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Over-60s 'fear' making insurance claims

New research shows that older people frequently fail to claim on their home insurance policies due to fears costs will rise in future. 

Toy house, piggybank and keys

A fifth of over-60s admit they have not claimed on their contents or buildings insurance despite being eligible to do so.

This is most commonly because they were concerned a claim could lead to higher home insurance costs in the future.

This is according to new research from Age UK Enterprises, the charity's commercial arm.

Concern over price hikes

Gordon Morris is managing director of Age UK Enterprises.

He says: "It is concerning that so many older consumers, often on a fixed income, are missing out on money they may be entitled to because they think that their claim might not be successful or that their premiums will increase."

Many also said that they failed to claim as they were worried it would be rejected or that the size of the claim was too small to justify the effort involved.

Morris adds that more needs to be done to make the claims process less daunting.

"Industry and providers should open clear lines of communication and support to ensure customers feel empowered to make a claim or act when necessary," he says.

Over-60s £693 out of pocket

Pocket money

Home insurance analyst Matthew Bolton says that's own figures back up the Age UK research.

"Almost one-fifth of people who ran a home insurance quote on in 2013 were aged 60 or older, Bolton explains.

"Among this group, 0.5% have stated that they could have previously made a home insurance claim but didn't.

"While this 0.5% figure is consistent across all age ranges, the average cost of these unmade claims for those aged over 60 is far higher than other ages - £693 versus £443 for those between 17 and 59.

Bolton says: "This suggests two things: one, that the older demographic are more financially stable and thus more willing to pay for their repairs and replacements themselves. 

"Or, alternatively, as Age UK has suggested, they are afraid of claiming or don't want to face future premium rises."

How to decide whether to claim

When your home is damaged or something is stolen, for example, there are a number of factors to weigh up when deciding if it is worth claiming on insurance Bolton explains.

"The first thing is the cost of the repair or replacement in relation to your policy excess - the amount you have to contribute before your policy pays out," he says.

If the cost of repairing or replacing an item is less than your policy excess, then you may not want to make a claim.

Similarly, if you have built up a healthy no-claims discount on your home insurance policy, you have to decide whether it is worth risking this by making a claim at all. 

Home insurance and smaller claims

With smaller claims, it may be wise to pay to repair the damage yourself, rather than lose your discount. Otherwise you could pay much more for insurance in future years. 

However, it's worth bearing in mind that typically, home insurance isn't like car insurance - where the cost of a claim can see costs shoot up by hundreds of pounds.

To get an idea of how a claim may affect future premiums, we ran an example home insurance quote for a couple in their fifties living in Weymouth, Dorset, who had suffered a fire causing £2,500 of damage in 2010.

If they had claimed on their home insurance at the time, their cost of cover today with many providers was the same price or only a few pounds a year more than if no claim had been made.

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Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris

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