If you ever find yourself needing to make a claim on your contents insurance as part of your home insurance, it’s helpful to understand everything involved in the process. Read on to find out the steps involved when making a claim, and some potential pitfalls to avoid.
What does claiming on my insurance mean?
When you’re claiming on your insurance, you’re formally requesting that your insurer pays out for something covered by your policy. In this case, you’re asking that your insurer pays out compensation for an incident involving your contents insurance - this could be damages to your possessions, theft, or another type of accident.
How do I make a claim on my contents insurance?
If you need to make a claim, you should dig out your policy documents, which will probably have been emailed to you when you signed up, or sent to you in the post. You need to find two key pieces of information – the claims helpline number (which you can also find online) and your personal policy number.
If you’ve been burgled, your first step should be to call the police. They’ll provide you with a crime reference number, and you can refer to this when raising the claim with your insurer.
Once you’ve found these details, get in touch with your insurer as soon as possible – ideally within 24 hours, to avoid any issues or delays. You’ll then need to fill out a claims form, which is usually downloadable, but they’ll tell you how to find this on the phone, and it will normally need completing in a set amount of time.
What evidence will I need to make a claim?
You’ll need to provide details about the situation, including the type of incident that has occurred (theft, damages, etc) and the items that you’re claiming for.
If possible, try to collect receipts for any items being covered in your insurance - particularly those of higher value. Insurers will often ask for receipts as proof of purchase, although sometimes may also accept bank transactions as proof. It’s always a good idea to file receipts away somewhere when you purchase large items.
It can also be a good idea to take photos of any high-value items, and store these with your receipts – for example, bikes, laptops or jewellery. Especially if you are a student and purchased student contents insurance, where theft is slightly more common than average.
And if damage has been caused to any insured items (through fire, flooding, or accidents) try to take photographs of the damage too, and send these to your insurer.
The more documentation you can supply about your insured items, the better!
What happens after I start a claim?
If you’re making a large claim, your insurer may send out an investigator (also known as a loss adjuster) to assess the situation. They’ll evaluate the situation and damages in detail to calculate repair and replacement costs.
As long as you’ve taken out a policy that’s extensive enough to cover your damages, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. The insurer will organise for any necessary repairs to be carried out, or they’ll directly pay out the amount you’re claiming for.
How long do I have to report an incident?
Most insurers have their own rules here, but in general, you should report any incidents or accidents within 24 hours. If you miss the deadline for reporting an incident, your claim could be invalid, so make sure you contact your insurer ASAP!
How much will my contents insurance go up after a claim?
It’s difficult to estimate the amount your contents insurance costs will increase by, as it all depends on the situation. Minor incidents (like lost items or damaged possessions) aren’t likely to send your premiums through the roof – but larger incidents (like structural damage or a burglary) could lead to a jump in your future premiums.
However, if your insurance costs do increase significantly due to a claim, you can use this as an opportunity to shop around when it comes to renewing your quote. This is generally best practice anyway, as it’s always worth checking with other providers to try and get a better deal.
Is it always worth making a claim?
Depending on the circumstances, you might not always want to make a claim on your contents insurance. For example, if minor incidents occur (where paying your excess fee would cost more than repairs/replacements) you might want to cover the costs yourself.
This can help to avoid your premiums increasing, as you haven’t made a claim, and also means you can maintain any no-claims bonuses, if there are any with your insurance provider that is.
However, your contents insurance is there to cover you if the worst happens, so don’t hesitate to make a claim if it feels appropriate.
How long does a claim take to settle?
Every situation is different, so there isn’t a set timeline for your claim to be resolved. Some cases will be more complicated than others, e.g. those with structural damages and multiple higher value items, which will generally take longer to settle too. This is because the insurer will need to send out investigators, and potentially organise for surveyors/builders to get involved in repairs.
However, for more straightforward claims, your claim could be processed and resolved in as little as 48 hours.
How to avoid your claim being rejected
If you have a good understanding of your insurance policy and what’s covered, and you’ve been providing your insurer with accurate and honest information, you shouldn’t find any issues with processing your claim.
Ensuring you can supply your insurer with proper documentation (receipts, bank statements, photographs) will also help you to avoid any unnecessary delays when claiming.
However, there are some things you can do to avoid incidents or issues occurring in the first place:
- Keeping windows and doors locked whenever you’re out of the property
- Activating a burglar alarm while you’re out
- Not leaving valuable items unattended or easily visible
- Letting your insurer know if you have building work going on, just in case anything is damaged
- Reporting incidents quickly, and immediately contacting police if theft occurs
What if I can’t resolve the claim with my insurer?
If any issues arise with your insurer during the claims process, search for their complaints procedures online and follow the steps. This should be your first port of call, and hopefully you’ll be able to resolve the complaint with them directly!
However, if you’re still struggling to find a resolution with your insurer and you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall, you can always contact the Financial Ombudsman.
This is a neutral financial service, and they aim to settle disputes fairly between businesses and consumers. However, it can take up to 5 months for the Financial Ombudsman to process and begin working on your case, so it’s definitely not a resolution.
That’s all there is to it
If you ever need to make a claim on your contents insurance, remember the golden rule – documentation is key!
The more evidence you can supply (photographs, receipts, bank statements) the smoother the process is likely to be. Get in touch with your insurer as quickly as possible after the incident, and you’ll be in the best position to make a successful claim.