Making an insurance claim

If everything goes well, making an insurance claim is simple and stress-free – especially if you take time to get all the details right. This article takes you through the process of making an effective claim on insurance like home, car and travel. A little further down you’ll find more information on life and health insurance like private medical insurance, income protection and critical illness cover.

Be prepared – keep good records

Being prepared means you keep everything you need to hand just in case you need to make a claim. This means keeping receipts for the things that are insured, and keeping your policy documents somewhere safe.

If you’ve insured valuable objects it’s a good idea to take photographs showing their condition.

Your claim – step by step

Step 1 – Report it

If you’re claiming for something that has been stolen or vandalised, you should always report the incident to the police before doing anything else. Most policies have time limits for you to report things to the police so do it straight away.

Step 2 – Check your policy

The next step is to make sure you’re covered for whatever has happened, and then check if there is a procedure you need to follow.

Say you have a burst pipe and you need it fixed right away. Some policies state that you have to use a workman approved by the insurance company. Don’t just call your usual plumber – look at your policy, check you’re covered for burst pipes, and then get someone out to fix it who meets the criteria set out in your policy. Sometimes the insurance company will make all the arrangements for you.

Step 3 – Find all the documentation

Having everything to hand makes the whole process go more smoothly. You’ll need:

  • your policy document
  • receipts for anything stolen or damaged
  • reference numbers – for example if you filed a police report

Step 4 – Get the facts straight

Remember

To help speed up the processing of your claim make sure you answer all questions truthfully and can fully explain the circumstances of any claim.

Be clear about exactly what happened so you can tell your story factually and consistently with no missing details or exaggeration. It’s often best to write it down.

Make sure you know:

  • times and dates
  • details of everyone involved (the other party in a car crash, perhaps, or the plumber that fixed your burst pipes)
  • exactly what happened
  • what you’re claiming for – how much money you expect to get

Step 5 – Bought through a broker? Call them first

When you buy your insurance policy through a broker, they’ll often help you claim. They might offer advice and support, or work with your insurance company and get almost everything done for you.

Either way, it’s well worth giving them a call before you talk to your insurance company.

Step 6 – Call the insurance company’s helpline

To make the claim itself, call the claims helpline for the insurance company. This number will usually be listed on your policy document, and on the insurer’s website. Be prepared to give all the details and information you worked out in steps 3 and 4.

Life and health insurance – what’s different?

If you file a life insurance or private medical insurance claim, your insurance company will usually have very specific rules about how you claim.

For example, with private medical insurance your claim is triggered when you have treatment. To get treatment you need to:

  • visit your GP
  • ask your GP to refer you to a private doctor
  • contact your health insurance company to get approval for private treatment

For life insurance, critical illness and income protection claims, contact the insurance company first to make sure you know the exact procedure.

Tips for getting your claim accepted

  • File your claim as soon as possible. Your policy may have a time limit for making claims – and even if you’ve got plenty of time, it’s best to file while the information is fresh in your mind.
  • Give the details clearly. The easier you make things for your insurance company, the fewer hold-ups there will be when they’re processing your claim.
  • Don’t exaggerate. Never try to overplay the value of your claim. Stick to the facts. Insurers are used to seeing claims that don’t stack up. Ask for too much and you could invalidate your claim.
  • Document the damage. Take photos and videos of damaged possessions, substandard hotel rooms, or whatever you’re claiming for, as soon as the damage occurs. Note down flight numbers for delayed flights, make lists of items stolen – the more solid evidence you have, the quicker it is for an insurance company to process your claim.
  • Document the claims process. Any time you talk to your insurance company, note down the date and time, the name of the person you spoke to and what was said. Keep any letters you’ve received, and copies of letters you send.

Rejected claims

Has your claim been rejected? Read our guide to see what to do next.