After paying home insurance premiums for many years, there can be little more financially galling than having a claim rejected by your insurer.
Unfortunately, however, this is exactly what a good number people experience every year. Consumer watchdog Which? recently found that one in ten home cover claims are either completely rejected or only partially accepted.
There are numerous reasons a claim might be rejected; from poor home maintenance to the wrong information being given on application.
Understanding some of the more common problems insurers come across when assessing home insurance claims can help you avoid making the same mistakes, and potentially being financially out of pocket if you do have to claim.
How do some people invalidate their Home Insurance?
- A poorly maintained home – From old, cracked roof tiles to a boiler that hasn’t been serviced, don’t give your insurer an excuse to blame ‘poor home maintenance’ for your claim.
- Inaccurately described homes – You need to make sure you accurately describe the ‘type’ of home you have; the age, construction materials, number of bedrooms, any extension work etc.
- Security failure – If someone walks into your home and steals everything because you left your front door wide-open, a claim will probably be rejected. Likewise, the same would happen if you say you have an alarm, but fail to turn it on.
- Non-functioning smoke alarms – Again, if you say you have smoke alarms they must work, otherwise a claim for fire damage could be rejected.
- Wrongly described locks on windows and doors – This is a very common issue. If you don’t know what types of locks you have, you need to check as insurers base your premiums and ‘risk’, to a large degree, on security related to locks.
- Inaccurate flood plain and river description – If your home is on a flood plain, or near a river that floods, but you haven’t told your insurer, a claim for flooding could be rejected.
- Empty properties – If you go away for long periods, perhaps to a holiday home for more than a month at a time, you need to tell your insurer.
- Incorrect levels of cover – It’s your responsibility, not your insurers, to check the level of cover for the building you own and your possessions is correct.
- Mistakes on application – From County Court Judgements (CCJs) to any previous claims, you need to tell the truth to your insurer on application otherwise it could invalidate your cover.
- Non-specifying of items – Items which are particularly valuable, or in fact delicate and easily breakable, need specifying to your insurer. They might exceed claim limits and will impact on your ‘risk profile’.
- Claim delay – Don’t delay in making a claim, if you do you could find the time limit set for a claim to be instigated (usually between 2 and 6 weeks after an incident) has lapsed.
- Exclusions – Policies contain exclusions which many of those insured aren’t aware of. You might not be able to claim for possessions while they’re with you outside of your home, or damage by pets might not be covered, for example. Check the small print and increase your cover if you think you need to.
- Tree and bush damage – You might not be aware that damage, such as subsidence, caused by the roots of trees and bushes within a certain distance of your home is often not covered. Again, you need to indicate the position of trees and larger bushes to your insurer.