Does making a claim really raise your insurance premiums?

For many, the answer is a no-brainer: “Whenever I’ve been in an auto accident or suffer destruction to my house or car.”
Unfortunately, the decision about whether or not to file a claim is rarely so simple. In some cases, filing a claim could cause some insurance companies to increase your rates.
In other instances, the choice to file a claim could place your name into a database which makes it nearly impossible to find or maintain coverage down the road.
Insurance is there to give you peace of mind and to restore a car, after a collision, to its original state.
“The whole idea of insurance coverage is to make good on a loan, to make individuals whole again,” says Claire Wilkinson, vice president of global issues for the New York-based Ins. Information Institute, an organization dedicated to improving public understanding of insurance.
However, prior to you making another claim, be certain to know how it could go back to haunt you.
Database danger
Many people fear that filing insurance claims will cause them to be “blackballed” by insurance companies, resulting in higher premiums, loss of coverage and difficulties obtaining new insurance.  Unfortunately, in some cases they might be right.  The vast majority of consumer insurance claims are recorded in one or both of two databases: CLUE and A-PLUS.
The larger and better-known database — CLUE, which stands for Claim Loss Underwriting Exchange — is operated by the Georgia-based ChoicePoint.  A-PLUS, which stands for Automated Property Loss Underwriting System, is the other database. It is run by New Jersey-based Insurance Services Offices, Inc.
ChoicePoint’s CLUE is so popular that people in the insurance industry often refer to reports generated by either database as “CLUE reports.”  “More than 98 percent of insurers writing automobile and homeowners coverage provide loss data to the CLUE databases,” says Fiona McCaul, corporate communications manager of ChoicePoint.  CLUE reports include “policy information such as name, address and policy number, and claim information such as date of loss, type of loss and amounts paid.