UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Melanie MussonUPDATED: Mar 13, 2020Fact Checked

If you want to find out if a car has a history of accidents or damage, one way to get this information is to find the previous insurance claims filed on the vehicle. This information may be very useful if you are trying to negotiate a price on a used vehicle; if you want to get the best price, it helps to know if the car has suffered any serious damage under prior owners. In fact, you might even decide you do not want a car after you find out about its history of accidents or damage. You may also be interested in seeing your own insurance record before you file a claim or apply for insurance with another company. You can find previous insurance claims in one of several ways.

All car insurance claims are recorded in a national database known as the CLUE™ files

CLUE™ is administered by ChoicePoint Asset Company and is a registered trademark of that company. The CLUE™ database is an exchange system used by all insurance companies to share information about homeowner and automobile insurance claims.

The purpose of the CLUE™ database is primarily to allow insurance companies to exchange information so that if you apply for coverage with another company that insurer will know about your claims history. Insurance companies use the CLUE™ database regularly, but you can also obtain your own CLUE™ report by contacting LexisNexis service through their phone or email contact information found on their website, personalreports.lexisnexis.com. You are entitled to one free CLUE™ report every 12 months, so you can check on your own CLUE™ report yearly if you choose.

What is a Carfax® report?

Of course, you do not always want to know about your own record. Sometimes, you want to know if insurance claims have been filed on a car you are interested in buying. The best way to find this information is to get a report such as those offered by Carfax®. A Carfax® report gives you a variety of information, including accidents which have been reported about the car and repairs performed.

Where do I find specific information about a car insurance claim?

If you require specific information about the type of insurance claims previously filed on the car, the information may be a bit harder to obtain. In order to know the specifics about claims, you must identify the previous owner or owners of the car and the insurance companies that covered the car during that ownership period. This information is not always easy to find, but it is possible with a bit of work.

You can start with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles by requesting the name of the previous owner of the vehicle, using the VIN, or vehicle identification number, to narrow your search. For a small fee, you can request a copy of the title transfer in which the previous owner sold the car. If you bought the car in a private sale, you will already have this information.

Once you have found the previous owner’s name, you can contact your state’s Department of Insurance to find out information on the car owner’s insurance coverage for the car. You will be able to identify one or more companies which carried insurance on the vehicle, and you can contact these companies for a copy of all claims filed on that particular vehicle. Be sure that your request is limited only to claims filed on the car in question, as the owner may have had more than one vehicle insured with the company.

In order to avoid this complicated scenario, you can pay someone else to search for this information. Carfax® is one company that will provide a wide variety of information about specific cars for a fee. You can get a general report, including previous damage information which may lead you to specific insurance claims, for $34.99 for a single car or $49.99 for up to five cars.

Your reasons for wanting the insurance history of your car will determine the method you use to get this information. If you need insurance claim information to determine if the car has been wrecked because you have discovered a problem after purchase, it is best to let a professional lawyer handle the search for information, as you may need to compile it for legal purposes. On the other hand, if you simply want to know the history of the car to determine how much to pay for it, or if you want to know the insurance history to value the vehicle for resale, a very general method will probably be sufficient.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. Through her years working in th...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson