SEATTLE - The home-buying season is here
and many people are viewing potential new homes. However, Homeonwers
Insurers encourage buyers to take a cautious approach when evaluating
houses. Without knowing a home's claims history, buyers could
get stuck living in a money pit instead of a dream home.
If you're in the market for a new home,
NW Insurance Council encourages
you to obtain a Loss History Report on a home before making an
offer. Loss History Reports gives
potential buyers the ability to review up to five-years of a home's
claims history and verify if any prior damage was repaired correctly.
"New tools have become available in recent
years that help a prospective homebuyer evaluate the condition
of a home and the likelihood of burglary or vandalism in the neighborhood,"
said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president.
"Some new homeowners who were unaware
of these tools have been left with structural problems, substantially
higher insurance rates or have had difficulty finding coverage
because of past claims filed by previous owners," he added.
Checking a home's claims history is similar
to examining a car's Vehicle History Report from CarFax, AutoCheck
or ConsumerGuide, and allows you to make a well-informed purchasing
How can you find out the history of a
home before you buy? Ask the seller to provide you with the Loss
History Report. This report gives you a five-year claims history
of the home. If the current homeowner filed a claim in the past
five years, including claims for water-damage,
fire or theft, the Loss History Report will show it.
If you're considering buying a new home,
NW Insurance Council offers the following facts and tips to help
you examine a home's claims history:
- Loss History Reports are a powerful tool for both buyers and
sellers. Buyers can request a Loss History Report from the seller
as part of the real estate transaction. The reports can identify
potential problems for the buyer's inspector to investigate.
- A Loss History Report is simply a record of past claims.
- 70 to 80 percent of homes have clean Loss History Reports.
- There are two types of Loss History Reports available to homeowners:
- Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, developed by
ChoicePoint, Inc., Atlanta, Ga. (now owned by LexisNexis).
This report is a five-year history of claims filed by all
past and current owners of the property.
- Automobile-Property Loss Underwriting System, developed
by Insurance Services Office (ISO). The A-PLUS report is
a history of the current owner's claims up to five years.
If the seller has owned the home for less than five years,
the report will not include claims filed by past owners.
- Both reports include a five-year loss history for homes and
- Homeowners, insurance companies and insurance agents have
access to Loss History Reports.
- A homebuyer cannot access a Loss History Report until a real
estate contract is signed, due to the "permissible access" rules
of the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The seller
can obtain loss History Reports for less than $15.
Reports are available online or by mail at (888) 497-0011
- A-PLUS reports are available at no cost for the first report.
Call (800) 709-8842.
- Consumers adversely affected by their Loss History Reports
can get free copies of their reports from CLUE or A-PLUS.
For more information on homeowners insurance
and Loss History Reports, visit NW
Insurance Council or call (800) 664-4942.
NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit,
public-education organization funded by member insurance companies
serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.