Car insurance companies keep track of the claims that all of their customers file. The number of claims you file can affect the overall cost of your insurance – companies charge customers more if they file claims frequently. However, you may be wondering how inquiries affect your record. Inquiries are when a customer calls to ask about potentially filing a claim. Here’s what to keep in mind about car insurance inquiries and how they can affect your long-term record.
Car Insurance Inquiries Go on Your CLUE Report
Auto insurers keep very close track of their conversations with customers. When you call to ask about potentially filing a claim, they will likely record this as an inquiry, which will go on your CLUE report. CLUE stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, and they provide information about the insurance claims you have filed over the last seven years. When you apply for a new car insurance policy, your insurer will ask for your CLUE report. Inquiries are listed on the report separately from claims. Not all insurance companies will give inquiry information to CLUE, but most do.
Insurance Inquiries Likely Won’t Affect Your Rates
Insurance companies will look at your history of inquiries when determining your rates. However, they won’t factor inquiries into your rates the same way they would with a claim. This is because most inquiries don’t result in actual claims, so the insurance company won’t need to make a payment. However, if you have a long history of making frequent inquiries, your rates could go up slightly. If you have a claims-free discount, you can also lose it if you make an inquiry. If this happens, contact your insurance company. If the claim never went through, they can remove it from your record and reinstate your claims-free discount.
Some rare companies will report insurance inquiries as claims. If this you note multiple ‘claims’ on your report that you haven’t actually filed, this could be why. To keep your insurance rates from going up because of this, you can contact LexisNexis, which is the company that runs the CLUE report. They will correct any erroneous information after looking into the matter.
What Qualifies as an Inquiry?
Different insurance companies track their inquiries differently. However, any time you call your insurance company to ask about the possibility of filing a claim, they will usually report it as an inquiry. However, some insurance companies will only report inquiries when you file a claim that gets denied. When you initially shop for insurance policies, you can ask your agent how your company handles inquiries and claims and what will go onto your report.
When Should You Start an Insurance Inquiry?
Since inquiries are recorded on your CLUE report, it’s important to be careful when talking to your insurance company to avoid future issues. Before contacting your insurance company, think carefully about whether or not you need to file a claim, or whether your claim will actually be approved. For example, if you don’t have comprehensive coverage and your car has been vandalized, your insurance probably won’t cover the damages, so it makes more sense not to call them and to just pay for the damages yourself. You might also want to avoid filing a claim if the cost of repairing your car is the same or only slightly higher than your deductible. Yes, you’ll have to pay for the repairs out of pocket, but it will actually save you money later on because you won’t have to worry about your rates going up.
When Should You Contact Your Car Insurance Company?
However, there are instances where you should contact your insurance company without worrying about inquiries or claims. Any instance where another party is involved requires assistance from your insurer. Even if it’s just a small collision where no one was hurt, you never know how the other party is going to interpret the accident, which could lead to problems later on. After an accident involving another party, even a small one, you should take photos of the damage and write down your own account of what happened. You should also contact your insurance company if you or anyone else was seriously injured in a car crash, or the damages are potentially very expensive. In this case, it’s worth the risk of having an inquiry on your record – you want to make sure the insurance company is on your side. If you put off contacting your insurance company, it could make it difficult to file a claim later on.
If you’re particularly worried about a car insurance inquiry going on your long-term record, try to phrase it as a hypothetical, making it clear that you are not filing a claim. When you call, specify multiple times that you are just asking about a hypothetical situation and want to learn more about your policy. If there are any instances where your car insurance company is treating an inquiry as a claim, don’t hesitate to call them and clear up the problem. If you can prove that the inquiry did not lead to a claim, your rates shouldn’t go up. You may even want to record phone calls and take screenshots of your interactions with your car insurance company, just to make sure that you have proof if you need to debate them on any inquiries. This evidence can also help if you want to make any changes to your LexisNexis CLUE report later on.