Car insurance claim rejection: what to do next

Find out what you can do if you feel your claim has been unfairly rejected and how to avoid a car insurance claim being declined in the future.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 8 November 2022  | 4 min read

Key points

  • A claim could be rejected for several reasons, including if you don’t have the right type of cover or you’ve provided incorrect information
  • Before appealing a rejection, check your policy documents and make sure the details are correct
  • To challenge a rejected claim you’ll need to follow the insurer’s official complaints process
  • If your appeal fails, you can use the Financial Ombudsman Service to investigate and help resolve it

What can you claim for on your car insurance?

There are several reasons why you might want to claim on your car insurance, but what you can actually claim for will depend on your level of cover.

Third-party cover provides the most basic level of protection. It only pays out if you injure another person or damage their car or property. You won’t be able to make a claim for your own car.

However, it’s possible to add cover for fire and theft to your third-party policy, which means you can claim if your car is stolen or catches fire.

Fully comprehensive car insurance provides you with the most protection. With this type of policy, you’re protected whether you caused the accident or not and it covers third-party costs, as well as any damage to your own car.

The most common types of car insurance claim

There are several different types of claim you can make depending on your policy, but the most common are:

Non-fault claim

If your car’s damaged and it’s another person’s fault, you can make a non-fault claim. The insurer recovers the cost of the claim from the other person or their insurer. The insurers will make the final decision on who’s at fault and the payout amount.

Fault claim

If you have an accident and your insurer has to pay out for the damage, it’s known as a fault claim. You don’t have to be to blame - for example, the driver at fault may have fled the scene - but if your insurer has to pay out, this is still classed as a fault claim.

Partial fault claim

Sometimes known as a 50/50 or partial blame claim, a partial fault claim happens when both drivers are partly to blame and are claiming on their respective policies. The percentage of liability the other side takes will affect how much payout you receive.

Claim for theft

If your car’s stolen, you need to inform the police and your insurer straightaway. Your insurer may wait to see if your car’s found before they pay out. If you do get a payout, it’s likely to be the current market value of the car, taking depreciation into account. Also, receiving a payout for theft will usually end your policy, as you won’t have a car to cover anymore.

Windscreen claim

Depending on your policy, you may be able to make a claim for a cracked or chipped windscreen. Most fully comprehensive car insurance policies include this cover as standard, or you can buy it as a policy add-on.

Common reasons car insurance claims get rejected

While the majority of car insurance claims are successful, they can be rejected for several reasons, including:

  • Out of date information – Failing to update your address or having an expired driving licence or MOT can invalidate your insurance policy
  • You’re not covered - A claim may be rejected because your policy doesn’t cover what you’re claiming for, so always check the terms and conditions
  • Using a different named driver - Insuring your car in the name of someone who’s not the main driver to reduce the premium is insurance fraud (called fronting) and will invalidate your claim
  • Negligent behaviour - Driving your car irresponsibly or making mistakes like leaving your car unlocked and your key in the ignition can mean your claim is refused
  • Modifying your car - If you make any modifications to your car and don’t tell your insurer it could invalidate your policy
  • Unpaid premiums - If you don’t keep up with your premium payments - for example, if you move banks and your Direct Debits aren’t transferred - it could void your cover
  • Using the car for business or commuting - Your claim won’t be accepted if you’re only covered for social use and you claim for an accident you had when you were commuting
  • Filing your claim too late - The claim will be voided if you wait too long after an accident’s happened, particularly if you didn’t inform your insurer about it within 24 hours

What to do if your car insurance claim is rejected

If you feel your claim’s been unfairly rejected and you don’t agree with the decision, you have the option of making an appeal.

To do this, you should follow these steps:

1. Check the information you supplied

First, you’ll need to check whether you’ve given your insurer any incorrect information when you took out your policy and when you made the claim.

Failing to update your insurer on things like modifications or if you’ve changed your car can be considered as non-disclosure and a valid reason for rejection.

2. Check your policy terms and conditions

Another reason your claim may have failed is because your policy doesn’t cover what you’re claiming for. So read through your policy documents carefully before appealing.

Note down the exact wording of any text you find that says you’re covered. If it’s at all unclear or ambiguous, your insurer must explain further why they’ve rejected your claim.

3. Contact your insurer

Once you’ve checked your policy, contact your insurer. You’ll need to find out what their official complaints process is.

You can contact the complaints department by phone or by sending an official letter of complaint, but make sure to keep a record of all correspondence.

Include any evidence you have supporting your case. Your complaint will go through the insurer’s official review process before a decision is made.

4. If it’s still rejected - try the Financial Ombudsman

If you’re not happy with your insurer’s final response to your complaint, there’s always the option of using the Financial Ombudsman Service.

This is a free independent service that will investigate and assess your case. If they decide the insurer unfairly rejected your claim, they can have the decision overturned.

Why has my insurer agreed to the claim but not the full payout?

Sometimes an insurer will agree to a payout, but it doesn’t match what you believe is the car’s market value or the condition the car was in.

For example, you may feel the car’s worth more because of modifications you’ve added. However, some - like large spoilers or racing exhausts - might put buyers off, so this is taken into account.

Or the insurer’s assessment of the damage differs from how badly you feel the car’s been damaged.

It’s worth remembering that any payout you receive will be minus the excess you agreed to when you took out your policy.

If you disagree with the payout offered, you can complain to your insurer and ask them to provide you with written reasons for their decision. You can also take your case to the Financial Ombudsman.

How to prevent claim rejections in the future

There are some simple things you can do from the outset to reduce the chances of any future claims being challenged:

  • Get the right cover - Make sure you’ve got the right cover for your needs. If you think you’ll sometimes need your car for business or commuting, make sure you’re covered
  • Update your details - Let your insurer know about any changes. This includes if you make any car modifications or change your address
  • Maintain your car - Regular maintenance will keep your car in good condition. If your car wasn’t roadworthy at the time of the accident, it’s likely your claim will be rejected
  • Be hot on security - Don’t let your guard down when it comes to keeping your car safe and secure. Park in well-lit areas and don’t make theft easy by leaving your car unlocked
  • Be realistic - It’s important to give accurate estimates for your annual mileage and refrain from exaggerating the value of a claim, as this could soon backfire
  • Provide correct information - Don’t withhold or give false information to reduce your premium. Be honest about any medical conditions or criminal convictions you have
  • Act quickly - If you have an accident, it’s important to let insurers and the police know as soon as possible. You’ll usually have between 24 hours and seven days to make a claim
  • Tell insurers about previous claims - For your policy to be valid, when you apply for car insurance you must let the insurer know about any accidents you’ve been involved in during the last five years, whether they were your fault or not.

Previous claims can increase the cost of your premiums, so it’s always best to compare a range of policies to find the right cover at the right price

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