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Is it really worth claiming?

Making a claim against a home insurance policy is usually the first thing we think of after a natural or man-made disaster that has caused damage to either the structure or the contents of a home. However, it is important to come to terms with the situation quickly, acting to prevent any further damage if necessary, before going ahead with the claims process; sometimes it may be better to pay for minor repairs yourself rather than trigger rises in future premiums. Filing a claim, in reality, makes subsequent policy renewals costlier, while also cutting out additional benefits allowed for a no-claim policy. So, an appropriate course of action could be to handle minor repairs or replacements yourself without involving the insurance company. Even informing your insurers that a claim may be made in the future - even if it isn't - is likely to result in  a record of the circumstances being stored on a database held by an organisation called the Claims and underwriting Exchange which can be accessed by all the other insurers, which means that not only your present insurers but also any other that you approach will consider you a somewhat worse risk than before, and may adjust premiums accordingly. They are, after all, interested in your risk profile as well as the number and size of any claims you may submit.

First Things First

If the damages or loss is extensive, you may decide to go right ahead with the claims process. Gather proofs, locate the insurance papers, check out the exact terms of the policy to make sure the claim is justified, get the personal policy number and the helpline number, and honestly report the incident.

Most insurance companies handle clearly genuine claims in a professional and sympathetic manner. However do bear in mind that the process of making a claim can sometimes prove to be a patience test, while also calling on the sleuthing skills of an individual to quickly gather sufficient material proof – documents, bills, receipts, photographs, and videos, to support the claim. The insurers cannot always be blamed for this since there is a certain amount of insurance fraud about as well as a flood of spurious claims as a result of our compensation culture and they owe it to their customers to investigate these matters properly in order to avoid increased premiums for the rest of us. Communication skills come in handy when dealing with the claims adjuster to present facts in a concise manner, giving no room for the claim to be under-paid or totally rejected.

Burglaries will first have to be reported to the local police and the claim filed, once the forensics have been completed and a crime reference number provided for the case.

The more documentary evidence, the smoother will be the process.

Other Formalities

Standard claims are usually filed by filling out a set of prescribed forms. They can also be submitted in writing. Remember to attach all documentary evidence along with this request.

A large value claim is usually investigated by the insurance company, with the help of a claims or loss adjuster who is bound to inspect the home to assess the extent of damage. The claim being honest, in tune with the terms of the policy, and backed up by receipts and/or other evidence is usually sufficient enough for it to be cleared.

Accordingly, the insurance company may choose to either repair or replace damages, or reimburse the claim, depending upon the policy conditions. Compulsory excesses, however, are very much a part of every claim, so do bear in mind that you are likely to have to pay something towards making good any losses yourself.

Standing Your Ground During A Claims Process

At the end of the day, insurance is meant to be a profitable business. Claims, which cut into those profits, can get under-paid or rejected for a host of reasons, even if they are genuine.

It’s really important to be present at home when the damage is assessed. Following up with the adjuster on a regular basis is necessary to track the progress of the process. Documenting the entire process also is crucial to keep note of communications and send out timely reminders. Make sure to claim for alternate living arrangements and vehicles, in case the policy has these included in the terms.

Staying calm and professional during the entire process will definitely ward off any unforced errors that may jeopardise the claims process.

Lastly, do remember that ultimately you can report the facts to the Insurance Ombudsman if the process gets unduly delayed, complicated or dropped for any reason. The ombudsman's job is to check, impartially, on whether or not your claim has been processed fairly. This should be a last resort however, since if the case is found against you your chances of an appeal are pretty much non-existent so it may be best to exhaust all attempts to persuade your insurers to pay up first, particularly if their liability is open to debate.

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