What Is an Experience Letter for Insurance?

Experience Letters for Insurance Explained

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DEFINITION

An experience letter is written by an insurance company that has covered you in the past. The letter details your record with them.

Definition and Examples of an Experience Letter

Sometimes insurance providers may not want to cover you. This is often true if you haven't had insurance for a while, or if your background includes factors that make you a risk to insure. An experience letter is a way to prove that you're a safe risk.

A letter of experience will contain all the information an insurance company needs to set the cost of your plan. Each insurance company has its own way of creating these letters. But some common information is included in most of these letters.

The letter should include details of what type of coverage you had. It will state the address of the "risk" covered if you insured a home. It may state the vehicle and serial number if you're looking for car insurance. It will also list everyone who was covered under the plan. This includes the owner of the property or car, or the person who held the health plan through their job. It may also include other people, such as when a car insurance plan covers more than one driver.

The letter would also detail when you had coverage, such as effective dates and end dates. It may explain why your policy ended. The information may appear here if your policy was canceled for nonpayment or if you owe money for your premiums. It will include any lapses in coverage.

Any claims paid during the time of insurance will be listed. The letter will also provide details about the cause of the claim. It will state how much was paid.

If you've never had any claims, it should state, "There were no claims paid during the period." It should list who was responsible for each claim if there were claims for more than one person. You can request separate letters for each person.

  • Alternate names: letter of experience, letter of claims experience, proof of prior insurance

How Experience Letters Work

Think of an experience letter as a letter of recommendation from an insurance company. This is your former insurer's way of vouching for you. It's often sent to insurance companies that don't know you.

Having a letter of experience that shows a strong history of coverage can provide you with insurance discounts. This is especially true if you don't have many or any claims. It can also help you get insurance if you are having trouble finding someone willing to cover you.

Tip

All you have to do to get a letter of experience is ask your insurance company. Don't worry if you haven't been insured for a couple of years. You can still call your last insurance company and ask for one.

An insurance company will look at many factors to come up with the price of your plan when it sets your yearly premium. These factors include personal information like risk issues or your insurance credit score.

The company will also consider your insurance history, which shows how long you've been insured and how many claims you've made. Insurance history is where experience letters come into play.

This process is often done by a program called the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE). Insurance companies report your history to CLUE. They'll request your CLUE report when you sign up with a new insurance company, which allows them to check your information.

Do I Need an Experience Letter?

You probably won't need a letter of experience if you've always been insured in recent years. An insurance company will ask for one if it needs a letter of experience. Common reasons for this include:

  • You've moved to another country.
  • You've lacked insurance for a few years.
  • The insurer wants to prove or dispute claims on record.
  • You've never been the primary person insured. This might be the case with teens, college students, or people who are divorced and used to be on a spouse's plan.

You can also choose to provide an experience letter if you're having trouble getting insured. This may sway the company in your favor.

If a home policy included an additional named insured in special clauses, you may request a letter of experience for that individual as well.

The more insurance history you have, the less of a risk you are in the eyes of insurance companies. That's why things like having renters insurance before you buy your first home insurance plan can save you money.

It will also result in lower costs if you can prove a history of being insured, especially if you can prove that you haven't made many claims.

Multiple small claims can make underwriters nervous about insuring you, but seeing that you had no claims will often get you a discount.

Note

Not all insurance companies require an experience letter. Ask your company if a letter of claims experience or insurance history would help if you're not sure.

When an Experience Letter Won't Help

It can't change what's included in your letter, even if you take all the right steps and request your letter of experience. And it doesn't mean that you'll always get cheaper coverage. Each insurance company has a system for setting its prices, so your letter of experience may or may not give you the discount you were expecting.

Your letter might show 18 months of good standing, but your new insurance company might only give a claims-free discount after three years. You'll still have to wait a year and a half to get that discount in this case.

Many factors can impact insurance company prices. Sometimes subtle things can have a big impact on the price you pay. It's best to shop around. Contact customer service to find the best plan and price for you.

Key Takeaways

  • An experience letter is written by an insurance company that has insured you in the past. It's much like a letter of recommendation.
  • You often won't need a letter of experience if you've always been insured in recent years, at least unless an insurance company asks for it.
  • Experience letters contain all the information an insurance company needs to set your premiums.
  • The way in which your insurance company sets prices means that the information in your letter may or may not give you the discount you were hoping for.

Article Sources

  1. Farmers Insurance. "Auto Insurance 101," Question 8.

  2. Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner. "CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange)."