We all buy home insurance in the hope that we’ll never actually have to make a claim. But if you do need to claim against your policy, there are a number of steps that you can take to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.
1. Know what you’re covered for
It sounds obvious, but many people don’t readily know what cover they have. Don’t wait until you need to claim, review your policy regularly and know what your excess is – depending on the value of the item you’re claiming for, it might not be worth claiming at all. If you’ve bought a new gadget, piece of jewellery, or carried out home improvements, check that your cover is adequate.
2. Be prepared
Receipts are the holy grail of the home insurance world, so keep hold of as many as you can, particularly for valuable items. However, if you don’t have the receipt, take photographs of your items – they’ll provide essential evidence of ownership should you make a claim.
3. If a crime has been committed, notify the police first
Victims of crime such as burglary or theft, must contact the police to report the incident before contacting their insurer. The police will provide a crime number and you’ll need this before your insurer can proceed with your claim.
4. Contact your home insurer as soon as possible
Once you’ve established if you’re covered, call your insurer as soon as possible to report the loss or damage.
5. Don’t carry out any repairs without speaking to your insurer…
Many insurers appoint preferred providers to make any necessary repairs. If you carry out your own repairs without first consulting your insurer, they may decline to compensate you.
6. …except in an emergency
Sometimes, it may not be possible to contact your insurers before carrying out any repairs. Your insurer should still reimburse you – but take photographic evidence or, at the very least, detailed notes of what happened and why you took the action you did, along with any invoices and receipts from the tradespeople you used.
7. Provide evidence of the loss or damage
Receipts are ideal as proof of ownership, but if you can’t find them consider what other evidence you can provide – bank statements, photographs, etc. Let your insurer know if it’s going to take you a while to collate all the evidence – they will probably want you to return the completed claim form as quickly as possible, but may give you more time to send through your evidence.
If you’re making a claim for damage, keep hold of the item. If it’s contaminated, dangerous or impossible to store, then take photographs.
8. Don’t be surprised if your insurer uses a loss adjustor
Larger claims often result in the insurer appointing a loss adjustor to visit you and confirm the loss/damage and to advise what repairs may be needed. If for any reason you’re not happy with your insurer’s loss adjustor, or you just want a second opinion, you have the right to appoint your own.
9. Use your broker
If you bought your home insurance through a broker, ask for their help to guide you through the claims process – that’s what they’re there for.
10. If you’re not satisfied, complain
If, for whatever reason, you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your claim, write to your insurer setting out why you are unhappy. If you do not agree with their final response, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service who will look into your complaint free of charge.