Claiming on home cover: Getting it right

Claiming on home cover is a vital part of actually taking out insurance that protects your property and possessions in the first place.iStock_000015427495XSmall

You get what you pay for

Some people buy the cheapest cover they can find without thinking about the consequences of having to make a claim with a company which quite possibly has poor customer service and a terrible claims record.

Others may pay through the nose for cover, but find the level of service they receive on claiming is second to none and the claim process itself a bit of a breeze.

Generally speaking, in the insurance world the more you pay the better the policy, although of course this isn’t always the case.

Claiming is why you’re paying

But whichever insurer provides your home cover, the claim steps you take once something has happened are vital in making sure you get what you pay your premiums for in the first place.

Here are the key things you should do to get the claims ball rolling and prevent problems from occurring along the way:

Burglaries, loss of valuables or malicious damage

A great number of home insurance claims result from someone’s home being burgled, something of value being lost or malicious damage by a third party to possessions or property.

Burglary or malicious damage involve a criminal act and so the first thing you need to do is inform the police and also obtain a crime reference number to give to your insurer. No crime reference number means no claim!

If you’ve lost something of value, you still need a crime number, and will also be expected to have taken reasonable steps to retrieve the lost item or items.

Contact your insurer

Get in touch with your insurer as soon as possible to outline the reasons for a claim and start the process. Don’t leave it too long as nearly all policies set a time limit for how long you have to get in touch with the insurer after the claim incident has occurred.

Fill out and return the forms

Once you’ve explained to your insurer why you’re claiming you’ll either have to download and print off claim forms, or they’ll be sent to you in the post. Again, you have a set amount of time to fill these in and return them before a claim becomes invalid.

Proof of ownership and incident

Usually some sort of proof is required that what’s being claimed for actually happened, although insurers accept this isn’t possible with all claims.

In most cases, the more evidence you provide the better. Photographs, written testimony by witnesses, receipts, valuations and other documentary evidence of ownership and incidents all help.

Contact with claims assessors

Depending on the size of a claim, or reason for it, an insurer may send a claims assessor, or loss adjustor, to see you.

This could be to assess damage and repair costs, collect evidence and speak to experts ‘on-site’, or simply look you in the eye to discuss the validity of a claim; whatever the reason, be clear about what you’re claiming for, the compensation you want and the situation behind the claim. Don’t forget, honest is truly the best policy!

Insurer’s report and payment

The insurer will then assess all the information provided, as well as any they themselves have gathered. This could occur as quickly as within a few days, or may take weeks or even months with more complicated claims.

Once the insurer has reached a decision, they may arrange any necessary repair or building work to be carried out, or provide the finance for you to arrange this. In the case of a contents claim, it’s usually a cash payment that you receive, but could also be a replacement item or items.

Resolving disagreements

If you disagree with the insurer’s decision, you should let them know immediately that it’s not acceptable to you in writing, stating why and how you want them to put things right.

If the insurer stands by their position, you can take your case to the Financial Ombudsman. Don’t be afraid to do so; it costs you nothing and insurers aren’t always right!

Don’t be shocked by the ‘excess’

In nearly all insurance claims, the insurer will deduct the ‘excess’ before meeting the claim. The ‘excess’ is the first part of a claim which the insured is expected to cover. For most ordinary claims this would typically be in the region of £150 to £250.

The excess is usually clearly stipulated when you first take out cover, and can often be changed in agreement with the insurer; generally speaking, increasing the excess means you pay less in premiums as the financial ‘risk’ to the insurance provider is lowered.

Policy Expert

As an online insurance broker, Policy Expert help our customers to compare insurance products and find a policy that’s right for them. Customer care is at the heart of everything we do and we have a dedicated customer service team on hand by phone, email, twitter and instant chat. For more information on Home Insurance from Policy Expert, speak to one of our experts on 0330 0600 600 or email ask@policyexpert.co.uk

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1 1/5 Its when you claim their true colours become clear
My garage was broken in to and I had a lot of power tools stolen , the garage was locked with a three point locking system up and over door. It appears the lock was forced with another key. When I tried to make a claim I was told because there was no "Forced and voilent" entry I couldn't claim on my insurance. Reading my policy document this isnt true ...it can be either forced OR voilent , it was an attempt to stop my claim. I've made a compalint on their email facility but have no aknowledgement they have recieved my complaint. Warning if a theif uses a lock picking tool to get in your house they will refuse to pay up ...this could cost you thousands. Its when you actually need your policy you can truely make comment on thier services. I've been treated like a fraudster by the very people who should protect me from such instances.
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2 2/5 avoid if you can
I have tried to contact Policy Expert regarding Home Emergency Insurance cover been on the phone for a while then decided to use their calling back system been waiting for hours still waiting,also failed to respond to my law firm regarding legal expenses cover for car accident.
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The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.