Most policyholders are aware that frequent insurance claims will raise your premiums. However, many policyholders are unaware that simply asking your insurance company about making a claim can also raise rates – even if you never file a claim.
It’s true. In some cases, insurance inquiries can affect your insurance premiums moving forward. Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about the difference between an insurance inquiry and a claim, including whether or not your insurance inquiries will go on your report.
What is an Insurance Inquiry?
An insurance inquiry is exactly what it sounds like: when a policyholder asks his or her insurance company about making a claim, then this is called an inquiry. The policyholder is inquiring about whether or not to make a claim.
Sometimes, an inquiry can involve a simple question: you might call the 24/7 toll-free helpline at your insurance company to ask about a specific part of your policy.
In other cases, an inquiry can involve taking things a step further. You might begin filing a claim and then back out, for example. Or, your claim might be denied. Both of these situations may be recorded as inquiries.
You might assume that inquiries have no impact on your insurance history, or that they don’t go on your record. After all, you’re just contacting your insurance company to ask about making a claim – you’re not actually making the claim.
However, many insurance companies track insurance inquiries. These inquiries are stored in a database that all insurers can access.
Insurance Inquiry Info is Stored in Your CLUE Report
Insurance inquiries are recorded in your Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report. Insurance companies will request a copy of your CLUE report when building a policy. CLUE reports are used for home insurance, auto insurance, and other types of insurance policy applications.
CLUE reports, as you may expect, include insurance claims from your past seven years. Your insurance company uses this information to determine your risk as a policyholder. How many claims have you made in the past? How many claims are you likely to make in the future?
Your CLUE report also includes your name, birth date, the type of loss for each claim, and the amount paid by your insurance company. Each claim is accompanied with a description of the item that was insured.
However, many people are unaware that CLUE reports also include additional information, including insurance inquiries. Some insurance companies choose to include insurance inquiries in your CLUE report. If you have a long history of making numerous insurance inquiries, then it’s possible a future insurance company will use this information against you. You might be charged higher premiums because you have a history of making insurance inquiries.
Insurance Companies Record Inquiries in Different Ways
Some insurance companies record virtually every interaction you have with the company.
If you call your insurance company to ask about making a claim but fail to follow through on that claim, then the insurance company might record that inquiry, and it will be added to your CLUE report.
Some insurance companies only record an inquiry if your claim was denied. If you tried to make a claim but the insurance company denied your request, for example, then this might be recorded in your insurance history as an inquiry.
In some cases, CLUE reports fail to distinguish between inquiries and claims. You might have multiple “claims” on your CLUE report simply because you have called your insurance company to ask about your policy numerous times.
However, insurance companies process this information in different ways. Some insurance companies assign you with a claims number immediately after you call, for example, even if you fail to make a claim. Other insurance companies require you to take further action before making a claim.
You Might Lose a Claims-Free Discount Due to an Insurance Inquiry
You can find reports online of drivers losing a claims-free insurance discount after making an inquiry.
Let’s say you have driven safely for five years and have never made a claim. You’re reading your policy one day and discover an item that needs further clarification.
You contact your insurance company to ask about that item, then hang up. A few months later, you renew your policy and notice you’re paying more for car insurance because you lost your good driver discount. The insurance company assigned a claims number to your insurance inquiry, and that inquiry appeared as a claim on your record.
Typically, in this situation, you can contact your insurance company and request that the inquiry is removed from your record, in which case your claims-free discount should be restored.
Tell Your Insurance Company You’re Asking a Hypothetical Question
So you need to contact your insurance company, but you don’t want your call to be treated as an insurance inquiry or claim. How do you approach the conversation?
Some insurance experts recommend posing the question as a hypothetical. Contact your insurance company’s toll-free number and say you have a hypothetical question. Insist that you are not filing a claim. You may even want to record the phone call to ensure your insurance company cannot use the inquiry against you in the future. Assume your insurance company is recording all calls with you.
Talk to Your Insurance Company to Ensure Your Inquiries Aren’t Treated as Claims
If your car insurance premiums recently jumped for no apparent reason, then it’s possible your insurance inquiries are being treated as claims. Contact your insurance company today to clarify the matter. Sometimes, the insurance company failed to distinguish between a claim and an inquiry, leading to higher rates for you. Check your CLUE report as well to make sure you understand the difference between an insurance inquiry and an insurance claim.