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Home insurance claim rejection

Find out more about the different ways you can invalidate your home insurance and how to avoid your claim being rejected after a burglary or incident.

amy smith
Amy Smith
Updated 30 June 2021  | 8 min read

Why are some home insurance claims rejected?

When you buy home insurance you need to follow the rules to make sure your policy’s valid. If you don’t your insurer could reject your claim.

Problems with claims usually come about because you’ve unwittingly forgotten to mention something important to your insurer, or you’ve tried to claim for something that you thought was covered, but it isn’t.

Key points

  • Be totally honest with your insurer when you take out cover
  • Check what you’re actually covered for – in particular, whether your policy includes accidental damage cover
  • Pay attention to any security clauses in your policy like locking windows and setting burglar alarms

Your home insurance will be invalid if:

  • You give dishonest information about your home and situation when you buy the cover
  • Your home isn’t secure, with doors and windows left unlocked
  • The property is poorly maintained

But claims can be rejected for a number of reasons – bad DIY, or taking a long holiday are just two examples you might not know about.

Your policy documents will list exclusions, but here are some common scenarios.

Damage that isn’t covered by home insurance

If you have accidental damage cover included on your policy it’ll cover most unforeseen breakages, leaks or spillage - but there are some exceptions.

Some damage just won’t be covered by your home insurance if it’s caused by your negligence, or if you’re covered elsewhere.

Home improvements and bad DIY

Some policies won’t cover you if you drill through a water pipe or electrical cable, so getting a professional to do the work might save you money.

Builders

Having builders on site increases the risk of windows and doors being left open or unlocked.

If you don’t let your insurer know about the building work, accidental damages caused by work people might not be covered, and you wouldn’t be covered if a burglary occurred due to a door left unlocked either.

When you appoint people to work on your home, always check they have their own insurance in place as well.

Vermin

Damaged caused by mice and rats might not be covered under your home insurance, so if you notice the presence of vermin, it’s important to act quickly.

Lay traps or call in pest control to handle them, before any lasting damage is done to your home.

Deliberate damage

If any deliberate damage is done to your home or contents, you’ll have to pay for repairs yourself.

This applies whether the damage was done by you, a tenant or a visitor.

If a burglar can simply walk right into your home, take your valuables and escape just as easily, it’s no surprise that any claims for the theft wouldn’t be covered by your home insurance

Keep your house secure

Not securing your home properly or taking unnecessary risks could mean your insurer refuses to pay your claim due to negligence.

Keys

Keeping your keys in a key safe, or under a doormat, may invalidate your home insurance if a thief uses them to break into your house.

Your insurer may also not covers thefts due to lost keys or keys given to a friend or neighbour.

To secure your home and keep your insurance valid, keep your keys indoors, out of sight and reach of windows and doors.

You could even store your car keys upstairs, so they are harder to find and don’t provide intruders with an easy getaway.

Failing to use security

If you’ve got a home security alarm and certain types of locks, declaring them to your insurer could reduce the price of your home insurance, as well as giving you peace of mind.

But declaring these measures and not using them could invalidate your policy. Many insurers insist that if you have an alarm it must be activated at certain times, like when you leave the house, or are asleep.

Opening windows or forgetting to lock them could also void your insurance, and if a burglar gains unforced access to your home, you wouldn’t be covered for anything stolen.

Locks

Tell your insurer what locks you have on your windows, front and back door. Don’t say you have a more secure lock than the one you have.

Not securing valuables or tools

Secure any garden furniture or tools in a locked shed, or in your house.

Unsecured tools, ladders or hammers for example, that are used to break into your home might invalidate your insurance.

Supply accurate and honest information

If you’re not truthful when applying for home insurance, you’ll be giving your insurer misleading information.

This means that any claims you make will be invalid, where the facts don’t match what you’ve previously told your insurer.

Time away from home

Most home insurance policies say you can’t be away from your home for more than a set amount of time (usually 30 days).

Fire

If you’ve told your insurer you have a fire alarm, make sure it works and check it regularly. Don’t remove the batteries unless you’re putting new ones in, or it’ll be useless if there’s an actual fire.

Flooding

Insurers ask how far your home is from water to evaluate the risk of flooding, so be as accurate as possible.

Don’t exaggerate

Over-estimating the value of your building or contents insurance claim is fraud.

Inflating the cost risks invalidating your claim.

Declaring your home as a place of business

Running your business from home can save you a little on start-up costs, but clients coming and going means an increased risk of theft, from the perspective of your insurer.

Conducting business from home is something your insurer needs to be informed about, to accurately calculate your premium price.

Stay off social media

Posting about your holiday on social media is advertising that your home is, or will be, empty.

Even showing off an expensive purchase could be seen as increasing the risk of theft, so it’s best to keep it to yourself, and only tell people you trust.

Getting a lodger

An extra person in the house, especially an almost stranger, increases the risk of accidents and damage to your home.

Not declaring a lodger could invalidate your policy, especially if you need to make a claim as a result of damage caused by them.

Failing to report a crime

Don’t hesitate to call 999 if you’ve been a victim of theft. To be covered by your insurance for a theft, you need to report it to the police within 24 hours to get a crime reference number.

Five things you must tell your insurer

  • If you’re going to be away from home for longer than the set limit
  • If your circumstances change, like getting a new job or moving house
  • Before you make structural home improvements
  • After you make certain home improvements
  • If you use your home as a business

What can I do if I feel my insurer has refused my claim unfairly?

If you feel your claim has been unfairly rejected:

  1. First, talk with your insurer – find out why your claim was refused and explain why you think this isn't fair
  2. If you're still not happy you can submit a formal complaint to your insurer. Include supporting evidence and the outcome you'd like. The insurer has eight weeks to return its final response
  3. If after eight weeks, or after getting a final 'deadlock' response from the insurer, you think your complaint wasn't properly handled, you can get in touch with the Financial Ombudsman Service. It'll check if your complaint is something they can help with, and whether your insurer has acted fairly based on the terms of your policy.

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