Making a Contents Insurance Claim
How to claim on your Contents Insurance policy
If your belongings go missing, report the loss to the police as soon as possible and make a note of the crime number the police give you and the name and address of the police station where you reported the loss. Even if you think that the item was lost rather than stolen, if you do not report the loss to the police the insurer may reject your claim. If your purse or wallet and/or cheque book have disappeared, report this to your bank and all credit and shop card issuers so that they can cancel your cards.
If your belongings are stolen following a break-in at your home, first concentrate on the damage to the building.
Although the cost of repairing the damage is covered by your buildings insurance, it will be a condition of your contents policy that you take immediate steps to make your home secure in order to prevent further loss – such as boarding up a broken window.
You should also take immediate steps to prevent further damage if your home and possessions have been damaged by fire, flood or severe weather – putting plastic sheeting over a hole in your roof for example.
Making the claim
Once you have reported the loss to the police and/or organised any emergency repairs, make a list of the stolen or damaged items and take photographs of any damage.
Do not throw away anything that has been damaged since your insurer may ask to see it.
Once you have established what you need to claim for, check your policy to make sure that you are covered then contact you insurer – using its helpline if one exists – for a claim form and advice on what to do next.
Fill in the claim form, giving details of what has been stolen or damaged and how this happened.
Your claim is likely to be processed more quickly if you back up your claim with the original receipt for the item, a professional valuation (if appropriate) or other proof of ownership.
You should also give estimates of the likely replacement and/or repair costs.
If you have not yet obtained estimates, send the claim form in anyway but add a not explaining that the form does not represent your final claim.
Warning: Do not repair or replace items until you have your insurer’s written agreement to do so – some insurers will arrange for the repair or replacement directly with certain suppliers.
When you make a claim after a burglary, make clear that the list of stolen items is complete ‘as far as I can see at present’.
If lots of things have been stolen, you may not notice that some things – jewellery you do not wear that often, for example – have gone missing until weeks after the break-in.
Checks on your claim
Provided that you have sent the necessary information in support of your claim, your insurer should agree to your replacing and/or repairing your lost or damaged belongings.
However, if you have claimed to replace a damaged item, your insurer may send a claims inspector to confirm that the item cannot be repaired before agreeing to a replacement.
If your claim is very complex, your insurer may appoint a loss adjuster.
Some insurers replace or repair items using their own suppliers, rather than giving you the money to do this yourself.
However, if the insurer cannot replace the item with the same model or a similar alternative – for example, if you are claiming for a piece of antique jewellery – you can insist that the company pays you the value of the item.
Alternatively, you can agree to pay the difference for a better version of what you lost.
Getting problems resolved
If your claim is not accepted in full, ask the insurer to explain why – and do not cash any cheques you are sent.
Be cautious of accepting any offers of less than the amount you are claiming.
If you are asked to complete a form agreeing to ‘full and final settlement’, do not sign if there is a possibility that you will have to claim more.
Common reasons why insurers reject or reduce a claim are:
• You are under-insured
• Your policy does not cover you for what you are claiming for
• You are claiming for the full cost of replacement, but your policy only gives indemnity cover
• The insurer has made a deduction for wear and tear.
If your insurer will not pay your claim, or has offered you less than you claimed because you could not provide a valuation, get a new estimated valuations by describing the items to experts like antique shop proprietors and jewellers.
If you cannot provide the original receipt and your insurer disputes whether you ever owned the item you are claiming for, try to find photographs depicting it – a snap of you sporting your new gold chain at your birthday party, for example – or take witness statements from people who have seen the things.
If the disputed claim is very large, consider employing a loss assessor.
If you and your insurer still cannot agree, and you think that your insurer is still being unreasonable, you can complain.
Home contents insurance claims answers
Faqs about making a claim under your home contents insurance policy