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10 tips to improve your chances of having your home insurance claim approved

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Imagine your home was burgled and some of your prized possessions were stolen or a burst water pipe wreaked havoc on your belongings. But you have home and contents insurance, so your policy should cover you, right?

While home and contents insurance can provide a level of financial cover for your property and possessions, not all claims made to your insurer will necessarily be accepted. Denial of a claim can occur because of a range of factors, including exclusions in your policy or failing to disclose certain information to your insurer.

So, what can you do to improve your chances of having a home and contents claim approved should an incident arise?

Here are 10 tips to consider.

1. Disclose all relevant information to your insurer

When you apply for or renew your policy, you’re obliged to provide your insurer with relevant information regarding your home and contents, such as disclosing details of any existing damage to your property or possessions and letting your insurer know if you have previously made any home insurance claims. It is also important you are accurate and honest with the information you do provide.

For example, if you neglect to tell your insurer you are aware of a leaky pipe in your home and that pipe ends up bursting and causing water damage, then any claims you make in relation to that damage may not be approved.

2. Check your policy exclusions

When you take out home and contents insurance, it is important to understand that your policy will most likely exclude coverage for certain types of events or circumstances. These are called policy exclusions. These exclusions, and other terms and conditions, will be outlined in your policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). Some common exclusions could include flood, existing damage to your property or possessions, or general wear and tear. You may wish to contact your insurer before claim time if you’re unsure whether a particular item or type of damage will be excluded from cover.

3. Maintain your home and contents

A requirement of most standard home and contents insurance policies is to keep your property and contents well-maintained, including repairing any minor damage or deterioration. If damage occurs because you did not maintain your home or items properly, your insurer may exclude cover for some or all of the damage or loss. For example, if you fail to clean leaves and debris out of your gutters and rain water builds up and causes damage to the walls or carpet in your home, then your insurer may reject a claim relating to this damage.

To help avoid circumstances like this, it can be a good idea to keep your home in good condition by cleaning it regularly, fixing any damage, tidying your garden and keeping your appliances and electronics in working order.

4. Notify your insurer if you leave your home unoccupied for a long period of time

Many insurers do not cover loss or damage that occurs after your home has been left unoccupied for an extended period of time. The maximum time you can leave your home unoccupied without it affecting your insurance will depend on your policy, but typically ranges from 60 to 120 consecutive days. However, if you tell your insurer in advance that you will be away, then they may agree to provide unoccupied cover for your home and contents for an extended period. If approved, this extension or endorsement may cost an additional fee depending on your provider.

5. Notify your insurer of home renovations

Some home and contents insurers may not provide cover for damage or loss connected to any alterations, repairs, extensions or renovations you make on your home. Contact your insurer and check your policy to see if you need to add additional insurance to cover building work, or if there are any renovation-related clauses to follow. You may also need to consider a specialised policy or check your builder’s insurance to see if it covers you.

6. Make sure valuable items are adequately covered

Per item and total limits may apply under your standard home and contents policy. This means valuable items such as jewellery, cameras, artwork or laptops may not be adequately covered. If a limit does apply and one of these items is lost or damaged, your insurer may only pay up to a certain amount to replace or repair it when you make a claim. If you want to insure an item for more than your policy’s set limit, you may be able to list it separately as a specified item. Specifying items for extra cover will typically add to the cost of your insurance. For portable valuables such as electronics or jewellery, another option may be to consider taking out portable contents cover.

7. Provide proof of ownership for items

If your possessions are lost or damaged, your insurer may ask you to provide evidence that you owned these items when making a claim. If you don’t have this proof, then you may run the risk of having your claim rejected. As such, it is important to keep receipts for your items, particularly those of a valuable nature, and to take photos of your items while in the home. It is also a good idea to take photos of your damaged items before moving them or making any repairs.

8. Improve home security and safety

If you don’t take reasonable steps to prevent loss or damage to your home or contents, including securing your home against break-ins, then your insurer may refuse your claim. For example, if you were to leave your door unlocked or a window open, which then leads to a burglar gaining access to your property, then your insurer may not cover the costs to replace stolen or damaged items. Check your policy to understand the security requirements and ensure you meet them, or contact your insurer.

9. Report burglary to police

If you suspect your home has been burgled and your items are missing, it is important you file a police report as soon as you can and ask for a copy of that report. Your insurer will generally need this report to help confirm a theft has occurred and that the insured party is not at fault. If you do not provide a report for a claim relating to theft, your insurer may not cover you.

10. Check if waiting periods apply

It is also important to be aware of any waiting periods that may apply from when you purchase your policy to when you can claim for cover for particular events such as storm, flood or fire damage. Exclusion periods may range from 48-72 hours, depending on your policy. If you try to claim within this exclusion period your claim could be declined.

 

Guest blog by Steve Mickenbecker | Group Executive - Financial Services at Canstar

About Steve Mickenbecker

Steve Mickenbecker is the Group Executive - Financial Services at Australia’s biggest financial comparison site, Canstar. He has decades of experience in the finance sector and is passionate about helping consumers make informed decisions with their personal finances.

Disclaimer:

This advice is general and has not taken into account your objectives, financial situation, or needs. Consider whether this advice is right for you. Consider the product disclosure statement (PDS) before making any financial decision. For more information, read Canstar’s Financial Services and Credit Guide (FSCG)

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