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Home insurance claims guide

How to make a claim on your home insurance

David McDermottroe
Written by  David McDermottroe
5 min read
Updated: 27 Mar 2024

With almost a quarter of home insurance claims rejected every year, it’s important that you get the correct level of cover for your home – and understand how to make a successful claim.

Introduction to home insurance claims

Home insurance is a safety net for homeowners, providing peace of mind in the event of unexpected damage or loss. Yet, the journey from policy purchase to claim payout is not always a smooth one.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) reports a significant gap in the success rates of different insurance claims: while an impressive 99% of car insurance claims are successful, a concerning 23% of home insurance claims are rejected.

This discrepancy highlights the necessity for policyholders to fully grasp their home insurance coverage and the intricacies of the claims process.

Man in cafe

Why home insurance claims fail

The reasons behind the failure of home insurance claims are varied. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) identifies several common pitfalls. For instance, wear and tear or damage resulting from poor maintenance are frequent causes for claim dismissal.

Another hurdle is the Policy Excess: some claims fall short because the damage cost is less than the policy excess, leaving the policyholder to foot the bill. Moreover, a mismatch between the incident and the coverage can lead to a claim's rejection.

Maximising your chances of a successful claim

To enhance the odds of claim approval, it's paramount to have Adequate Coverage. This means selecting the right amount of buildings insurance and contents insurance to fully protect your property and belongings.

Additionally, a thorough understanding of the claims process is crucial to sidestep procedural missteps that could result in a denied claim.

The claims process: step by step

When the unexpected strikes, knowing the steps to file a claim can make all the difference:

  1. Immediate Action: Obtain a police crime reference number if necessary, and document the incident meticulously

  2. Contact Your Insurer: Promptly inform your insurer, providing all the relevant details of the incident

  3. Documentation: Collect evidence such as receipts, photographs, and any other pertinent information

  4. Claims Form: Fill out the claims form with accuracy and care

  5. Insurer's Investigation: Be prepared for the insurer to conduct their own investigation, which may include sending an assessor to evaluate the claim

Understanding the time frame and excess

The time it takes to process a claim can vary widely, from a few days to several months, depending on the complexity of the situation. Being aware of your policy's excess is also crucial, as it can influence whether it's financially sensible to pursue a claim.

To claim or not to claim?

Before filing a claim, consider the cost of the excess and the potential for premium increases against the cost of the damage. In cases of minor damage, it might be more economical to handle the repairs yourself to prevent future hikes in insurance rates.

Dealing with claim rejection

Even with careful planning, an insurer may still refuse a claim. They must provide a valid reason based on the terms of your policy. If you disagree with their decision, you can negotiate or follow the insurer's complaints procedure.

If the issue remains unresolved, you can escalate the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), but before you do this, you must have received either a ‘final response’ from your insurance company or waited eight weeks with no communication from them.

Preventing claim rejection

To avoid claim rejection, it's essential to:

  • Thoroughly understand your policy's terms and conditions

  • Take reasonable steps to secure your home and safeguard your property

Claiming for specific scenarios

In the case of water leaks, which are typically covered by home insurance, immediate action is crucial. Act quickly upon noticing the leak and inform your insurer.

However, you should still take the correct precautions, so you are not deemed to be at fault if a water leak occurs. Our guide to home insurance for a burst pipe and water damage explains more.

Shopping for home insurance

When your annual renewal comes around, don't simply settle for the first quote from your current provider. It's always wise to shop around for a better value deal with a different insurer.

Using MoneySuperMarket to compare home insurance quotes is a quick and straightforward way to find affordable coverage for your home and possessions.

Our expert says:

"Unfortunately, home insurance claims are all too often turned down – perhaps because the claimant has failed to take out the right level of cover or hasn’t taken steps to protect their property. Take the time to read the terms and conditions of your policy in detail and take reasonable steps like locking your doors when you go out, and you should be safe in the knowledge that you are covered." - Sam Meadows, Journalist

Understanding your policy, ensuring you have adequate coverage, and being proactive in protecting your home are the keystones to a successful home insurance claim.

With the right knowledge and preparation, you can confidently navigate the tricky waters of home insurance claims.

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