Home insurance: how to avoid a rejected claimOne in five home insurance claims are turned down

27 January 2016

Block of coloured houses

More than 20% of home insurance claims are rejected

More than one in five home insurance claims are turned down, according to new research by the Association of British Insurers (ABI). 

The analysis, based on figures from 2013 and 2014, found that 21% of claims are refused. 

The main reasons were: 

  • Wear and tear and damage caused by poor property maintenance
  • Claimants not having the necessary cover. For example, many make claims for accidental damage when their policy doesn't cover this    
  • The value of the claim being lower than the excess.

Which? has rated 14 leading home insurance providers based on how satisfied their customers were with the claims process. Find out which providers performed best in our home insurance claims satisfaction tables.

Home insurance claims: how to get a hassle-free payout

1. Get the right amount of cover

A home insurance policy with a high excess and no cover for situations such as wear and tear or accidental damage might be cheaper, but it could ultimately leave you frustrated if you need to make a claim.   

We recommend choosing a provider that offers good cover and great customer service, as well as decent value for money.  

In our home insurance reviews, we've rated 39 providers on the key aspects of its standard policies, as well as our unique customer satisfaction scores, to help you find the best deal.   

Find out more: best and worst home insurance - see which providers we recommend

2. Prepare yourself in advance

Many insurers will ask you for proof of purchase if any of your items are stolen or damaged. Whenever you make a big purchase, keep the receipt in a safe place or take a photograph of the item.

3. Keep your home well maintained

Buildings insurance policies are offered on the condition that your home is maintained regularly. Claims are often turned down if this is found not to be the case, especially following storm damage to a roof. Have your roof inspected every few years and keep proof that this has been done.

4. Call your insurer promptly

Many home insurance providers give up to 180 days to make a claim, but it's always best to get in touch as soon as possible. Delaying a claim could worsen the damage.

5. 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.

You should also avoid redecorating, at least 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.

6. Take photographs

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

Travel insurance claims rejected

The research also revealed that 13% of travel insurance claims were rejected in 2013/2014. The main reasons were: 

  • Failing to tell insurers about pre-existing medical conditions
  • Not being able to prove ownership of lost or stolen goods 
  • Canceling a holiday for reasons not listed on the policy

Just 1% of motor insurance claims were refused.

ABI director general, Huw Evans said: 'Contrary to popular belief, insurers want to pay honest claims. It helps nobody when customers have bought the wrong product or have not disclosed important information.'

'We will use the analysis we are publishing today to drive awareness campaigns to improve even further the acceptance rates for home and travel.'

Find out more: how to claim on your travel insurance - top tips from our experts

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