Insurance is a curious product in that it’s something we buy hoping we’ll never use it. However, most of us come to reply on it sooner or later to put things right when things, typically through no fault of our own, go wrong. When they do, you’ll want the claims process to go as smoothly as possible.

Firstly, it always pays to know what your insurance, be that for your house, contents, vehicle or business, actually covers you for. It’s best to know this when you take it out or renew it, especially when it comes to things like the total sum insured for your home or contents. The cost of rebuilding soared around 18% over the past year, you’ll want to know if your cover has kept pace. Likewise, you may have treated yourself to a new television, bought some jewellery or other expensive items which will boost the amount of contents cover you need.

So, say something has happened. The first thing to do is to look at your policy and check what you’re covered for. Insurance is primarily there to cover sudden and unexpected losses such as theft, accidental or disaster related damage. Gradual damage, such as that caused over time by a pipe leaking behind a wall, is neither sudden or unexpected and cover for it is typically restricted.

You’ll also want to check your excess, the amount of money you are required to contribute to any loss. 

Next you’ll want to jump on-line or give your insurer a call to start the claims process. Having your policy number and being clear about what’s happened and who’s involved will really help. So too will having the number of any related Police report. Photographs can really help, especially if they show you with the item before it was lost. Receipts or other proof of purchase, or an independent valuation for high value items such as jewellery or artwork, also really help when making a claim.

While many claims can be dealt with quickly on-line, others might require you to make a call to talk things through with your insurer. If there’s damage to your home, your insurer may want to send someone round to assess your claim and get the ball rolling on repairs or sorting out a cash settlement. If you are one of many to be hit by a major storm, flood or earthquake, please be patient. When there’s been a major event, insurers work hard to bring people in from around the country to help and work with local councils, tradies and building materials suppliers to prioritise claims.   

When there’s major damage, its vital to put your own safety and that of your family first. Don’t do anything to put yourself in harm’s way, and that typically involves staying out of flood water and damaged buildings. Emergency repairs can be undertaken, but talk to your insurer before incurring any cost. Likewise, when disposing of items talk to your insurer and take photographs first.  

Staying with emergencies, many policies have allowances for emergency accommodation. Check if yours does. Likewise, it pays to check your contents policy to see if you’re covered for damage to someone else’s property, or for loss or damage to your own things away from home. This can sometime include property your children might have who are living away from home as students. 

It’s in your and your insurer’s interest alike to have your claim settled quickly. By being prepared, there’s a lot you can do to help thing go smoothly.

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