Home insurance: Claiming on your home insurance

House protected by hands

The last thing you need if your house is flooded or burgled is the stress of having to deal with your insurer. However, there are ways of making the claims process relatively painless. 

Our step-by-step guide explains how to make a hassle-free claim on your home insurance.

Find out more: Home insurance claims satisfaction

1. Prepare yourself in advance

Unless you can see into the future it is impossible to predict when you need to claim, however, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself.

Many insurers will ask you for proof, such as a receipt, if any of your items are stolen or damaged, and some Which? members have had claims turned down due to lack of evidence. Whenever you make a big purchase it is wise to keep the receipt in a safe place or take a photograph of the item.

It is also important to keep your property in a good state of repair. Insurers offer buildings insurance on the condition that your home is maintained regularly and claims are often turned down if this is found not to be the case, especially with storm damage to roofs. Make sure your roof is inspected every few years and keep proof that this has been done.

2. Call your insurer promptly

Many insurers will give you up to 180 days to make a claim on your home insurance but is always best to get in touch as soon as possible. Insurers like to handle large claims as soon as possible, especially if there is a flood or a fire. Delaying a claim could worsen the damage but there is also an obvious advantage to getting yourself back on your feet as soon as possible.

3. Don’t throw away damaged items

While it might be tempting to do a complete clean up following a fire or a flood, do not throw away damaged items. Your insurance company will probably want to assess what you have lost so keep your contents unless you are told you can bin them.

You should also avoid redecorating, at least not straight away, in the event of a flood. A property can take a long time to fully dry out and lifting a wet carpet could see it shrink.

Find out more: Home insurance - flooding and subsidence

4. Take photographs

When you submit your claim your insurer will ask you for a full rundown of what has happened, as well as evidence. Taking photos of the damage done to your property and its contents, or making a short video, can be useful in the event of a dispute.

5. Get help from a loss assessor

Taking on an insurer in the event of a large claim can be daunting. An insurer will send a loss adjuster round to look at your property and they will decide how your claim will progress.

However, with the loss adjuster appointed by the insurer you may wish to have someone working with you personally to also have a look at the claim. If you bought the policy via a broker you can always turn to them for help. Or you can appoint a loss assessor, a claims specialist who looks after the interest of the consumer, to help you at an additional cost.

6. Don’t be afraid to complain

If your claim doesn’t pan out as you expect, or you feel that your insurer has treated you unfairly don’t be afraid to make a complaint. Speak to your provider first but if it isn't proving helpful (and you have exhausted the complaints process outlined in your policy document) take the matter up with the Financial Ombudsman Service by calling 0300 123 9123.

You usually have six months from the time you reach deadlock with your insurer in which to make a complaint. The FOS' decision is binding on companies but not on the consumer, so you could, if you wish, refer the matter to court.

More on this…

Which? Limited (registered in England and Wales number 00677665) is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited (registered in England and Wales number 07239342). Which? Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited. Registered office: 2 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF.