Home insurance claims: How do they work?

Find out how to make a successful home insurance claim, and learn how you can prevent claims from even happening.

Updated

Home insurance can be vital, protecting you from potentially losing hundreds of thousands of pounds were your home to be seriously damaged or destroyed.

Contents insurance can be a lifesaver too. You can get possessions replaced or repaired should they be stolen or accidentally damaged or lost.

The purpose of this guide is to clarify the home insurance claims process. We’ll walk you through the various steps you’ll have to take, so you can make sure your claim is quick and successful.

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What can home insurance cover me for?

There are three main types of home insurance you can get in the UK: home insurance, contents insurance or combined home and contents insurance.

Below we look at what sort of protection you can expect from each policy type plus explain how each policy will cover you should you need to make a claim.

Policy type and what it coversPolicy compensation methods
  • Buildings insurance. This type of policy will protect the physical structure of your property should it be damaged or destroyed. This will include the plumbing and wiring.
  • Bedroom rated cover. The insurer will calculate the cost of rebuilding your home based on the number of bedrooms in the property.
  • Sum insured cover. You calculate the cost of rebuilding your home yourself. Unless you’re clued up in construction, it might be an idea to use a chartered surveyor.
  • Contents insurance. You are protected financially for any loss, theft or damage of your possessions in your home, such as a bicycles, white goods, gadgets and laptops, bedding etc.
  • Bedroom rated. The insurer will calculate your contents cover based on the number of bedrooms on your property.
  • Sum insured cover. You have to work out the amount of contents cover you require.
  • Unlimited sum insured. There is no limit on your contents insurance coverage.
  • Home and contents insurance. This is the most common form of insurance, and it protects both your property and the contents inside.
  • Select whichever compensation best suits your needs. Bedroom rated cover might work for some, but for others it could prove costly.

How does the home insurance claims process work?

When you take out home insurance, your insurer essentially promises to help you out financially should your home be damaged, destroyed or broken into.

When you put in a claim, you are making your provider live up to its promise. And so long as you’ve honoured the terms of your agreement, it should come to your aid.

  • Step 1. Get in touch with your insurer either online or by giving the company a call. You need to do this as soon as reasonably possible.
  • Step 2. Download a claim form from your company’s website or contact your provider and ask for one. Fill it out and wait for a claim number.
  • Step 3. The insurer will send a representative to your property to assess the damage, arrange any emergency repairs if necessary and obtain job quotes from their network of builders and repairers.
  • Step 4. After your provider has analysed the details, it will either approve or deny your claim.
  • Step 5. Depending on your claim, the insurer will compensate you or a tradesman or repairer that’s approved by your builder will contact you, requesting to start work on your property as quickly as possible.
  • Step 6. When the job is complete, the insurer will pay the builder or repairer and you will be free to move back into your home.

Why is taking stock of my possessions so important?

Getting an accurate evaluation of your home and contents will ensure you’re not left out of pocket should anything bad happen.

When it comes to your contents insurance cover, you need to get protection for all your possessions. One way to think about it is this: get cover for anything you would take with you when moving home.

It might seem like a lot of effort, but the best way of estimating what level of cover you need is to go around every room of your home. Make a note of every possession and mark down an approximate cost.

The following are some other tips:

  • Keep your receipts and any other proof-of-purchase statements or documents.
  • Snap some photos of your items. These can serve to prove your ownership.
  • You might consider getting pricier items such as jewellery or any paintings professionally appraised, if you aren’t sure of the value of your items.
  • Certain items, like antiques, can become more valuable as time ticks on. It’s a good idea to get them reevaluated every couple of years.
  • Keep an up-to-date list of your items, both old and new. Snap photos and try to keep an accurate price list.

Are there any practical measures I can take to avoid home insurance claims?

Even if you have home insurance, you’ll want to avoid having to make a claim. Here are some tips to help you stay claim free on your policy.

How to prevent causes of common home insurance claims

  • Fire
    It’s a good idea to regularly test your fire and smoke alarms. It’s also a good idea to buy a fire extinguisher for your home.
  • Theft
    It goes without saying you should keep your doors and windows locked when you leave your property. Don’t leave your spare keys in easy to find places like under your mat. You could install a burglar alarm or buy a CCTV camera to deter criminals too.
  • Liability
    Fill in any cracks or holes you have in your garden or on your land. Make sure any paths or stairs are well lit. And if you have any lay equipment such as a trampoline, make sure it’s kept in a good condition.
  • Burst pipes
    Get an expert in every so often to check your plumbing, he or she can advise you whether you need to replace any worn or damaged pipes.
  • Glass breakage
    Installing shutters is one way you can prevent a burglar or vandal breaking a window. You could also use laminated glass.
  • Appliance malfunction
    Keep an eye on appliances like fridges and freezers. If they feel like they’re overheating or failing to keep your food cold, replace or repair them quickly.
  • Extreme weather events
    Prepare your home for floods and storms. Keep your roof in a good condition and make sure any gutters are clear.

Final things to keep in mind

Here are some final tips to help you get the best cover possible and to ensure your claims are successful and dealt with quickly:

  • Consider installing CCTV as well as burglar and smoke alarms that are approved by your provider.
  • Live in an area that’s prone to flooding? Make sure your cover will protect you for such events.
  • Making claims will only hike your insurance premium prices, so try to pay for small issues yourself and avoid making a claim.
  • If you’re leaving your home unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days, make sure your insurance will protect you. It might void your policy.
  • Speed is of the essence. File your claims as soon as reasonably possible. If there’s any further damage that’s caused by you delaying, you might not be covered.
  • Make sure your insurer approves of any repairs before you get them done, failing to do so might void your policy.
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