Understanding Home Insurance Claims
What You Can and Can't Claim For
Making a claim on your home insurance is something that we would all ideally like to avoid. However, if anything should ever go wrong - whether it’s a flood, fire or burglary - you’ll need to know exactly what your policy covers. There are often misunderstandings surrounding home insurance, and many people only come to realise that they cannot make a claim when it’s too late. If you want to avoid being caught unawares, here’s the Chill Insurance brief guide on what you can and can’t claim for on a standard home insurance policy.
What does buildings insurance include?
Buildings insurance covers the entire structure of your home, including the roof, walls, ceilings, floors, doors and windows. Depending on your insurer, It may also include permanent fixtures, such as fitted kitchens or bathroom suites, as well as certain outdoor structures like outbuildings and greenhouses. A standard buildings insurance policy should cover the full cost of repair or rebuild in the event of a fire, explosion, storm or flood, theft, vandalism and subsidence.
When arranging buildings insurance, you will need to estimate your home’s total rebuild value to ensure you are fully covered.
What does contents insurance include?
Contents insurance covers your household belongings, including electrical appliances, furniture, household goods, personal items and valuables. Most contents policies provide protection against theft, fire, vandalism and damage from fire and flood.
You must provide an accurate estimation of the total value of your goods to ensure that you have the right level of cover should you need to make a claim. It’s also worth noting that if you make a claim on your contents insurance, your insurer may apply a ‘single article limit’ to your possessions, which is the maximum amount they will pay for an item. This will vary depending on the type of item and the insurer.
Before taking out a policy, and when looking after your property and belongings, it’s important to take into account the costs that you may not be covered for.
One of the main exclusions to be aware of is maintenance. For example, if your roof suffers general wear and tear over time, most home insurance policies won’t include the cost for checking or replacing it. However, if a major storm or fire has caused the damage, you should be able to make a claim. Make sure you check with your insurer or broker when taking out your policy so that you are aware of their policy details.
Another example of a maintenance problem that is often misunderstood is damp patches. Again, if the problem is the result of a storm or a leak you may be able to claim for repairs, whereas if it was caused by a lack of maintenance you will not be able to make a claim. Likewise, you may only be able to claim for a leaking or damaged pipe if you can prove that it was caused by ice.
Other common exclusions include mechanical breakdown of appliances, wear and tear on home furnishings, faulty workmanship and damage to fences, gates, garden walls and hedges.
It’s worth bearing in mind that you may not be able to claim or recover the full costs if you fail to notify your insurer immediately after you notice a problem. To save yourself from having to fork out for large repair bills and avoid increased insurance premiums in the future, it’s a good idea to regularly inspect and maintain your property.
It’s also worth noting that when you make claim, you will usually have to pay an excess. This can be compulsory (the amount you pay towards a claim made on your home insurance) or voluntary (the amount you pay towards a claim on top of the compulsory excess). The higher your voluntary excess, the lower your premium is likely to be. Once again check with your insurer to see what their excess levels are on your policy.
You may lose your no claims bonus if you make a claim, which could cause your premiums to shoot up. Under-insuring your home will also mean that you are unable to claim the full cost of repairs.
For added peace of mind, you can add a number of additional extras to your policy. For example, personal possessions cover can protect items that you take outside of the home, such as any valuables or clothing. You can also take out additional cover for accidental damage and loss, home emergency, high value items, specialised equipment and freezer food.
If your home is located within a risk area, be sure to check that you are covered for subsidence and flood. While this extra cover could cost you more, you will have the reassurance of knowing that you are fully protected if the worst happens.
Always read the small print
Of course, what you can and can’t claim for will depend on the type of cover you have. Before you take out home insurance, make sure you have read the policy documents thoroughly and are aware of the benefits, exclusions and limitations. If you fail to read the small print, you could be in for a nasty shock when your claim is rejected because you don’t have the right level of cover in place.
It’s also important to be completely honest with your insurer when taking out insurance. If there are any potential issues that you know of you must inform your insurer of them straight away, as failing to disclose this information could mean that your policy is invalid when you come to make a claim. For example, if you have had an extension on your home, you will need to re-evaluate its rebuild value and inform your insurer.
What to do when making a claim
In the event that you need to make a claim, first of all you will need to check your policy to see if you are covered and contact your insurance company as soon as possible and ask for a claim form. If you have lost property or there is a crime involved, you will need to report it immediately - remember, your insurer is likely to need this information for their records and may refuse to pay out without it.
Read More: The Claims process explained.
If you have any further questions about your home insurance policy and want to speak to an expert, don’t hesitate to call one of our experienced advisors on 01 400 3400.