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How to make a home insurance claim

Looking to make a new home insurance claim?

A normal sized British house

Some claims could be wrapped up within 48 hours while others might take far longer. Especially if it’s a complicated buildings claim.

 

When should I contact my home insurer?

Before you hit the home insurance claims line, have a quick think.

Do I really need to claim? We don’t want to hold you back but some claims – modest breakages, for example – might be too small to bother with.

Or if they could hit your home insurance excessThis could see your premium rise the following year – which isn’t what most of us want.

If your home security or livableness is in a bad way, let your insurer know immediately.

Especially if another party’s involved or there’s a risk of further damage.

On the flip side, if you make a buildings insurance claim your insurer might expect your property to be reliably maintained. So if a roof’s badly weathered and there’s storm damage your claim might be rejected.

With those caveats out of the way, most insurers work hard to make policies clear.

Check your home insurance documents or the company’s website to find the claims phone number.

Before you get on the phone to your insurer it’s a good idea to:

  • Make a list of what you feel are the most important facts. In the stress of the moment it’s easy to forget stuff like time and weather details. Or even if there’s police (or not) involved.
  • Get your policy documents and any receipts organised. If you’ve lost the paper copy of your policy, you should be able to check it online in the ‘your account’ section.
  • Resist the temptation to get any repairs done until your insurer agrees. In a genuine emergency hang onto all receipts. If you’re concerned about losing any, snap them with your phone for a digital copy.
  • Take pictures, that back your claim. A short video might also be helpful.

Include details wherever you can. This might include serial numbers of possessions – cameras or computers, for example – as well as proof of receipts and any dates of purchase.

The Association of British Insurers’ (ABI) says that 82% of domestic property claims were accepted in 2018-2019 (latest figures).

 

How long do home insurance claims take?

It might vary depending on the compliexity of the claim and the company dealing with it.

The 2020-2021 pandemic also stamped on the brakes in terms of policy claims, in some cases. 

Because of the sheer range of claim complexities there’s no agreed time period or guarantee to settle claims.

But most insurers don’t want a stressful claims process and should attempt to turn around claims smartly.

Some buildings insurance cases are complex.

If there’s water or fire damage – or anything that could make your home less safe – then some insurance claims could take several months.

If the claim is potentially big then a loss adjuster might be involved.

If you’re claiming on your contents insurance it tends to be simpler.

A claims team might write, email or phone you promptly after you’ve got in touch and take things from there.

They should also confirm what excess is involved.

Ultimately, short claim times save an insurer money. And reputable insurers should uphold a genuine claim.

So it’s in their interests and yours to behave promptly and fairly with your claim.

 

Do I need evidence to support my home insurance claim?

Yes you do. What you’ll typically need is:

  • Receipts for any valuables that have been stolen or damaged
  • Any credit card or bank statements that support your purchase history of these valuables
  • Photos of any damage caused or photos of your belongings.

 

Do I need evidence to support my home insurance claim?

Yes you do.

What you’ll typically need is:

• Receipts for any valuables that have been stolen or damaged
• Any credit card or bank statements that support your purchase history of these valuables
• Photos of any damage caused or photos of your belongings. 

If you’ve CCTV footage of the incident, make sure the data is safe and reliable.

Don’t forget any photos that might support your claim too.

For example these might be on online property databases such as Immobilise, NMPR, Report My Loss and CheckMEND. 

Recording your items this way means there’s a permanent record the police could check against. Some registers are free to use.

 

What's covered in my home insurance policy?

There are two types of insurance here – buildings and contents cover.

Some insurers sell all-encompassing cover for both your building and your contents.

It’s up to you whether you feel this is better value, or not.

It’s worth shopping around to find a policy that suits you.

Some might find a combined policy is less expensive and more convenient than separate policies. Others might not.

A good contents policy protects you from theft and damage to most of your valuables.

It’s a smart idea to work out precisely how much contents protection you might need. You can do this by using our contents calculator.  

All our claim circumstances vary but they usually include protection from:

Fire, lighting, flooding and storms not to mention explosions and theft
If your fridge or freezer breaks down you should be covered for spoiled or contaminated food
The theft of any cash (though watch for limits or any small print exclusions!).

There may be legal liability protection attached should a friend or visitor be injured and you’re might fault.

It’s sensible to list high-value items individually. Typically these are watches, cameras, jewellery and perhaps even sports equipment over £1,000 in value. 

Don’t forget musical instruments and bikes. A valued musical instrument, for example, might need an agreed valuation. 

Pricey electric bicycled, in particular, are getting popular – and are quite prone to theft without good security!

So go careful here. You could look to getting bicycle insurance for these items.

A good buildings policy should cover the building itself, roof, walls and windows and other permanent fixtures of your home including the bathroom and kitchen. 

The cost of cover should usually include damage from:

Fire, smoke and explosions
Flood and natural disasters including storms
Fallen trees, lamp posts, aerials or satellite dishes 
Vandalism and malicious damage 
Subsidence 
Vehicle and aircraft collisions.

But we’d add that accidental damage to your home – for example, fire damage from accidentally leaving a kitchen gas hob on – might be optional. It depends on the policy. 

Some buildings insurance policies might give garages and outbuildings protection as well. 

Compare home insurance quotes

 

Can I pay to repair any damage myself? 

It depends. In a genuine home emergency you might not have any choice but to shell out for emergency help straight away.

However, try and talk to your insurer beforehand. Almost all insurers have a 24/7 claims helpline. 

A home emergency is usually something that’s thought as:

Bad for your health
Risks damaging your home
Compromises your home's security. 

You might also have home emergency cover bolted to your buildings policy already. If you’re not sure, check. Such cover might cover the cost of burst pipes, pest infestation or blocked drains.

Be careful - there could be some policy overlap here.

For example, a burst pipe situation might be covered by your home contents policy. It’s worth checking your policy T&Cs.


How can I help speed up my insurance claim?

Preparation is key – make sure you have all relevant information and evidence to hand whenever you deal with your home insurance company.

If you’ve moved recently or changed your mobile number or email address, do let them know.

It could help the claims process to have reliable personal details in place.


Is it worth claiming on my house insurance?

That depends on the size of the claim. When we make an insurance claim it’s often a numbers game.

Is the item or building issue high, medium or lower value? Might claiming now make claims in the future claims more expensive? 

Is a claim, in other words, justified?

Keep in mind that your no-claims discount could be impacted when you make a claim.

And your home insurance excess might be deducted from any payout you make.

So, for small-value claims, it could be better for your wallet to pay the cost of repairs or replacement yourself.

But don’t forget that home insurance is there to act as a safeguard for when you need it. 


How do I complain about my home insurance provider?

When you’ve had a stressful experience you don’t want the insurance claim to be equally hard going. 

However there might be a number of scenarios or disagreements that you feel haven’t been sorted out.

For example:

Your insurer might say they’ll repair an item when you think it should be replaced.
Or an insurer could say you didn’t tell them the full replacement cost of your home contents. Or even the full rebuild cost of your home – and the policy has been cancelled. 
You’ve been offered a settlement deal but it’s not enough to cover or replace the damaged goods.

If you have a despite, talk about it with your insurer first. Ask them how they reached their decision.

Give them a chance to put things right. If you’re still unhappy you could complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). 

You’ll need to get in touch with the FOS inside six months of getting your insurer’s final response to your complaint.

But it’s a free service and the FOS should talk to both parties before coming back to you with a response. 

Their free-to-call helpline is 0800 023 4567. Or you can make your complaint online at the FOS website.