When you buy home insurance, you're looking for peace of mind that the things you value are covered should the worst happen. But data from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) shows that over 20% of home insurance claims made in the UK between 2013 and 2014 were unsuccessful.
This rate is far higher than with car and travel insurance claims, so why is there such a big difference and what can you do to give yourself the best chance of having your claim paid?
Keep your home well maintained and secure
If you read your home insurance policy, you will almost certainly find a requirement for you to keep your property in good condition. Damage caused (or made worse) by a lack of maintenance may not be covered. Slipped roof tiles, damaged rendering, blocked gutters and poorly maintained flat roofs could all contribute to claims being rejected - at least in part.
You must also make reasonable efforts to make sure that your home is secure. It may sound obvious, but make sure doors and windows are locked shut to reduce the risk of burglary and if you have an alarm on your home, don't forget to set it whenever you leave the house.
Check that the level of cover is right for you
Often people think they're covered for certain eventualities and it's only when they make a claim that they find they're not.
You should always check that an insurance policy is suitable for your needs. Look out for assumptions the insurer may make, any exclusions or special terms for high value items. And don't assume that all insurers' policies are the same - these can differ from company to company.
If you want cover for accidental damage to items within your home, make sure it's in your policy - you may be required to add it separately. The same goes for cover for your possessions you take with you when you leave the house - this could be very important if you take expensive items out with you.
Remember to check your excess too. You should set this at a level you're comfortable with - you'll be required to pay this amount towards any claim and so won't be able to make a claim for anything below that value. For example, if you have a £100 excess and break your favourite vase that's worth £100, there's no point making a claim.
You'll have a 14-day cooling-off period after taking out an insurance policy to read all the detail and make sure it's suitable for you. If it's not, you can cancel the cover without penalty by contacting the insurer.
Keep your insurer well informed
No-one enjoys filling out seemingly endless forms, but it's important that you give your insurance company the most accurate picture of your home and insurance history as possible. They use this information to determine the premium they charge. Anything that's not right may lead an insurer to misunderstand the risk they're accepting and could invalidate your policy. It's sometimes referred to as "full disclosure".
So always be careful to answer all questions to the best of your ability. If your house has a thatched roof or has been underpinned, you need to let them know. It may increase your premium, but better that than find a claim rejected later because the information you supplied didn't match the reality of your situation.
And should anything change, be sure to keep your insurer informed - new locks, alterations to windows or building an extension may all have an impact on your policy. A quick phone call could avoid a great deal of stress later down the line.
Don't claim for wear and tear
Insurance policies don't cover wear and tear. So if you try to claim when your trusty vacuum cleaner packs up on you after 12 years' loyal service, you're likely to be disappointed! The bottom line is that if something has worn out because it's old and has come to the end of its serviceable life, you can't claim for it.
Insurers do pay out: over £8m in home insurance claims was paid out per day on average in 2015 according to the ABI. Following these simple hints should reduce the chances of you having your claim turned down.
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