What can you claim for?
This will depend on what policy you have, but you should be able to claim for:
Damage caused by fire, flooding or storms
Theft, including damage caused by break ins
There are two parts to a home insurance policy; contents and buildings cover.
What you can claim for will depend on whether you have buildings, contents or combined home insurance.
How to make a claim
If you suffer loss or damage that is covered under your policy, you should:
Report any crime to the police before you make your claim and take a note of the incident number they give you, for example if you have been burgled.
Call your insurer on their claims line, which will be on your policy document. Most operate 24 hours a day, and you will need your policy number to hand.
Tell them about your claim, including as much information as possible and details of any damage or loss.
Some insurers will then send you a claims form to complete and return to them with any supporting documents they ask for before your claim can be processed.
If your home has been damaged and needs repairs, contact your insurer before arranging any work so they can agree to it.
If it is an emergency and you need immediate repairs, they should reimburse you the cost, but make sure you keep any receipts you receive for the work.
What evidence will you need to provide?
You may be asked to provide receipts as proof of purchase for any items you are claiming for. For example, if you have been burgled and need to claim to replace your stolen TV.
If you do not have your receipts you might be able to use:
Credit or debit card statements that show the purchase
Photographs showing the item in your home
Take photographs of any damage you have suffered to support your claim. This can also help your insurer work out how much any repairs should cost.
If you have suffered building damage they may ask for estimates from builders or tradesmen for the work that needs to be carried out.
If the damage is extensive your insurer may send a loss adjuster to your home to assess the damage and work out how much the claim is worth and what repairs are needed.
This will depend on your claim, but most insurers will try and sort it as quickly as possible. The more complicated the claim, the longer it will take.
A straight forward claim could be settled within a week, but a subsidence claim for example could take over a year.
The sooner you make your claim and submit all the necessary documents the faster your claim will be handled. Ask your insurer about the timescales when you make your claim.
Do you have to pay an excess?
Yes, most insurers will set a policy excess that you have to pay towards any claim.
You may be able to change the value of the excess, but a lower amount will mean you are charged a higher premium. If you choose to pay a higher excess when you claim it could make your cover cheaper.
Most will set an excess of around £200, but you might be able to choose to pay as little as £50.
Some claims will come with a higher compulsory excess that you cannot change, for example:
Subsidence claims can come with an excess of £1,000
Escape of water claims can come with an excess of £350
This is because these claims can be expensive, so your insurer charges you more to reduce the amount they have to pay out.
How will your claim be settled?
Depending on what you are claiming for, your insurer may:
Arrange for one of their partnered builders to carry out the necessary repairs to your property and cover the cost, less the excess
Send you a lump sum to cover the cost of the claim, less the excess, to your bank account or by cheque
What if your claim is declined?
Look out for exclusions
Check the policy documents carefully before you make a claim to make sure you are covered. If you are not sure, your insurer should be able to tell you when you call.
Here are some of the common exclusions that could mean your claim is rejected:
Your home has been left empty: If your home has been unoccupied for 30 days or more, your claim may be rejected. Here is how to insure an unoccupied home.
Wear and tear: Most home insurance policies will not cover damage to your buildings or contents caused by gradual wear and tear over time. For example, paint erosion on outside walls.
Deliberate damage: If you, or anyone living in your home, causes any damage to your building or contents on purpose you will not be able to claim to cover the cost.
Make a complaint
If you feel your claim has been rejected unfairly you should make a complaint to your insurance company.
You can find out how to make a home insurance complaint in this guide.