Maybe you applied for car insurance recently, and to your surprise and dismay, you kept getting quotes that were much higher than you expected. Or, perhaps your car insurance premiums jumped dramatically, even though your driving record hasn’t changed.
Before you simply accept the higher quote or the premium rise, there are steps you can take to find out if the information used to determine those rates is accurate. (See also: How Insurers Decide Your Auto Insurance Rate and 6 Things That Spike Your Auto Insurance.)
Check These Key Reports
Driving and claims records are the two most critical factors insurance companies use to determine your insurance rates. Insurers check this information using two key sources – your state’s motor vehicle report (MVR) and the CLUE database operated by LexisNexis. If you believe you have a clean driving record and there is no reason for the jump in your car insurance premiums, you may want to look into both the MVR and the CLUE reports.
You can check your MVR through your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and make sure the information is accurate. Some states offer these reports for free, while others charge a minimal fee, such as $5 or $10. These reports include:
- Status of your driver’s license
- Traffic accidents
- Driving record points
- Traffic law violations, convictions and fines
- DUI public records
Another key report to review is your FACT Act Disclosure Report on the CLUE database, which will also help you determine if there is incorrect information being used by the insurance companies to determine your premiums. You can request a report online or by calling 866-312-8076. By law, you are entitled to one free report every 12 months, thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which also enables you to get one free copy of your credit report each year.
In addition to your personal information, this report will include:
- Details about the claims that insurers have paid on your behalf
- Details about claims insurers have denied and why they have been denied
- Reports from an agent or adjuster regarding inquiries you have made
Information remains on this report for seven years. Once you get a copy, review all claims reported. The key piece of information you need is whether any accident on your report was listed as “at fault” or “not at fault.” If an accident is reported as an “at fault” accident and you have proof that it was not your fault – such as a police report or other accident data collected by your insurance company – it’s critical to get that information corrected before applying for car insurance. If your car was involved in an accident, for example, but you were not the one driving, you need to make sure that fact is known by the companies to which you are applying for insurance.
Keep in mind that it can take 30 days to correct a CLUE report. If you need insurance immediately, you may be able to show proof to the insurance companies you have applied to, and an insurance agent can use that information to adjust a quote.
Discounts for a Clean Record
It’s a good idea to check your MVR and CLUE reports before you start applying for car insurance. That way you’ll know what the insurance companies will be seeing about you, and you can be prepared to address any potential problems. The reason it matters: You can get a number of discounts if you have a clean driving record:
- Good driver discounts – Auto insurance carriers offer a variety of discounts for good drivers. Some give incentives for every year you avoid an at-fault accident or moving violation. Others use safe driving records to give discounts – you may qualify for one, for example, after three or five consecutive years of safe driving.
- Claim free discounts – You can get a discount for not filing a claim. If you have a minor accident, especially if the cost for repairs is less than your deductible, think twice about filing a claim. The loss of the discount for several years may be more costly to you than the repair. (For more, see Will Filing an Insurance Claim Raise Your Rates?)
- Usage based discounts – Some insurers put a monitoring device on your car and reward you for safe driving habits.
- Defensive driving or safe driving training – Some companies offer a discount if you take a defensive driving or safe driving course. One of the most popular for people over age 50 is the AARP Driver Safety Course, which you can take online or in person. Once you have successfully completed it, you’ll receive a certificate to send to your insurance company to qualify for the safe driver discount.
The Bottom Line
Before you apply for car insurance, be sure to check your driving history in order to find out what the insurance companies will see on your record. That way you will be better prepared to defend your driving history and pull together information you might need to get a lower car insurance premium quote.