Can you really claim on your home insurance?

Harvey Jones

With storms and floods now regularly sweeping the UK, household insurance is more important than ever. Worryingly, insurers reject one in five home insurance claims, against just one in 100 for motor insurance. How can you make sure your insurer will pay out?

The true cost of home insurance 

The average domestic flood damage claim costs an astonishing £50,000, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), well beyond most people's pockets. This makes the average household insurance premium of £290 a year look relatively good value.

But if you are paying that sum every year you need to be certain that you can make a valid claim on your policy if disaster strikes.

The average non-flood payout is for £2,520, so a rejected claim can be a real blow.

 

Read the rules

Sometimes claims are rejected because people misunderstand what insurance is for: it isn't there to cover everyday wear and tear, for example. You also have a duty of care to maintain your property. So if you fail to repair a leaking gutter, your insurer may reject a subsequent claim for water damage.

Most household insurance policies will only pay for accidental damage if you bought this cover as an add-on extra, so decide whether you need this.

 

Stake your claim

With a little effort, you can boost your chances of making a successful household insurance claim. One way is to buy a decent level of home buildings and contents cover from a reputable insurer, rather than simply opting for the cheapest you can find on a comparison site.

  • Make sure it covers all the things that are important to you with an excess you can afford.
  • Take time to read the small print and check whether you have to buy add-ons such as accidental damage or bicycle cover.
  • You may also have to upgrade your policy if you want to insure items away from home, by adding optional “personal possessions” cover. 
  • Don’t underestimate the value of your possessions, and remember to increase your cover if you make expensive new purchases.
  • Expensive electronics, jewellery or antiques may exceed your policy's single item limit, which may be as low as £1,500. So inform your insurers of any valuables and be prepared to pay a little extra to cover them.
  • Keep receipts or valuations to prove ownership in the event of a claim.

 

Small print, big trouble

Check whether you have the correct door and window locks as specified in your policy, otherwise it may refuse to pay out after a break-in. Similarly, your insurer could refuse a theft claim if you left your front door unlocked or a window open while out.

If you have left your property unoccupied for 30 days or more, again, a burglary, flood or fire claim could be rejected.

Always notify your insurer before carrying out structural building work, in case of mishaps.

Contrary to popular opinion, most insurers do want to pay honest claims. But you still shouldn’t give them any excuse to reject yours.

 

To discuss your motor insurance and to obtain a competitive quotation, call Reader’s Digest Insurance Services today on 0208 069 3102.