How to make a home insurance claim

Find out what you need to do to make a home insurance claim for theft or damage to your property.

alice morgan
Alice Morgan
Updated 17 June 2021  | 3 min read

The basics

Making a home insurance claim often comes at an already stressful time - the last thing you need is a difficult claims process.

But reassuringly, Association of British Insurers (ABI) data shows that insurers do usually pay out for domestic property claims. For example, £473 million was paid to customers affected by the severe storms in Feburary 2022 – and that's not including the support given for other claims not related to the extreme weather.

Whether you’ve been burgled or your home has suffered damages from something like flooding or subsidence, you should contact your insurer as soon as possible.

Key points

  • If you’re burgled, call the police for a crime reference number
  • Next, ring your insurer to submit a claim
  • Keep receipts and take photos as evidence
  • If repairs aren’t urgent, make sure your insurer agrees to any work before getting it done

How to make a home insurance claim

Call the police

If you’ve been burgled, the first thing you need to do is call the police, who’ll issue you with a crime reference number that you can give to your insurer.

Ring your insurer

Give your insurer a call to explain what’s happened, providing as much detail as possible. Your insurer’s phone number will be on your policy documents - make sure you have your policy number to hand when you do.

Out of 311 buildings insurance policies on Defaqto, 66% have an emergency claim line so you can get help with what to do next, even if there's been a fire or flood in the middle of the night.[2]

If you’ve been burgled, tell your insurer what damage has been caused and if anything has been taken.

Keep bill receipts, documentation and take photos as evidence

Gather evidence of the damage by taking photographs and getting together any receipts - you’ll have to send these off to your insurer.

If repairs aren’t urgent, get the insurer to approve the work

If your home needs repairs, you need your insurer to agree to the work before you get in contractors and start paying for materials.

But if it’s an emergency, insurers are usually understanding and should reimburse you if you need to make urgent repairs.

What evidence will you need?

Be prepared to send as much evidence as you can.

That could be in the form of:

  • Receipts for damaged or stolen items
  • Bank statements to show you bought the items
  • Photos to show the damage caused
  • CCTV footage, if you’ve been the victim of a burglary

You’ll have to pay your excess when you make a claim - that’s the amount you agreed to pay towards a claim when you took out the policy.

For lower-value items, weigh up whether it’s worth making a claim at all - it’ll be cheaper to pay for them yourself if their value is lower than your excess.

Your premiums will also go up after you’ve made a claim so the future cost of your policy will be affected - remember to take that into account.

What happens when you’ve made a claim?

If you’re making a large claim, your insurer might send out a loss adjuster.

A loss adjuster is an investigator who confirms any damage or losses and assesses what repairs need to be carried out.

Loss adjusters are hired to investigate and advise on an insurer’s behalf.

The insurer will then either organise the necessary repairs or send you a cheque for the amount you’ve claimed.

If the insurer leaves it to you to organise the repairs, it might ask you to get quotes from several tradespeople.

How long do home insurance claims take?

A home insurance claim can take between 48 hours to over a year to be settled, depending on a number of factors, such as the type of damage being claimed for and how many people are involved in the process.

How much will my house insurance go up if I claim?

Filing a home insurance will almost certainly increase your premiums the next year. The amount it increases by will often depend on the type of claim you make.

For instance, public liability claims are more likely to make your insurer see you as a potential risk, than a burst pipe.

Even if you have protected no claims discount, you could still see a higher premium the next year.

Make sure you have the right level of cover - if something’s missing from your policy, tell your insurer immediately
Ceri McMillan, home insurance expert

How to complain about a claim

If you’re not happy with the outcome of your claim or the way it’s handled, email your insurer explaining why.

An email will make sure you have a record of the conversation.

If your claim has been rejected and you think this is the wrong outcome, highlight why you think that is.

If the amount you’ve been offered is less than the claim, provide your insurer with evidence to prove that the value of the claim is higher than its figure.

If you’ve gone through the company’s complaint procedure and you’re still not satisfied, contact the Financial Ombudsman Service.

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^Up to £250 refunded after claim settled. Excludes accidental loss or damage claims. Full T&Cs apply.

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[2]Last checked 9 December 2022