Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where you need to make a claim on your insurance – after all, that’s the reason you took out a policy in the first place. Making a claim is straightforward in most cases, but complicated claims can sometimes arise, which means that being organised and prepared is all the more important.
Keeping your policy documents somewhere safe should be a top priority, just in case something goes amiss that forces you to make a claim. You may also want to keep the purchase receipts for anything that you have insured with your policy documents, just to ensure that they’re on hand should they be needed.
Should you need to make a claim, there are a few simple steps to follow:
Make a Report
If you are a victim of a theft or vandalism it will only be natural to want to make a claim. You should, however, always report the incident to the police before doing anything else. Many policies have time limits in place for you to report crimes to the police so do it as soon as possible.
It may also be useful to make a personal record of dates, times, key facts and details of what has happened. This will help you to remember any important details should you need to check and confirm something later down the line.
Check Your Policy
Next, you should make sure that you are covered for what has happened. There may be a specific procedure that you need to follow which can differ from insurer to insurer.
For example, in the wake of a storm you could find that some of your roof tiles have blown off leaving you with water ingress as a result. Some policies may require you to use a workman that has been approved by the insurance company, which means that whilst it would be natural for you to want to call a roofer to come and complete a remedial repair to the roof to try and reduce further damage, you may risk invalidating your claim.
You should look at your policy and check you’re covered for the incident, and then get someone out to fix it that fits the criteria set out in your policy. Your insurance company may in some cases make the arrangements for you.
Gather All of Your Documentation
Having everything to hand makes the whole process easier. You’ll need:
- Your policy document.
- Receipts for anything stolen or damaged.
- Reference numbers – e.g. the crime reference number provided if you filed a police report.
- Any key dates, times or additional information that may be relevant to the claim.
You should make sure to answer any questions you are asked truthfully as well as fully explaining the circumstances of any claim in order to help make sure processing your claim goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Used a broker? Contact them first
Insurance brokers can often help you to report a claim. If you bought your insurance policy through a broker, get in touch with them first, as they may be able to offer direction and support, or work with your insurance company to process the claim on your behalf.
Either way, it can be well worth getting in touch with them before calling your insurance company.
Get in touch with your insurance company
To get the claim started, call your insurer’s claims helpline, which you can usually find easily on your policy document or on your insurer’s website. You will find following the steps above most useful when first reporting your claim as you’ll need to be prepared with information about the incident.
Things to check before making a claim
Before you get in touch with your insurance company to start the process of making an insurance claim, it’s worth considering the follow things to save on time:
Are you within the time limits for making a claim?
Most policies will have a time frame for which claims can be reported. Make sure to check the terms of your policy for time scales within which claims must be reported or claim forms completed to ensure you comply with them.
Are you covered for what you’re claiming for?
It seems obvious, but you should check to make sure that whatever you’re claiming for is actually covered by your insurance policy. Your insurance policy may have exclusions which will prevent you from making a claim, so check the policy documents carefully. If you have taken out separate policies with different insurers for different types of cover, then you need to make sure you contact the right insurer.
How much is your excess?
The excess is the amount of money that you have agreed to pay before making a claim and can usually be found on your policy schedule. Your insurer will take this off the claim’s payment. If the amount you’re claiming for is less than the excess, it may not be worth making a claim.
You will always have to contribute the full amount of the excess; all policies will have a compulsory excess and may have a voluntary excess which you agreed to when you took out the policy, so factor both figures into your calculations.
If you decide not to make a claim, it is still recommended that you tell your insurer about an incident in case any liability issues arise in the future.
Have your read the small print?
It’s worth ensuring that you take time to make sure there’s nothing in the terms and conditions that prevents you from claiming. This could be a specific exclusion defined in your policy or a limit to the amount an insurer will pay.
For example, the use of heat may be excluded from your policy so if you use any heat producing equipment such as a blow torch or soldering iron, and happen to cause a fire which results in a costly claim, you will have to pay for the damage. Another example may be that your policy outlines a height limit of 10 metres for work being carried out.
If an employee is working above this height and suffers a fall and resulting injuries, no responsibility for the claim will be accepted by your insurers).
Does your policy cover new for old?
If it doesn’t, then the amount you may be paid for the items you’re claiming for will be less than the cost of replacing them as your insurer will take off money for wear and tear.
Top tips for helping the claims process
Your policy may have a time limit for making claims, so be sure to report your claim as soon as possible.
Even if your policy allows for plenty of time, it’s always best to start the process while the details are fresh in your mind.
Make sure that you provide clear details of the incident and stick to the facts to help keep the claim moving as swiftly as possible.
Document the damage such as taking photos and or videos as well as making a list of the damaged or stolen possessions, or whatever it is that you’re claiming for as soon as you can. The more solid evidence you have, the quicker it will be for your insurance company to process your claim.
Document the claims process. Whenever you speak with your insurance company, make a note of the date and time, the name of who you spoke to and what was discussed and said, ask for a reference number or “Claims Reference Number” as this will help insurers find your file when you speak to them.
Make sure to keep a file of any letters you’ve received, and copies of any letters or documents you send/ submit with respect to the claim.