How to make a home insurance claim

If you’ve had a property-related incident, like a break-in, burst pipe or subsidence, you’ll more than likely need to make a claim on your home insurance. Here’s how to go about it.

If you’ve had a property-related incident, like a break-in, burst pipe or subsidence, you’ll more than likely need to make a claim on your home insurance. Here’s how to go about it.

Chris King
Home insurance expert
5
minute read
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Posted 10 JANUARY 2020 Last Updated 29 MARCH 2022

How do I make an insurance claim?

Claiming on home insurance is something we’d all rather avoid. But if your home has been damaged or you’ve had something precious stolen in a burglary, your insurance provider’s there to help. Here’s a step-by-step guide to make claiming that bit easier.

Step 1: If there’s been a crime, report it

If you’ve had a theft, or your home or belongings have been vandalised, report it to the police. They’ll give you a crime reference number, which you’ll need to provide when you claim on your home insurance. 

If it’s an emergency, call 999. For everything else, it’s 101.

Even if you think it’s unlikely the police will ever catch the criminal, your insurance claim won’t be valid without a crime reference number, so make sure you give them a call.

Step 2: Have your documents at the ready

Keep your insurance documents somewhere safe and within easy reach, along with photos and receipts for any high-value items. It will make claiming a whole lot simpler.

If you’re claiming for valuable items, such as jewellery, tech or furniture, photos that show them in their original condition can be a real help. Serial numbers for gadgets, like cameras and laptops, can also be useful. If you don’t have receipts or photos, you may be able to find proof of purchase on your credit or debit card statements. 

Step 3: Check you’re covered

Make sure your policy covers what you want to claim for. Most home insurance policies won’t cover damage caused by pets or wear and tear, for instance. So it’s worth checking what’s included before you start the claims process. If in doubt, contact your insurance provider.

Step 4: Hang on to damaged items

Insurance providers often want to see evidence of what’s happened. So don’t redecorate or throw away damaged items before your provider has had a chance to assess the situation.  

In any claim, taking photos or videos of the immediate aftermath can help smooth the process.

Step 5: Contact your insurance provider

Do this as soon as possible, particularly if you’re making a large claim – for a flood or house fire, for example. Most insurance providers have a 24-hour helpline, so you can get the ball rolling straight away. You’ll find the number on their website or your policy paperwork. Many providers will also now let you register your claim online.

Give your provider as much information as you can about the incident. They’ll then let you know if you’re covered and explain what documents you’ll need to support your claim.

Step 6: Talk to a loss assessor

If your home needs extensive repair work because of a fire, flood or burst pipe, for example, your provider will most likely send a loss adjuster to assess the damage and organise the work on your behalf. In some cases, you might want to appoint your own loss assessor to represent your interests and negotiate with the insurance provider’s loss adjuster.

Will my home insurance premium go up if I make a claim? 

Your home insurance premium is likely to go up if you make a claim. That’s because your insurance provider will view you as a higher risk, compared with someone who’s never claimed on their policy. 

If your premium does go up at renewal time, you can use it as an opportunity to shop around for a better deal with a different provider.

 

Is it worth making an insurance claim?

That depends. If you’ve suffered large losses, your insurance is there to help you recoup the costs. But if it’s a relatively minor incident, it might be less worthwhile. Your premium will go up if you make a claim – although you won’t know by how much. And you’ll lose any no claims discount you’ve built up.

Your excess – the amount you pay towards a claim – also comes into it. If you have a large excess, you’ll have to pay most of the cost of a small claim yourself. So you’ll need to balance the small pay-out you’ll receive against the cost of your premium going up and losing any no-claims discount. 

If you decide not to make a claim, you still might need to tell your insurance provider about your losses – check your policy documents to see if this is the case.

How long will my insurance claim take to process?

This depends on the nature of the claim and how complicated it is. Many claims are processed within a few days, but a particularly complex case – for example, one involving major damage to the structure of your home – could take many months. 

Contents insurance claims tend to be more straightforward. Whatever your situation, your insurance provider should keep you in the loop, from start to finish.

How can I get a good deal on my home insurance?

We can help you compare policies from a range of UK home insurance providers in minutes. See if you can get a great deal today.

Frequently asked questions

How long do I have to make a claim on my home insurance?

Insurance providers usually allow up to 180 days to make a claim, although this isn’t the case for all providers, so check your policy documents. It’s best to get started as soon as you can, otherwise there’s a risk that you’ll forget important details that could help your claim.

Can I make a home insurance claim without proof of purchase?

Some providers specify that to make a claim on your contents insurance, you must provide receipts (or photos of receipts) for any items that have been stolen or damaged. Alternatively, if you haven’t kept your receipts, you can usually claim if you have some other proof of purchase, such as your bank or credit card statement.

How can I reduce the chances of my home insurance claim being rejected?

Firstly, check your policy details so you don’t claim for something you’re not covered for. Another good tip is to keep receipts whenever you buy expensive items. If any of your belongings are later stolen or damaged, you may be asked to provide evidence of when you bought them and for how much. It’s also important to keep your home in a good state of repair. Claims are often turned down because properties haven’t been well maintained. 

How do I complain about a home insurance claim?

If you’re unhappy with the outcome of your claim, or you feel your home insurance provider has treated you unfairly, you’re entitled to make a complaint. Go through your provider’s official complaints procedure first to give them a chance to put things right. If you’re still not satisfied, you can take your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

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