The world of insurance is ruled by statistics. Actuaries collect all the information they can about every traffic accident in the US. Then, because everyone wants the most complete information possible, the insurers share the information about their own claims and the accidents they have found where no claim was made. It makes for an impressive amount of data. The majority of the information about claims is routed through the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE). Because this is a national resource, all the major insurers from around the country search it before making quotes for new business. If there are no claims registered against your name, the premium will be the standard rates for someone of your gender, age and driving experience with local variations based on where you live. But if one or more claims are registered, the new insurers may decide you are a high-risk driver and try to deter you with a high premium. There’s nothing illegal or unethical about this. It’s just the way the business works.
Because it’s a national resource, the quality of the information is usually quite reliable. When a search is made, your history over the last seven years is supplied. If you are worried about what data is stored about you, the Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to a copy. Write to Consumer Disclosure, PO Box 105108, Atlanta, Georgia 30348-5108, or you can call (866) 527-2600 toll free. If you find any of the information is wrong, you are either allowed to have it put right or to have an explanatory note attached to the information explaining how the loss came to be made. Unfortunately, some of the insurers run private exchanges in individual states. It can be more difficult to police the accuracy of this information. That’s why it’s good news to see Attorneys General policing the system. In Massachusetts, for example, ten insurance companies have agreed to pay penalties for failing to correct records in their private exchange. The initial findings of at-fault were accurate, but the companies then failed to record when appeals reversed the findings. This left thousands of motorists wrongly recorded as at fault. So, if you have any reason to suspect your local insurance industry is relying on inaccurate information about your claims history, it’s vital you take action. Failure to have the record set straight can cost you thousands of dollars over the years. If the information in CLUE is correct, get your local state’s Department of Insurance to check into any local databases.
As with every computer system around the US, the quality of the information is only as good as the clerks who input the data. It’s so easy to make a mistake. A single keystroke on one variable – at fault/not at fault – can represent major increases in your premium rates. So, if you get unexpectedly high car insurance quotes from your internet searches, you should check out the quality of the information stored against your name. Go to CLUE. Ask about state exchanges. No-one else is going to do it for you. Having the courage to challenge the system is what earns you cheap car insurance rates for the years to come.