How to make a claim on your home insurance
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.
Looking for home insurance?
Home insurance claims are one of the most likely types of insurance claims to be rejected. According to figures from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), 23% of home insurance claims are rejected. By contrast, 99% of car insurance claims are successful.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has previously found that the most common reasons for failed home insurance claims were:
Wear and tear or damage caused by a lack of maintenance which was not insurable
The claim value being below the policy excess
The claimant had the wrong cover in place
Taking out the correct level of buildings insurance and contents insurance will improve the chances of a successful home insurance claim. Understanding how this process works, and how to submit a claim, will only bolster your case.
How do I claim on my home insurance?
Home insurance is designed to cover you in the event your house is burgled or damaged by something like a fire, flood or storm.
If you’ve been burgled, you should always call the police first. Not only will they have to come and investigate as soon as possible, they will also issue you with a crime reference number that you’ll need before you can proceed with a home insurance claim.
After you have this reference number, or if your claim relates to some other kind of damage, the first step of a home insurance claim is to dig out your policy documents and booklet. It's worth keeping these in a handy place and remembering where you put them. These days they will often be sent to you digitally, so store them somewhere on your computer.
Within these documents you’ll find the two things you need to kick off your claim:
a claims helpline phone number
your personal policy number
When should I get in touch with my insurer?
Don’t delay. Once you’ve found your policy number, call the designated helpline and speak to an adviser. If it's an expensive premium rate number, such as those beginning 0870 or 0845, don't be afraid to ask them to call you straight back.
Explain what has happened and the adviser will be able to help you progress with your claim. It’s worth doing some preparation and jotting down a few notes about what has happened. It’s easy to forget something crucial in the heat of the moment.
What evidence will I need to make a claim?
For small and standard home insurance claims, you’ll need to fill out the required claims form. This is usually available to download from your insurer’s website, and you should return it within the stated maximum number of days – the sooner the better.
If you are claiming for lost or damaged possessions, you’ll need to enclose receipts as proof of purchase for the items you are claiming for. If you can't lay your hands on the receipts, try digging out credit or debit card statements as these can prove the purchases instead. If you don't have copies of these, call your bank or credit card provider and ask to be sent the relevant months' statements. This can also be done online.
You should also take photographs of any damages and submit them as they can be used to support your claim. Report any losses or theft to any relevant property databases.
The golden rule is that the more documentary evidence you can produce, the smoother and quicker your home insurance claim will be. Make sure not to throw away any damaged items, as an insurer may send someone round to look at them.
What happens after I start my claim?
If the home insurance claim is for a larger amount, your insurer is likely to inspect further by sending an investigator (or loss adjuster) to your home. They will confirm the loss or damage you state in your claim and assess how much it would cost to replace or repair.
So long as you have filled out your home insurance application form honestly and accurately, taken out a policy robust enough for your claim, and haven’t invalidated your home cover, you shouldn’t encounter any problems.
The insurer will then organise and send its own partner company or companies to carry out repairs and works where necessary, or pay you the amount you are claiming for into your bank account or by cheque through the post.
How long do home insurance claims take?
Every insurance claim is different and the more complicated the claim, the longer it will take to complete.
If it’s straightforward and a relatively small claim then it could be wrapped up in as little as 48 hours. But if it’s for extensive damage that has caused structural flaws to your home then a full assessment will be needed and it will take longer. It’s possible for a claim to take several months to complete.
What’s my home insurance claims excess?
The excess is the amount you need to pay towards any claim. There will always be a compulsory excess to pay and you can choose to add a voluntary excess to your policy. This will mean you pay a cheaper premium.
Is it always worth making a home insurance claim?
For smaller claims you should consider this question carefully. Although home insurance is there for you to claim on when you need to, it may sometimes make more sense to pay for repairs or replacements yourself.
If you have a high excess, for example, then it may not be worth it. Making a claim could mean that the cost of your policy will increase when you come to renew, and you will lose any no-claims discount you may have. So if your excess makes up the majority of your claim it’s unlikely to be worth it, as you might end up paying more in the long run.
However, home insurance is there to protect you, so don’t be deterred from making a claim where needed.
And when it comes to your annual renewal, don’t forget to always shop around for a better value deal with a different insurer.
Will making a claim increase my premium?
It might do, but this is not set in stone. Generally speaking, people who have made a claim are more likely to make another, so insurers will see you as a slightly riskier customer.
That being said, minor incidents, such as lost or damaged possessions, are less likely to lead to a jump in your premiums than a burglary or severe damage to the building’s structure.
If your renewal quote does increase then you don’t have to accept it. Use it as an additional incentive to shop around for a better deal rather than just renewing with your current insurer.
Can an insurer refuse my claim?
Yes, but they will need to provide a valid reason why they are turning down your claim, which you can check against the terms and conditions of the policy.
If you think they are being unfair, you should try to negotiate with them. If no agreement can be made, they’ll have a complaints procedure you can follow.
How do I complain about my home insurance claim?
If your claim has been turned down and you haven’t been able to negotiate a satisfactory outcome, then you should first go through the company’s complaints process – which should be stated on their website.
If there is still no resolution, you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), an independent body which will assess the merits of your case.
Before you do this, you must have received either a ‘final response’ from your insurance company or eight weeks should have passed with no communication from them.
The FOS will then look at both sides of the claim and attempt to find a fair outcome.
If they decide in your favour, the FOS has the power to make the insurance company explain their actions, apologise and pay compensation.
How can I stop my insurance claim being turned down?
It starts with making sure you understand the terms of the home insurance policy when you sign up.
While the cheapest cover is often the most tempting, check the terms and conditions to make sure the policy covers you for your needs.
You also need to take reasonable steps to protect your home. If, for example, you leave your doors unlocked and windows wide open and are burgled, then an insurer might use that as a reason to reject your claim. Here are some things you can do to protect your home:
Close windows and lock doors before you go out
Activate your burglar alarm when out, especially if you’ve told your insurer you have one
Don’t leave valuable items such as lawn mowers unattended and on show in the garden
Don’t leave valuable items like laptops on show where potential burglars can see them through a window
Tell your insurer if you have builders on site in case they damage anything
Report thefts within 24 hours, and make sure you have a crime number if anything does happen
Not doing any of the above does not automatically mean your claim will be rejected, but it will help your case if you have taken every precaution.
When it comes to claiming, be clear and honest in your communication and provide as much supporting evidence as possible. This should include photographs and receipts of purchased items.
How can I claim for a water leak?
Water leaks are a common source of damage to homes but luckily most insurers cover “escape of water” as standard.
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.
If you spot a leak, immediately turn off your stopcock, then contact your insurer through their 24-hour helpline.
They may arrange for a loss adjuster to assess the damage and in extreme cases could arrange alternative accommodation for you.
The loss adjuster will give you an initial assessment and provide a timetable of what needs to be done, who will do it and how long it will take.
Compare home insurance
Comparing home insurance quotes with MoneySuperMarket is a quick and easy way to find affordable cover for your building and contents. Just tell us a little about yourself, your home and who’ll be living there, and we’ll search the market for a list of quotes tailored to your needs.
You’ll be able to compare deals by the overall annual and monthly cost, the cover you’ll get and the excess you’ll need to pay to make a claim. Once you find the deal you want, just click through to the provider to finalise your purchase.
This article is intended for information purposes only. We are unable to give financial advice or recommendations but hope you find this article useful.
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