The insurance claims process explained
Insurance is a safety net that can help cushion the financial blow should the unexpected happen, but how do you actually make a claim? Whether you’re claiming for your home, car, or business, we take a look at the general claims process so that you can feel prepared should the need arise.
- Can I make a claim?
- How do I make a claim?
- How long does a claim take?
- What should I do if someone is making a claim against me?
- Help and support throughout the claims process
Can I make a claim?
Most insurers will have a clear claims process that will be set out in your policy documents. But before you make a claim, it’s a good idea to consider:
Your policy wording
Make sure that what you’re claiming for is actually covered. For example, if you’re claiming for accidental damage to your carpet, make sure you have cover for accidental damage under your policy.
Similarly, landlord insurance will have clear terms and conditions about what you can claim for under certain conditions. For instance, you can usually only trigger a loss of rent claim if your property cannot be lived in because of an insured event, such as a fire or flood.
Some policies only give you a limited amount of time after the event has occurred to make a claim, so if something happened a few months ago, it might be too late.
This is the amount of money you must pay towards a claim. For example, if your excess is £200 and you’re claiming for £900 worth of damage, you would be expected to pay the £200 excess while your insurer pays the remaining £700.
Before you claim, consider the cost of the excess, versus the cost of resolving the issue yourself. For instance, in the example above, the £200 excess could be worthwhile as your insurer is paying out considerably more than you are through your excess. But if the cost of damage was only £300, the £200 excess means you’re paying more towards repairs than your insurer. In this scenario, you might decide it’s not worth making the claim.
Your no claims bonus (NCB)
Some policies allow NCB which is calculated according to the number of years you’ve gone without making a claim. The specific amount of discount you receive (usually a percentage) varies by insurer. Making a claim is likely to mean that your premium will increase the following year because you will have less or no NCB (unless you have protected it), so you will need to factor this into your decision about whether to make a claim.
The single item limit
This is the maximum amount you can claim for any single item on a home contents policy. The limit varies by insurer but it’s usually around the £1,500 mark. That might sound a lot, but if you’ve got art, jewellery, antiques, or other valuable items, their value might exceed this. If this is the case, you may find that your single item limit is not enough to cover the value of your claim.
Policy premium the following year
Making a claim can mean you pay a higher premium at renewal, even if you’ve protected your no claims bonus. Remember – although the NCB discount remains the same, the price of the actual policy is still likely to increase because you’ve made a claim.
How do I make a claim?
The claims process will generally vary depending on the scenario. With that in mind, you should contact your broker or insurer as soon as you possibly can, depending on your situation. For example, if you’re involved in a car accident that involved several other people, you may need to call the emergency services first. But if you’ve got home emergency cover and your boiler breaks down, calling your insurer should be the priority. This is because they will often have their own list of approved engineers and using your own could mean your insurer rejects your claim.
Insurers usually have dedicated claims helplines that you should call if your broker is unavailable.
What will I need to do if I make a claim?
When you speak to your broker or insurer, they should take you through the process for your specific claim. You may have to fill out a claims form, or answer questions over the phone. It’s important that you answer any questions as clearly (and honestly) as possible.
You should also include as much evidence as you can, including dates, times, photos, and statements from any witnesses (if this applies).
If you’re claiming for items and have receipts or details of the make or model, you should specify this in your claim. For car insurance claims, dashcam footage is increasingly being used as evidence, so remember to include this too if you have it.
If your claim is particularly large your insurer may send out a loss adjuster to assess the damage.
How long does a claim take?
The claims process can take anything from a few days to several months from start to finish. Ultimately, it depends on the nature of the claim and how complicated it is, for example, buildings insurance claims for subsidence could take at least 12 months to be fully resolved.
If other agencies are involved, such as the police, this might also take extra time as they may need to file their own reports.
How can I speed up the claims process?
With insurance claims, providers need to establish the facts of what happened before they can make a decision on the outcome. If your claim is disputed then this can slow things down.
Evidence is a key part of helping insurers establish facts, so the more that you can provide, the smoother and more efficient the process is likely to be. Examples of paperwork that you might need to keep to hand, include:
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Receipts or valuations
- Correspondence between you and your insurer
- Any reports compiled by experts (such as a surveyor)
What should I do if someone is making a claim against me?
If someone makes a claim against you, speak to your broker or insurer as soon as possible and they will be able to advise you of what happens next. It’s also important to know that you shouldn’t admit liability as this can mean the other party is compensated.
Help and support throughout the claims process
At Alan Boswell Group we understand that making a claim can be stressful and that the process can feel complicated and lengthy. That’s why we have a dedicated in-house claims team, so that we can support you through the process.
We can also offer guidance on the type of insurance that’s most suitable for you, as well as risk management for businesses, lowering the risk of declined claims in the future.