Claiming on home insurance is often a straightforward process, especially with smaller claims. However, if a claim is larger and more complicated, you’re going to need to put in a fair amount of effort in to be certain it turns out in the way you hope.
insurances naturally want to ensure a claim is fair and that the claimant has met the policy requirements. Depending on the nature of the claim this can be anything from meeting the minimum required standard of home maintenance to not being unduly careless with possessions when inside or away from the home.
When a claim involves larger sums, the insurer usually sends out a loss adjustor to make an assessment, so following procedures and getting together as much evidence as possible in support of a claim is crucial.
What to do, and what not to do
- Check your insurance policy carefully before making a claim – This will help you avoid unnecessary disappointment and effort if you’re not actually covered for whatever has gone wrong. Check exclusions, claim limits and your excess level particularly carefully.
- Contact your insurer as soon as possible – You should contact your insurer as soon as you possibly can after an incident has occurred. There are deadlines in most home cover policies for how long you have before a claim becomes void and can’t be made.
- Have all your details to hand – Try and get together all the home insurance documentation you have when you contact your insurer, it will help avoid unnecessary delays and misunderstandings.
- Take photographs – Photographs can provide some of the most powerful evidence in support of a claim. Whether you’ve had something stolen, or part (or maybe all!) of your home damaged, take plenty of photographs. And if you can also get your hands on photographs from before the incident, if relevant, it will give the insurer a clear comparison.
- Keep receipts – If you have any emergency work done which can’t be avoided without first contacting your insurer, make sure you keep the receipts and invoices. Likewise, if you have items valued, keep the valuations in a safe place as they can act as both proof of ownership and a good reference for replacement value.
- Be clear and don’t embellish – It might be tempting to embellish on what actually happened in the hope of strengthening your claim, and while you might not be lying as such, it would impact negatively on your claim if the insurer felt you were deliberately pushing for more than you’re perhaps due.
- Contact the police if it’s a crime – If you’ve been robbed, or had your property damaged by malicious behaviour, you should contact the police immediately (again, delaying could negatively impact on a claim). You’ll be given a crime reference number which you need as part of any claim you subsequently make.
- Accept a claim settlement if you’re not happy with it – Contact your insurer and ask how they arrived at the settlement. If you’re not happy with the outcome, write to the insurer and explain why you’re not happy with the offer, and what you want them to do. If they don’t make you a new offer, you should take it to the financial ombudsman.
- Organise non-emergency repairs without checking with your insurer – If you organise repairs which couldn’t be considered ‘emergency’ in nature without first consulting with the insurer and getting their agreement, you risk invalidating any claim (e.g. a big hole in a supporting wall would be an ‘emergency’, but a hole in a ceiling might not be).
- Dispose of damaged goods before the insurer has seen them and agreed it – It might be tempting to start clearing up and throwing away spoiled items as soon as you can, but these will probably form part of a claim, and an insurer needs to see the items first. Keep them somewhere safe until your insurer confirms you’re ok to throw them away.
- Claim for small sums which spoil your no claims bonus – Some claims just aren’t worth making if they ruin your no claims bonus, or no claims discount as it is also called (this builds up over a number of years if you don’t make a claim). A claim might be for, say, £200, but this may be less than the no claims bonus is worth.
- Claim for small sums which are less than your excess – It’s common sense really, but there’s no point making a claim if it’s for the same or less than the excess you have to pay (the ‘excess’ being the first part of any claim that the insured has to pay).