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Published on 7th August 2017

Property insurance: Claims explained

Making a property insurance claim can never come at a good time. There are, however, a few simple steps to ensure the process is as straightforward and seamless as possible.

The golden rule in the event of having to make an insurance claim is to act quickly, following the incident. If you have emergency cover and the matter is urgent, it’s always best to call your insurer as soon as you can, whether that’s day or night. Policies vary, but most set a time limit for making claims, so don’t delay. Avoid cleaning up or throwing any damaged items away until you’ve spoken to the insurer, as your policy provider may want to assess the situation.

Making a claim: Four simple steps

Step 1: Check your policy document

First, make sure you’re covered for the incident. You should also see if there is an excess amount you’ll need to pay, as this may affect whether to claim. An excess is a fixed financial contribution that the policyholder contributes towards the total claim. This figure should be clearly stated on your policy paperwork.

Step 2: Gather everything you need together

Having all the paperwork together for your claim will speed things up. Typically, you’ll need your policy document for your policy number; receipts for any lost, stolen or damaged items; and a Crime Incident Number, if the claim is the result of criminal activity, such as vandalism or theft. To obtain a Crime Incident Number, you’ll need to report the incident to the police. Insurers often insist that a Crime Incident Number is obtained within a certain amount of time following a loss or damage, so it’s important to act promptly. Before calling the insurer, jot down the main details – including key dates and times and what you’re claiming for financially – so you can be clear on the phone.

Step 3: Call your insurance provider

Ring the claims helpline given on your insurance policy. Don’t worry if you cannot find the right telephone number; you’ll also find contact details on your insurance provider’s website.

Step 4: Keep a claim’s diary and all correspondence

Record the dates and times of your calls to the insurer, important notes and names of the insurer’s customer service advisers and contacts that you’ve spoken to. Keep any letters and correspondence from the insurance provider safe, responding to any actions first as soon as possible. It’s also worth taking photographs of property damage and keeping the images until the claim is settled.

Settling a claim

How your insurer settles your claim will depend on its size. The provider may offer you a cash settlement, leaving you to arrange the repairs yourself if you’re happy to do this. Or you may be asked to get quotes for the work from your preferred builder or supplier and submit these for approval. The insurer will then either arrange payment to you or settle with the chosen contractor. In some cases, the insurer will prefer to use its specialist builder, contractor or supplier, directly paying the firm for their work.

More advice on property insurance claims

Visit Associated Insurance Services, part of the Gateway Group, to view our Claims guide

Free property insurance review or quote

For a free review of your property insurance cover or highly competitive quote, visit Gateway’s specialist company, Associated Insurance Services

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