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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Claiming against your insurance

If your home has been damaged your insurance may cover the cost of repairs. Read your policy and make sure that the damage is covered. Your policy documents will tell you what to do if you need to make a claim.

Buildings and contents insurance

There are two types of household insurance policies. Buildings insurance protects you against damage to the structure of your home together with its fixtures and fittings and home contents insurance protects you against damage or loss of things that you would take with you if you moved.

Both policies cover you against:

  • fire,
  • subsidence,
  • theft,
  • flood,
  • storm damage.

Insurance policies won't cover everything

Most insurance policies have a number of exclusions. These explain what isn't covered. Read your policy to be sure you are clear about what is covered. If there is anything you don't understand contact your insurer.

You will usually have to pay the first part of any claim yourself - this is called an excess. The amount you will have to pay depends on the type of insurance policy you have. Check your excesses when you buy your policy and at each renewal date.

Claiming on your insurance

All insurance policies set out clearly the risks they do and do not cover. Read your policy and make sure that the damage is covered by your policy. If you are not sure ask your insurance company for advice.

Ask your insurance company for a claim form. Complete the form as soon as possible and return it with estimates for the cost of repair or replacement of the damaged property.

If you can't get estimates quickly send the claim form to the insurance company straight away and tell them you will send estimates as quickly as possible. If temporary repairs have to be done to prevent further damage, arrange for the work to be done and keep bills. The cost may form part of your overall claim.

After making your claim

As soon as the insurance company gets your estimates it will either:

  • pay your claim straight away,
  • arrange for a claims inspector to call on you, or
  • send a loss adjuster to handle the whole claim.

The claims inspector is employed by the insurance company and will arrange with you how your claim should be settled.

Loss adjusters are independent experts with a good knowledge of the area in which they operate. They will tell the insurance company the best way to settle your claim.

Your insurance company will want to see evidence of ownership and value of property which has been lost or damaged. If possible keep receipts and professional valuations. If you don't have these ask the insurance company what other evidence it will accept.

Complaining about how your claim was handled

Contact your insurer if you're not satisfied that your claim has been handled correctly. If you still aren't happy with your insurer's response to your complaint, you can refer your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service. The service is free and the decisions bind the insurer, but do not affect your right to take legal action should you wish to do so.