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How to make a home insurance claim – a step by step guide

If you need to make a claim on your home insurance you’ll want the process to be as swift and as painless as possible. Here’s how to ensure you take the right steps and file your claim correctly to increase the chances of a successful pay-out.

how to make a home insurance claim guide
how to make a home insurance claim guide

When should you call your home insurer?

Before even thinking about submitting a home insurance claim, you need to deal with the emergency itself – whether that’s extinguishing a fire or calling out a plumber to stop a water leak. 

As soon as this has been dealt with, you can call your insurer to start the claims process. Most insurers will give you 180 days to file a claim, but it’s best to start as early as you can. Insurers usually have a 24-hour helpline, so you don’t need to worry about the time of day.

Before any major repair work can be carried out, your insurer will need to assess the damage and agree to pay for the work. But don’t worry if certain emergency repairs have already been completed – insurers are usually understanding and should agree to refund the relevant costs. 

What to do when you need to make a claim

When you’re ready to make a home insurance claim, follow the process below:

1. Report any crime to the police

If your home has been burgled, it’s important to phone the police as soon as possible. The police will give you a crime reference number and you’ll need to pass this on to your insurer.

2. Check the details of your home insurance policy

Before calling your insurer, check exactly what is and isn’t covered by your home insurance policy, as well as any claims limits and your excess amount. Also make sure you have your policy number to hand.

3. Call your insurer

Next, give your home insurance provider a call to explain exactly what has happened and what has been damaged. It’s important to provide as many details about the incident as possible.  

4. Gather evidence

Take photos of any damaged items or structures. Don’t be tempted to throw anything away until your claim has been processed and paid as your insurer may need to see these items. 

You may also need to submit estimates for repairs from approved builders, as well as the receipts of any emergency repair work that has already been carried out. 

If high-value items have been damaged or stolen you may need to submit receipts for these too. It’s a good idea to keep these receipts somewhere safe, but if you are unable to find them, you may be able to use bank or credit card statements as proof of purchase.

Alternatively, any photographs you have of the items may suffice. For large claims with extensive damage, your insurer may want to send out a loss adjuster to assess the property and see what repairs are required. 

5. Consider a loss assessor

If you want to have someone working with you on the claim – particularly if your claim is substantial – you may want to consider appointing a loss assessor. Loss assessors are claims specialists who work on behalf of the policyholder and can help you collect evidence. 

Will a claim increase your premium?

Making a claim on your home insurance is likely to push up the cost at renewal, but how much of an increase you’ll see will depend on the type of claim. 

If your claim was relatively minor – to replace the locks on your front door, for example – you’re unlikely to see a huge spike in premiums. 

But if your claim was more serious – for burglary or flooding, say – premium increases will be more significant. Always shop around at renewal time to ensure you’re getting the best deal and never simply accept your insurer’s renewal price. 

Will you pay an excess?

All home insurance claims require you to pay an excess. This is a fixed amount you must pay towards the cost of any home insurance claim, and it’s divided into two parts – compulsory and voluntary. The compulsory excess is an amount set by your insurer, while the voluntary excess can be chosen by you. A higher voluntary excess will lower your premiums, but always make sure it is still affordable. 

You’ll need to pay both excesses when you make a claim. Let’s say, for example, your compulsory excess is £50, and your voluntary excess is £150. If you made a claim for £800, you’d pay your voluntary excess of £150 upfront, and the £50 compulsory excess would be automatically deducted from your £800 claim amount. This means you’d receive £600 in total.

Be aware that different excesses can apply to certain types of claims. Subsidence claims, for example, often come with excesses of around £1,000 as claim amounts are typically very high.  

Is it worth making a claim on home insurance?

Before making a home insurance claim it’s worth weighing up the cost of the excess you’ll pay plus any likely rise in premiums. If you’ve built up a substantial no claims discount, remember that making a claim puts this at risk too. 

You may therefore find that for smaller claims it makes better financial sense to simply pay for the repairs yourself. This also applies if your excess and claim amount are similar – for example, if you are claiming for £400 but your excess is £350.

What can you claim for on home insurance?

Depending on your policy you can usually claim for: 

  • Loss or damage to your property or belongings caused by storms, fire, or flooding
  • Loss or damage caused by theft or vandalism
  • Damage caused by subsidence and heave (when the ground rises)

If your policy includes it, you can also claim for accidental damage – such as smashing your TV screen.

Why might a claim be refused?

According to a report by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), only 79% of home insurance claims are successful, compared to 99% of car insurance claims. 

There are many reasons why a claim could be rejected, including:

  • Inadequate cover: for example, claiming for accidental damage when it is not covered as standard.
  • Wear and tear: most insurers won’t pay out if you have not adequately maintained your property and damage can be attributed to general wear and tear.  
  • When the claim value is lower than the excess: if the amount you’re claiming for is lower than your excess, you won’t receive a pay-out. 
  • Providing incorrect information: if you were not honest on your policy application form about previous claims or you’ve not provided correct information about your current claim, it could be rejected.
  • Claiming too late: many insurers will give you up to 180 days after the incident to make a claim. If you leave it longer than this, your insurer may not pay out.  

To avoid having your claim rejected, always check the terms and conditions of your policy carefully to make sure you’re covered. Be honest when filing your claim, make sure you do so on time, and provide as much detail as possible. 

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