encrypts my encryption. If I have to store the information you give me then it’s always encrypted and I erase it after I’m done with it.”

You: “Ok. I can get you the policies and social security cards but I don’t have everyone’s drivers license right now.”

Alexa: “No problem. Show me your drivers license if you have it and I’ll ask the others when they come home.”

Youshows Alexa the info using the camera on your phone.

Alexa: “Got it. Ok. We’re insuring this house and your current cars, right?”

You: “That’s right.”

Alexa: “Great. I have almost everything I need. I’ll get the other two drivers license numbers and shop for your insurance. I’ll let you know when I have results. Do you want to know about each result as I find it, all results at once, or both?”

You: “Let me know when you get the other drivers license numbers and when you have at least 3 results.”

Alexa: “Ok.”

Alexa: “Welcome home from school, Jane. We’re shopping for auto insurance and I need your drivers license number. Can you show me your license with your smart phone?”

Janetexts you “Hey, Alexa just asked for my driver’s license number for insurance. Is that right?”

You: “Yes. It’s safe to give it. Thanks for checking.”

Jane: “Alexa, here’s my drivers license.” shows drivers license to Alexa

Alexa: “Hi, Joan. Hope you had a good day at work. We’re shopping for insurance and I need your drivers license number. Can you show me your drivers license with your phone?”

Joan: “Yep. One sec.” shows drivers license to Alexa

Alexa: “Ok, I have everything I need to shop for insurance. I’ll let you know when I have at least 3 quotes to compare.”

Alexa: “Great news. I have insurance quotes for you to compare. Would you like me to put them on the TV so you can take a look?”

You: “Yes, please.”

Alexa: puts comparison on TV “Ok. Your comparison is up on the TV now.”

Alexa: “Do you see any you want to buy?”

You: “I think so, but I’m not sure why XYZ Agency only quoted $50K less than everyone else on dwelling coverage.”

Alexa: “Would you like to contact the agent yourself or would you like me to do it for you?”

You: “Would you mind?”

Alexa: “Not at all.” Calls agent, no answer, leaves voice mail. Sends email.

Alexa: “I called the agent and left a voice mail. I also sent an email. I let you know when I get an answer”

You: “Please also let me know if you don’t get an answer by this time tomorrow.”

Alexa: “I heard from the agent at XYZ Agency. He said it was based on their rebuild cost estimate of $125 sq/ft. Are you ready to buy insurance?”

You: “Yes. I’ll go with ABC Agency.”

Alexa: “Ok. I’ll let them know you want to bind the policy. Your new service agent will contact you next.”

You: “Thanks, Alexa.”

Alexa: “My pleasure.”

Insurance and Empathy

Empathy and Emotional Intelligence by Roy Blumenthal

Featured image: “Empathy and Emotional Intelligence” by Roy BlumenthalCC BY-SA 2.0

Empathy and Emotional Intelligence by Roy BlumenthalEarlier this week I was chatting on LinkedIn messenger with my friend Alexander Tran, who happens to be a UX Designer at Embroker. Alex and I met when we worked together at Code for America. I pinged him when I realized that we were in the same industry again. It was surprising to us both that we would go from #civictech to #insurtech.

But then we realized we were both bringing many of the same motivations with us from one field to another.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 7.17.55 PM
Said I

Alex agreed.

This got me thinking about empathy and insurance. Is that weird?

I’m new to this industry, starting in 2014. Two things I learned in my first couple weeks have stuck with me ever since:

  1. Everyone needs insurance
  2. Most people don’t understand their insurance

Mainly I’m referring to property and casualty insurance though I’m sure this applies to all insurance. I could go as far as saying no one understands their insurance because I’m confident that I could surprise anyone with things they don’t know about their own policies. Every day we hear customers exclaiming, “wow, I didn’t know that!”

That just seems wrong to me. How can so many people be uninformed about something they are required to have and that has a huge impact on their most valued possessions? Righting that wrong is a big part of what drives me – us – at Comparity.

I don’t blame the insurance industry (for selling something nearly every single person must buy when there’s no practical ability to compare options) though it would be easy to do so.  Carriers are in the business of writing good insurance policies, not making it easier to shop.

Unfortunately, lead generators in the space are just selling and reselling contact information for someone who has said they want insurance and leaving it to agents to race to the customer. Read lead generators’ fine print. What buyer wants eight insurance agencies calling and selling them? BTW, agents hate it, too!

But the fact is that home insurance is complicated. There’s no other way to put it. Home and auto insurance with a family, a couple of teenagers, maybe a minor infraction is exponentially more complicated. It’s not just hard for buyers but sellers, too, including carriers and their agents.

This is the vibe that attracted me to insurance technology even before I fully realized it. Insurance is a massive marketplace affecting hundreds of millions of people, it’s an industry where simple technology applications can have exponential impact, and it’s desperately in need of technologists who have empathy.

There’s plenty of talk around #insurtech about disruption, with camps both favoring and marginalizing the idea. Sensors, big data, drones are all the rage. I get it. Those things are cool. But they don’t do anything at all to address the main problem with insurance: people don’t like it and don’t understand it even though they must have it. I certainly don’t want “empathy” to become insurance buzz d’jour but I would like to see more of it in #insurtech.

https://www.comparityins.com

Evidence of Insurance for mortgage closings

At COMPARITY we strive to simplify insurance shopping for everyone, including mortgage lenders. As we have grown, we learned from our mortgage Affiliates that an estimated 25%  of loan transactions experince pitfalls when it comes to obtaining the  Evidence of Insurance (a.k.a. Proof of Insurance) documentation  that is critical to their closings. Underwriters, Loan Officers and Loan Processors all reported a similar frequency of issues with obtaining this documentation. The complications result from the mortgage company not knowing where the client is in the process, not knowing who will be providing the insurance and routing that proof of coverage to the right people. This all too familiar pattern of inefficiency not only gobbles up time, but can lead to closing delays.

Today, I’m happy to report that we simplified Evidence of Insurance tracking for mortgage loan closings.

COMPARITY Affiliate notification for home insurance
Our affiliates don’t wonder what’s happening with their clients’ home insurance

Now when homebuyers use COMPARITY for insurance,  the process is streamlined for everyone involved.Our technology enables insurance agents to obtain the loan documentation (mortgagee clause and loan number) required to bind policies. When they are done binding the policy, they upload the Evidence of Insurance to our system which then notifies the loan officer,  underwriter  or loan processor as soon as it is available. What’s more, we update everyone on the status throughout the process. Our dashboard allows  agents and lenders to track  where their clients are in the insurance shopping process, see the quotes they have obtained and download Evidence of Insurance.

At COMPARITY, our mission is to simplify insurance for everyone. When it comes to a new home purchase, buyers, mortgage lenders, and insurance agents need to be in sync. There’s no reason that shouldn’t be simple, too.

If you want to learn more about how we can simplify insurance for your next home transaction please contact Mike Vernon at mike.vernon@comparityins.com or 757.333.0705

Understanding Auto Insurance Deductibles

 By Ashley Hathaway, Navigator

 

ms-office-clipart-confusionI would like to introduce you to my friend Jerry. When Jerry’s windshield cracked he called his insurance company to get it fixed. Jerry’s insurance company told him he had a $500 deductible. The new windshield costs $300. Jerry had to pay for it out of pocket. Don’t be like my friend Jerry.

Similar to my friend, many individuals do not know what their deductibles cover and what increment to choose. I would like to take the time to go over deductibles so that you have a better understanding and choose the right dollar amount for you.

The two coverages that come with deductibles are comprehensive and collision. Comprehensive covers you against theft, vandalism, acts of nature, etc. Keep in mind that a lot of insurers will also cover glass (windshields) under this coverage. As a rule of thumb, always make sure to ask your agent if glass is covered under comprehensive or covered separately (again I can’t stress enough don’t be like Jerry!). This is a key factor in determining what deductible to carry. The second coverage is collision. Collision coverage allows you to repair your vehicle if you are at fault accident, hit a tree, or run off into a ditch.

Now that we have that boring insurance stuff out of the way let’s talk about what deductibles to choose. The higher your deductible the lower your premium and vice versa. The most common deductibles are $500 for both comprehensive and collision. If your auto premium is already low, then I say go for it and lower those deductibles. I would recommend $100 for comprehensive and $250 for collision. Comprehensive claims are usually not as expensive as collision claims so carrying lower comprehensive makes more sense. If money is not an issue for you, then I would recommend $1,000 deductibles for both the comprehensive and collision. This way you won’t file a claim for minor things, if you had to you would be able to pay this out of pocket, and the best part is that makes your premium lower. I highly recommend avoid deductibles of $1,000 or more for either coverage. Do not choose a deductible, that if the time came and you needed to file a claim, you would not be able to come up with the money.

I hope this overview will help clarify your auto insurance options, and help you select the right deductibles. Remember that deductibles are personal to you. Feel free to share with your friends and we might just have one less Jerry on the streets.