How to claim on your home insurance policy

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If your home is damaged or burgled it can cost thousands to put right. Fortunately, your home insurance could cover the cost. Here’s how to make a home insurance claim.

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If you need to claim your home insurance, you’ll want the process to go as smoothly as possible. That’s why it’s important to understand exactly how the process works, including what you can claim for, how long you have to make a claim and what information you need to provide.

What can you claim for?

This will depend on your home insurance policy, but in general, you should be able to claim for:

  • Damage caused by fire, floods or storms

  • Theft, including damage caused by break-ins

  • Subsidence

  • Accidental damage

Keep in mind that there are two parts to a home insurance policy: contents cover and buildings cover. What you can claim for will depend on whether you have buildings, contents or combined home insurance.

Here is what contents insurance covers

Here is what buildings insurance covers

How to make a claim

If you suffer loss or damage that is covered under your policy, you will need to take the following steps:

  • Report any crime: if you have been burgled, for example, you’ll need to contact the police before you make your claim and take a note of the incident number they give you - you’ll need to give this to your insurer.

  • Call your insurer: use the claims line on your policy documents. Most operate 24 hours a day. You will need your policy number when you call.

  • Tell your insurer about your claim: include as much information as possible, including 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 for you.

If it is an emergency and you need immediate repairs, your insurer should reimburse you the cost, but make sure you keep any receipts you receive for the work.

How long do you have to make a claim? 

Most insurers will give you up to 180 days to claim your home insurance. However, it’s best to get in touch with your insurer as soon as you can to get the ball rolling.

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, your insurer may ask for estimates from builders or tradesmen for the work that needs to be conducted.

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 needs repairing.

How long will your claim take?

This will depend on your claim, but most insurers will try to sort it as quickly as possible. The more complicated the claim, the longer it will take.

A straightforward claim could be settled within a week, but a subsidence claim could take over a year, for example.

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 involved 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 that your insurance premiums will increase. If you choose to pay a higher excess, it could make your cover cheaper, but it’s important to be sure that your excess is still affordable.

Most insurers set an excess of around £200, but you may 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.

Should you make a claim?

Before claiming on your home insurance, you should consider the cost of your excess and the fact that your home insurance premium is likely to increase when you renew it because you’ve made a claim.

If your claim is only for a small amount, or the claim amount is similar to the cost of your excess, you may be better off paying for the costs out of your own pocket and leaving your no-claims record intact.

How will your claim be settled?

Depending on what you are claiming for, your insurer may:

  • Arrange for one of its partnered builders to conduct 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?

To reduce the risk of your claim being rejected, it’s important to check your policy documents carefully for any exclusions. If you are not sure, your insurer should be able to tell you when you call.

However, if you think your claim has been wrongly declined, you can also make an official complaint.

Look out for exclusions

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 make a claim to cover the cost.

This guide outlines all the exclusions of a buildings insurance policy, and here are the exclusions of contents cover.

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.

Protect your home and belongings for less by comparing home insurance policies to cover a range of property types and individual circumstances.

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