The last thing people want to think about is their accident history. Unfortunately, your accident history plays a huge role in determining your auto insurance rates. Do you actually need to know this history, and how does it affect your rates?
What’s the Difference Between Claims History and an MVR?
The simple answer is, not much. However, there are a few different terms that are similar yet different that are important to understand.
An MVR is short for Motor Vehicle Record. These are driving records that are kept by each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
MVRs show all information related to a person’s driving history. This includes basic information such as driver’s license number and address but also includes things such as accident reports, traffic violations, license suspensions, and vehicular crimes.
A CLUE Report is short for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange. It’s basically a giant database that insurance companies all use to look claims on a particular property. It doesn’t follow people, it follows the property. So with auto insurance, that means vehicles.
The information in those two items is used to determine your claims report, which is simply the number and type of claims that you’ve filed with each insurance company. It contains information such as the date of the claim, who was at-fault, the amount of money paid, when the claim was closed, etc.
Why Do Insurance Companies Look at My Claims History?
Insurance companies are very interested in both your claims history and your driving history. The reason has to do with how insurance evaluates each risk they insure.
Insurance companies have to pay out money for every claim their customers have. If the amount of money they payout is higher than what they’ve brought in, then the company will lose money in a given year.
Insurance companies look at a huge amount of data regarding claims, driving activity, and what type of people are getting into the worst claims. While everyone is likely to be in some type of accident at some point in their lives, the data shows that people who have been in an accident are more likely to be in a 2nd, or 3rd, or 4th accident.
This means that insurance companies will be more likely to pay out more money on those people. Many insurance companies even have guidelines that prevent them from writing someone’s auto insurance if they have more than 1 or 2 claims in the past 3-5 years because they don’t want to take the risk of insuring a driver who is more likely to be involved in an accident.
Do I Need to Know My Claims Activity?
Technically, you don’t ever need to know your claims history or driving record in order to get auto insurance. Chances are since you were the driver involved, you probably already know your claims history.
However, there are a few situations where it can help to know for sure what is on your claims history.
One situation is to know the dates of accidents. Insurance companies tend to look back at either 3 or 5 years of your driving history, so if you have one or two accidents that are close to “falling off” of that 3 or 5 year period, this is important.
Once those accidents are past the 3-5 year time period, you can probably save quite a bit of money by shopping around for a new company where those accidents won’t affect your rates. Even if you stay with the same company, you’ll want to see if they will drop your rates and potentially give you a safe driver discount.
Another situation is to verify the accuracy of those reports. It’s not common for these reports to be inaccurate, but it does happen. For example, a report might say that an accident is an at-fault accident when it really wasn’t, or that it is still open when it’s actually been closed for a while.
These things have an impact on your rates, so if you see a discrepancy, then you’ll need to show the insurance company proof to get it fixed.
How Can I Get a Copy of My Claims History?
Usually, reports such as the MVR, CLUE report, and claims report are not kept by each individual person. These are usually documents that are kept by the state and insurance companies.
These reports are obtainable if you want to have your own copy.
For your MVR, visit your state’s DMV website and follow the instructions to obtain your copy for a small fee.
For your CLUE report, you can either ask your insurance company or buy one from LexisNexis on their website.
These two reports should give you most of the information that you would need. However, you can also get your claims document from your insurance company or agent.
If you had different insurance companies for different accidents, then you would need to ask each one for your claims report.
Alternatively, if you’ve been with different companies but the same independent agent, then your independent agent could put all your claims information on one document.