What Happens When I make an Insurance Claim?

No one wants to have to make a claim on their insurance.  Not only does a claim mean that you've suffered a loss, but claims can have a negative impact on your insurance as well, raising your premiums.  When it's time to make a claim, you might not know what to do or expect.  Having an insurance provider you trust is important.  Whether you've received insurance quotes online or in person, the level of coverage and the responsiveness of the provider is an important consideration.  Insurance companies have a process in place for when you need to make a claim, but in order to make the process a bit less daunting, we've answered the following, commonly asked questions for you.

First of all, before you call your home insurance provider in a panic, there are a few things you should do:

  • Assess the damage as well as you can.  If you have a camera or camcorder, you can take photos/videos of the damages you will be claiming for.  This will be useful as evidence to prove your claim and document your loss.
  • Inventory your losses.  List everything that's missing or damaged.  This will be something you are asked about when you call your insurance provider, so make sure you have as many details as you can remember about what is missing or broken.
  • Avoid making repairs, unless they are to prevent further damage from occurring or increase your safety and security while you contact your insurance provider.  Try and leave things as they are, but if more damage is occurring as a result of the disaster, doing whatever you can to mitigate the damages is a good idea.  You need to ensure you're safe and secure - and if that means that you have to make a temporary repair, then you'll need to.  Your insurance provider will be able to advise you on the next steps you should take and how they are going to help you with the damages.What questions will they ask me?

    You will most likely be asked what happened, when it happened and what actions have you taken so far in regards to fixing the problem.  Be prepared to describe the circumstances and the loss in detail.

    Is there any other information I will need to provide?

    Maybe not during your initial phone call, but as the claims process continues, any receipts, warranties, manuals, photos or valuation certificates of the expensive items covered by your insurance policy might be requested.  You should have these stored somewhere safe, so that you can use them as proof of value when you make a claim.  Expensive items can refer to, but is not limited to jewelry, paintings, watches, collectables, specialized equipment and other high value items.

    Alternatively if you are claiming for something that involves the repair of your home, vehicle, etc., it is normal for insurance providers to ask for two estimates (unless they use their own contractors) so that they can compare them both.  Your insurance provider will also likely be able to provide a reference list of approved businesses who you can contact for quotes on the repair.

    Lastly, if a burglary or some kind of criminal activity has taken place, then you will be required to call the police and inform them what has happened.  The police may either provide you with a report or incident number to provide to your insurance company.

    How about the deductibles?

    In most cases you will have to contribute part of the cost of your claim.  This portion is your deductible.  The amount will vary depending on the agreed upon deductible in your home insurance policy and you will be informed of the amount that you are required to pay before the claim is paid.

    When should I call the emergency helpline?

    The emergency helpline is your first point of contact for any incident that causes a loss and is covered under your insurance policy.  For example, under your home insurance policy things such as storm damage, burst water pipes, gas leaks, smashed windows and broken locks are likely covered.  Since these types of damage are unexpected and can happen at very inconvenient times.  Your contact at the emergency help line is there to help walk you through the next steps when something has happened so that you can start the claims process and get things back to normal sooner than later.

    How do I know that my insurance policy will cover me for my claim?

    Ideally, you should have read your insurance policy agreement in full before you signed and bought it, but even then you may be unsure of your coverage, or have forgotten the specifics of your policy.  If this is the case, you can always call your home insurance provider and ask them specifically if you are covered.

    If I make a claim, will my monthly premiums increase?

    This will depend upon your individual home insurance provider.  A lot of providers offer discounts based on a "no claims" rating, which is usually applied following one complete year of you making no claims.  If your home insurance provider operates this way, you won't necessarily have higher premiums, but you will lose out on your discount, which will raise your overall insurance costs.  Of course no one wants to lose out on their discount, but sometimes these things are unavoidable.

    If you make a number of claims in one year however, or single claims in consecutive years, there is a good chance that your monthly premiums will increase (in addition to losing your "claims free" discount!).  This varies based on your individual insurance provider and even which insurance product you're claiming on.  The change in your premiums will likely be affected by how often you claim, and what the values of your claims are.  Usually providers look at customers who claim regularly as being high risk, and so they will charge you more than someone who is considered to be low risk.

    How long will my claim take to sort out?

    This will inevitably vary depending the severity and complexity of your claim and the subsequent repairs and replacements required to correct your loss.  However, in an emergency situation your insurance provider will have provisions in place to help you in as many ways as possible and correct the immediate issues as quickly as possible.

    If you don't have faith in your insurance company or can't get in touch with them in the event of an emergency, then it might be time to see what else is being offered.  Checking for cheap insurance quotes from a variety of companies can help you make sure you're getting the best price and the best service!