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Consumer Rights.

I want to claim on my insurance, what should I do?

We all need insurance at some point be it car insurance, home insurance or travel insurance. Follow our advice to make a successful claim.
Which?Editorial team

Check policy time limits

If you want to make a claim, you should get a claim form from your insurance company or broker without delay. 

Always check the terms of your policy for time limits within which claims must be reported, or claim forms completed, and make sure you comply with them.

If you don't strictly follow the claims procedure, you may find that the insurer will not cover you.

Loss adjusters

On receipt of your claim, your insurance company may arrange for a loss adjuster to visit you to assess whether your claim is valid.

Loss adjusters are hired to investigate and advise on your insurers’ behalf. You can in turn appoint a loss adjuster who will charge a fee for representing you.

The loss adjuster will ask you a number of questions to establish the validity of the claim, and will then send a report to the insurer, which usually includes a settlement figure.

If you aren't satisfied by the insurance company’s offer, write to your insurer explaining why you're dissatisfied.

Key Information

Top tips

  • Always check the terms of your policy for time limits for reporting claims
  • You may be contacted by a loss adjuster who will assess the validity of your claim
  • You may have to show that a theft has been reported to the police, so make sure you get a police report or incident number from them

Gather evidence

Depending on your type of claim, you may need to show that a theft has been reported to the police, so make sure you get a police report or incident number.

If your luggage goes missing while you’re travelling, fill in a ‘property irregularity form’, and if you have to make emergency purchases, keep the receipts.

Get medical evidence if your claim depends on this – a report from a doctor or specialist, for example. And if you're claiming medical expenses on your travel insurance policy, keep receipts for any medication.

If possible, take photographs, and get statements from other witnesses about any event that may give rise to a claim.

Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, it's considered an unfair commercial practice if your insurance company keeps asking you to provide documents which could not be reasonably considered relevant to validate your claim.

Home buildings insurance

Remember an insurance policy is not a maintenance contract.

It's normally a condition of your home buildings insurance that you keep your property in good condition and take reasonable steps to avoid damage to it. 

If you don't do this, you could find that your claim is declined.

If your insurance company is not prepared to settle your claim, you'll have to prove the validity of your claim.

If you're unable to provide any evidence in support of your claim, it may be very difficult to prove that your claim is indeed valid.

Home contents insurance

If your property has been stolen, you must report the theft to the police immediately. 

If you don’t, your insurance company could refuse to meet your claim. Always check the wording of your policy to see how much to claim. 

If your policy offers new-for-old cover, you're entitled to claim the cost of buying a new item to replace the one that's been destroyed or stolen. 

With indemnity cover you claim the cost of replacing the item with one of the same age and condition to the one damaged or stolen. 

Your insurer is not obliged to settle your claim by paying you a full cash settlement. Many insurance companies reserve the right in their policies to repair or replace damaged or stolen items.

If you're dissatisfied with the insurance company’s offer, try to get evidence, such as receipts and independent valuations, to back up your claim.

Flood damage

If your home is damaged by floods and you own your home, you should ring your provider to find out about repairs and replacements for damaged items, and to get help with alternative accommodation.

You may find it difficult to get flood insurance in high risk areas.

The Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has published a guide ‘Obtaining flood insurance in high risk areas’, which provides information that will help you obtain a suitable policy.  

Car insurance

You are obliged by law to have car insurance.

If you don't want to end up paying for your own repairs, and you can’t prove that the damage was the other driver’s fault, you will need comprehensive insurance cover.

This gives you the components of third party, fire and theft cover, plus cover for damage to, and theft of, your car and its contents. 

It also includes your medical expenses, and the cost of taking your car to a garage and then home again after an accident.

Normally, the value of the car is taken as its market value at the time of theft or damage being sustained.