A Guide to Making a House Insurance Claim
Making A Claim
When it comes to making a claim on your house insurance theres a number of important points to consider.
In the first instance, if you have suffered a loss it may not be immediately apparent if the missing items are in fact lost or stolen. Either way it is important to report the loss to the police as soon as possible. Make sure you get a crime number. The police should record the incident and provide a crime number which an insurer will require in the event of a claim.
Similarly in the event of damage caused by a suspected break in or vandalism the police must be notified and a crime number obtained once the incident has been recorded. Banks and card issuers must also be notified as soon as possible if cheque books and bank or store cards are missing.
Following a break-in its important to secure the property and to take all reasonable steps to prevent further damage from occuring if possible. In general insurers have 24 hour helplines; keep the number handy and do call it immediately to get assistance and advice on what to do next. The insurer may organise any emergency repairs. In any event sufficient repairs should be carried out as quickly as possible to ensure the property is again secure and weatherproof.
Keep any paperwork including quotations and receipts. Ideally its best to take photographs to record any damage. Damaged items should be kept for inspection. Compile a list of missing and/or damaged items and make the insurer aware that the list is correct but not exclusive or final since further damage or missing items may be discovered at a later date.
Filling Out a Claim Form
Having taken steps to secure the property against further damage or loss, contact the insurer's helpline or claims centre to report the damage and request advice on what to do next and a claims form.
Of course its important to establish that you are indeed covered for the damage under your policy and that you can therefore make a claim. In addition the value of the claim must be greater than any excess that the policy requires the policyholder to pay.
The claim form basically asks when, where and how the loss or damage occured. The form should be filled out and returned promptly. Make a note if estimates of damage will be forwarded subsequent to the initial claim.
Permanant repairs should not be carried out without the approval of the insurance company. The insurer may require several estimates to be carried out for any proposed repairs before work is begun. The insurer may well require original receipts or professional valuations for lost or missing items.
Where the claim is not straightforward it may be necessary to provide any additional evidence that the insurer may require. For example, damage caused to a property by a storm could arguably either be caused by the storm itself or by the inadequate state of repair of the property.
To investigate the claim further the insurer may send their own claims inspector. Large or complex claims may warrant the appointment by the insurer of a loss adjuster to verify that the claim is genuine, reasonable and valid. A loss adjuster, whilst not directly in the employ of the insurer, acts in their interest.
Finally, most claims are settled promptly and without dispute. However, remember that you can complain direct to the insurer and if not satisfied with the outcome contact the Insurance Ombudsman Bureau.