Consider, in addition to your regular pre-contract inspection, a C. L. U. E. report.
"A home's CLUE loss history report provides insurance company names and policy numbers and any claim numbers. The report lists the dates of any claims, the loss types and amounts paid for losses, and it will tell if a claim was denied.
Weather-related losses, fires, theft, vandalism and water damage are some of the types of claims listed, says Passmore. But the report doesn't indicate what part of the property or home was affected. You'd need to ask the homeowner for those details.
A report might be blank, for two reasons:
- The homeowner did not make any claims in the past seven years.
- The home was covered by an insurance company that doesn't participate in CLUE.
How to get a CLUEA free CLUE report can be obtained once a year from database giant LexisNexis. Requests can be made online or by calling (866) 312-8076.
Here's the catch for a homebuyer: Only the owner of a property may access its CLUE report.
"You must request the report from the owner of the home you're considering buying," says Karl Newman, president of the NW Insurance Council in Seattle.
Newman says a savvy seller should obtain a CLUE report before showing the home, make several copies and have those available for potential buyers.
Even a homeowner who's not in the market to sell may want to get a CLUE report -- to check for any inaccuracies.
"Since the CLUE report is one of many pieces of information that an insurer might look at, what is in the report can influence your premiums positively or negatively," says Passmore. "So if there are any inaccuracies, it's important to get them corrected, just as it would be for your credit report."