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Arranging repairs

If the incident isn’t an emergency, it’s best to wait rather than try to put matters right straightaway. For example, policyholders shouldn’t start making good, or get their builder to sort out, any property damage until the insurer has fully assessed the situation and approved costs for remedial work.

Following a water leak or flood, it’s also best not to redecorate immediately. It can take a while to properly dry out a property, often requiring specialist equipment. Brick and timber can look dry to the eye, even to an experienced builder, but exceed safe moisture limits and be structurally unsound. A wet carpet can shrink if lifted too soon.

In an emergency, you’ll need to prevent any further damage by making temporary repairs. See 'Emergencies' for further details.

Being prepared

It’s best to keep important paperwork safe and ready to hand, especially your policy details and any estimates and invoices for approved remedial work that you want to claim back. For Contents insurance, we recommend you take photographs of valuable items, as well as holding relevant receipts.

Claim time limits

Policies vary, but most have a time limit for making claims, so don’t delay. Get in touch with your insurer as soon as you can and then file your claim as swiftly as possible afterwards, while all the details are fresh in your mind.

If you’ve been unfortunate enough to experience criminal activity, you’ll need to speak to the police to get a Crime Incident Number. This will need to be done quickly after the incident. For further details, see 'Criminal activity'.

Collecting evidence

If you can, keep a diary of key dates and information regarding your claim. Take photographs of property damage or even make a short video. And don’t throw away damaged items as they are evidence themselves.

Criminal activity

If your claim is the result of criminal activity, such as vandalism or theft, first report the incident to the police and ask for a Crime Incident Number. You can then submit your claim. Many policies set a time limit for you to do this, so get in touch with the police as soon as you can.

Documentation you'll need

Before making a claim, it’s best to have your policy details to hand, in particular your policy number. This will speed up the process and you’ll be able to get on and explain what has happened.


Your policy will include a claims helpline, and possibly a 24-hour support line if you need to call outside of office hours. Wherever possible, it’s always best to speak to the insurance company first, before calling anyone out to put emergencies right.

Don’t worry too much about finding your policy document if in a hurry; the insurance provider will be able to track down your policy number from your name and address details. And most insurers are able to give a quick agreement for you to act on an urgent matter by appointing a qualified plumber, electrician or other relevant professional.

If that’s not possible, go ahead and stop any further damage. Keep the invoice and, in most cases, your insurer will refund what you’ve paid out, less any excess amount.

Excess amounts

Insurers will generally reduce the premium of a policy where there is an excess amount. This is the fixed financial contribution that the policyholder needs to make towards the total claim.

While some policies have no excess amount, excesses of between £350 and £500 are not unusual for claims such as water damage, so always check the amount first before making a claim.

Loss adjusters

To resolve large or complex claims, such as fire or flood damage or where several rooms are affected, the insurer may ask a loss adjuster (surveyor) to visit your property.

This specialist will assess the extent of the damage and send an estimate for the repair work to the insurer. It’s worth remembering that most policies will replace items and make matters good on a like-for-like basis, based on what was there previously.

Maintaining your property

For your buildings insurance policy, it’s important to keep your property in a good state of repair. This is often a condition of holding this type of cover.

Keep details about when you had your property maintained, including relevant invoices. It’s also a good idea to have your roof inspected every few years and file the relevant paperwork somewhere safe in case you need to claim storm or another type of damage.

Making a claim: Main steps

Act quickly following an incident to file your claim. If you have emergency cover and the matter is urgent, call your insurer right away.

Step 1: Check your policy document
Make sure you’re covered for the incident and then check the claims’ process you need to follow. You should also see if there is any excess amount you’ll need to pay as that may affect whether you claim.
Step 2: Gather everything you need together
Having all the paperwork together for your claim will speed things up. Typically, you’ll need your policy document, receipts for any lost, stolen or damaged items and a Crime Incident Number where relevant (see Criminal activity). Jot down the main details – including dates and times and what you’re claiming for financially – so you can be clear on the phone.
Step 3: Call your insurance provider
Call the claims helpline given on your insurance policy. You’ll also find this number on your insurance provider’s website.
Step 4: Keep a claim’s diary and all correspondence
Record the dates and times of your calls, important notes and names of the insurer’s customer service advisers and contacts that you’ve spoken to. Keep any letters and correspondence from the insurance provider safe, responding to any actions promptly first.

Rebuilding value calculator

Unsure of your home’s rebuild costs or want to check this amount to make sure you’re not under or over insured?

Visit the Association of British Insurers’ website at where you’ll find a useful residential rebuilding cost calculator. You just need to register first.

Reporting changes

It’s really important to let your insurance provider know about changes to your details and circumstances.

Failure to do this can invalidate your cover. From a change of name to extending your property or sub-letting it, get in touch. If in doubt, always ring your insurer and check – you’re paying for peace of mind, after all.

Settling a claim

How your insurer settles your claim will depend on its size. The provider may offer you a cash settlement, leaving you to arrange the repairs yourself if you’re happy to do this.

Alternatively, you may be asked to get quotes for the work from your preferred builder or supplier and submit these for approval. The insurer will then either arrange payment to you or settle with the chosen contractor. In some cases, the insurer will prefer to use its specialist builder, contractor or supplier, directly paying the firm for their work.