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Can a Phone Call to Company Hotline Raise My Insurance Rate?

A query may be considered making a claim

In subsequent weeks, watch for a letter from your insurer. And get a copy of your CLUE (comprehensive loss underwriting exchange) report. Available for free once a year to consumers, it comes from an industry-wide database that details home and auto insurance claims listed under your name over the past seven years.

If your call was interpreted as a claim, you should see a notation of that on your report.

If your premium rises or you suspect it might, first write a letter to your insurer, detailing the specifics of your call, This should include the questions asked — to whom, when and why — and the answers received, and how you expect the company to correct your record.

Mail copies to the rep with whom you spoke and the company's homeowner claims office, and copy your state's insurance commissioner and the Better Business Bureau. You may also be able to file an online complaint with your insurance commissioner.

Follow up until the company does what you want. Don't assume it will automatically happen.

Two final tips:

  • Because insurers use the CLUE report to decide whether to issue you a policy and set your rate, it's a good idea to look at it whenever you're shopping for new homeowners or auto insurance — or just wondering what insurers say about you.
  • It's generally good to pay for smaller repairs yourself, because any claim, especially on homeowners insurance, might result in higher premiums or a refusal to renew your policy.

You may also like: Ballooning car insurance costs. >>

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.

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