Steps to follow
Have you suffered some sort of loss which is covered by an insurance policy?
If so, first check your policy to ensure it’s worth making a claim – most insurers will hike up your premiums if you claim and, if you have one, you could lose your no claims discount as well.
Not all claims will be honoured, for example, if the damage is down to wear and tear or if it was largely your fault and easily avoidable (such failing to cover furniture if you’re decorating).
Make your claim promptly, being clear and accurate about what the damage is and what you are claiming for. Phone your insurance company’s claims department: they will take your details and either fill out a claim form for you or send it to you to fill out.
Any losses resulting from crime should also be reported to the police. Get the police to give you an incident number which your insurer may ask you for.
If you have a car accident, don’t admit liability or offer to pay for any damage. If the other driver does, tell your insurer. Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of anyone involved, including witnesses. Ask the other driver for their insurance policy details. Make a note of what happened – include the time, date, location and weather conditions.
When you make your claim, ask how long the claim process is likely to take and try to agree a timetable with your insurer.
Ask your insurer what you need to do to lessen any further loss. Don’t take any action – such as organising emergency repairs – unless this has been approved by your insurer.
Take photos of any damage caused and keep notes throughout the claims process of all contact you have with the insurance company and their agents.
If more than one insurance company is involved in sorting out your claim (eg, if you need to claim on your contents and building insurance), make sure you establish who is doing what.
If you're not happy with how your insurer is dealing with your claim, complain first to the company itself. If they don’t sort out your problem satisfactorily, contact the Financial Ombudsman Service.
What to watch out for
Make sure your claim covers the full extent of your loss including cleaning, repairs, replacements and, if you’re covered for it, loss of business.
Solicitors top tip
You may be visited by the insurer's loss adjuster who will assess the loss. If your claim is large and complicated and may therefore be disputed by the insurance company, it may be a good idea to appoint your own loss adjuster who will be able to negotiate your claim.
Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)
Forum of Insurance Lawyers
Association of British Insurers
British Insurance Brokers Association
Scottish Environment Protection Agency
National Flood Forum
Rivers Agency in Northern Ireland
Overview of insurance for business
Overview of motor accidents
Injury of a member of staff at work