No Hassle Insurance Claims

The following is based on article from Which? Magazine, published May 2015

Some insurers can turn a mishap into a nightmare. If you are submitting a claim, then you most likely have already experienced an unfortunate event such as fire or burglary. Unsympathetic staff, frustrating delays, poor quality repairs and lousy payouts can make the whole process even worse than it was before.

In Which?’s latest survey of members who have made a claim in the past two years, one in five were less than satisfied with their claims experience.

One member told Which? that he was left homeless for a year after a burst water main flooded in his property. His insurer refused to pay for alternative accommodation and halved his claim. He described his ongoing fight for a fair settlement as “a traumatic experience”.

Some figures from Which?’s survey that 14% of home claims were fully or partially rejected, some undoubtedly for the right reasons. However, six in ten of those whose claims had been rejected didn’t take further action, mainly because they either didn’t think it was worth the hassle or that they did not know what action to take.

How To Avoid Claims Hassle

Which?’s research identified five common problems in the claims handling process, which are listed below:

  1. Delays

    Problem: insurer is slow to acknowledge claim, respond to communications, carry out investigations or reach decisions

    Action: choose an insurer who scores highly for overall claims satisfaction, speed and customer service. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you are unhappy about delays

  2. Repairs

    Problem: repairs are poor quality or take too long to deal with

    Action: most insurers have a panel of tradespeople. Speak to your insurer if you are unhappy with the chosen trader or if you would prefer to use your own. You will probably be asked to obtain a few quotes for the work

  3. Proof of claim

    Problem: the insurer will want evidence that the loss occurred, plus proof of ownership. If the insurer suspects fraud, this can lead to stressful investigations

    Action: keep receipts or invoices to prove ownership. Take photos of high value items and any damage done. Report the incident and get a crime number

  4. Value of settlement

    Problem: disagreements over the amount that the insurer agrees to pay out. Complaints that vouchers had been given instead of cash for items such as jewellery

    Action: keep receipts for high value items to prove their worth. Get an up-to-date valuation for antiques. Look out for policies that offer a “new for old” replacement

  5. Policy small print

    Problem: claims can be rejected if the policy doesn’t cover the incident being claimed for

    Action: before you choose a policy, check the details carefully so you know what it does and doesn’t cover. Most place responsibility on the policyholder to take all reasonable steps to prevent loss. For example, most car insurers will not pay out if your car was stolen because you left the keys in the ignition. Also watch out for single item limits for unspecified valuables as items above that value won’t be covered. Choosing a Which? recommended provider will ensure that you get good cover.

Should I Claim?

People with a history of claims are seen as a higher risk and are likely to pay more for cover. When Which? undertook a survey, almost half of the people noticed that their premium had increased. You should compare whether it is worth claiming for or not. If the value of your claim is less than the excess, then there is obviously little point in doing so.

For minor damage it may be cheaper in the long run to repair the damage without involving your insurer. However, you are legally obliged to notify your car insurer of any incidents, even if you do not claim. You must also tell your home insurer about incidents such as burglaries.

How Well Does Your Insurer Handle Claims?

Between November 2014 and January 2015, Which surveyed 1,440 people who had claimed on their car insurance and 1,394 who had claimed on their home insurance in the last two years.