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.
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.
There are several different types of claim you can make depending on your policy, but the most common are:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While the majority of car insurance claims are successful, they can be rejected for several reasons, including:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are some simple things you can do from the outset to reduce the chances of any future claims being challenged:
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