Home insurance claims: How do they work?

Unsure about home insurance claims? Learn how to submit a claim and how to deal with claim issues.

Children dancing

Home insurance claims shouldn't be complicated. To keep things simple and stress-free, follow this step-by-step guide on how to submit a claim, how long claims take to be resolved and how to deal with any home insurance claim issues and disputes.

How do I submit a claim?

For successful home insurance claims, follow these fool-proof steps:

✅ Contact your insurer

Do this as soon as practically possible; it keeps your insurer informed and gets the claims process underway.

✅ Get a claims form

You can usually fill out or download a claims form off your insurer's website and submit it online. Alternatively, you can call your insurer and ask them to send you a form and mail it back to them. This will usually take longer than any online process.

✅ Provide evidence

This is the most important bit. Firstly, write down your version of events. The sooner you do this, the better, because your memory is fresh, which helps increase the validity of your claim. Each claim is different but the information you'll most likely need includes:

  • Receipts related to your claim
  • Photographs and videos of the damage or event
  • Police reports, if your claim is related to stolen items
  • The most up to date valuation report
  • Product makes, including model and serial number

When you're gathering evidence, it's a good idea to keep all your details together in a folder. If important documents are missing, you may need to provide written evidence of why.

You might also need to keep a hold of damaged items as well if possible as evidence or potential repair.

How long do I have to submit a claim?

Unlike other forms of insurance, like travel, there often isn't a time limit when it comes to filing a home insurance claim in Australia. Depending on the insurance company you are with, time limits can vary from 30 days to as much as 1 year and more.

Regardless, you're best bet is to file your claim as soon as you've gathered all the necessary information. This is because it's much easier to prove your claim when it's happened recently because there is generally a lot more evidence of damage. It's also much easier to recount exactly what happened as the incident is fresh in your mind.

If you take a while to report your claim, there's a good chance your insurer won't pay for any additional losses or damage caused by the delay, so it's good to get in early.

How long does my insurer have to make a decision?

According to the General Insurance Code of Practice, insurance companies should respond to your claim within 10 business days, letting you know whether they have accepted or denied your claim based on the information you have given them.

If your insurer needs more information from you before coming to a decision, they will let you know within 10 business days of receiving your home insurance claim. They might use a loss adjuster to get more information. In these cases, your insurer should keep you in the loop as to how long it will take to come to a decision.

There are some circumstances where this might not be possible. For example, if your house is damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster such as a large flood or fire, it's likely that a large portion of the community will be affected. If this is the case, your claim might take longer than 10 days and the Code of Practice allows them to take up to 12 months to make a decision.

What if I'm having issues with my home insurance claim?

If your claim is rejected and you disagree with the result, you have a few options. You can get a broker's opinion on whether your claim can be challenged. If your claim has been rejected due to a lack of evidence, they might be able to help you obtain documents, reports or any other relevant evidence to overturn the decision.

You can also file a formal internal dispute with your insurer. This means that your insurer will have to review their decision within a 45 day time limit and take a fresh look at your claim.

If you or your broker are unable to come to a resolution with your insurer, you can file a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. They handle all home insurance claim disputes in Australia.

Taking stock of your possessions

Creating an inventory of your home and contents is vital as many insurers require you to submit one if you lodge a claim, which means having an out-dated and incomplete inventory, or none at all, can result in lengthy delays as their ability to properly assess the value of your items is hindered.

The most straightforward method of putting one together is to go through your property room by room and make a record of your possessions and their approximate value. Some additional advice to help you develop your inventory includes:

  • Keeping the receipts or other proof-of-purchase documents of items.
  • Taking photographs of items to provide additional evidence of ownership.
  • If you aren't sure of the value of more expensive items such as jewellery and artworks consider having them professionally appraised.
  • Remember that some items, such as antiques, may increase in value over time, so make sure to have them reappraised every few years.
  • Make an effort to regularly update your inventory as you replace old items or buy new ones. Keep your photo inventory up-to-date as well.
  • A range of computer software and smartphone apps created for the purpose of home contents inventory management are now available, such as iTrackmine, Delicious Library, MyHome Pro, Box It Up and Evernote.

Final things to keep in mind

To give yourself the best possible cover and ensure that your claims are processed quickly and successfully, remember to:

  • Equip your home with safety and security devices approved by your insurer such as alarms, CCTV and Residual Current Devices (RCD).
  • Add cover to your policy for floods, fires or cyclones if you live in an area prone to such events.
  • Avoid making small claims you could easily pay yourself, as these can push your premiums up.
  • Don't leave your home unoccupied for more than 60 days, as it may not be covered by your insurance.
  • Always file your claim as soon as possible, as further damage due to delays may not be covered.
  • Always have any temporary or emergency repairs approved by your insurer or they may not be covered.

Looking for home insurance? Compare policies from Australian providers

Details Features
Home & Contents Insurance
Home & Contents Insurance
Save 30% when you purchase cover online
  • Fire, storm, & theft damage: Yes
  • Rebuilding & repairs to your home: Yes
  • Accidental damage to home or belongings: Optional
  • Underinsurance protection: Yes
  • Full building replacement: No
Go to site More info
Building and Contents Insurance
Building and Contents Insurance
Youi Home Insurance takes the time to tailor a premium for you.
  • Fire, storm, & theft damage: Yes
  • Rebuilding & repairs to your home: Yes
  • Accidental damage to home or belongings: Optional
  • Underinsurance protection: No
  • Full building replacement: No
Go to site More info
Home and Contents
Home and Contents
30% online discount. Earn 5,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer Points when purchasing a new eligible policy. T&C’s apply.
  • Fire, storm, & theft damage: Yes
  • Rebuilding & repairs to your home: Yes
  • Accidental damage to home or belongings: Yes
  • Underinsurance protection: Optional
  • Full building replacement: No
Go to site More info
Home and Contents Insurance
Home and Contents Insurance
Buy online and save up to 10% on your policy.
  • Fire, storm, & theft damage: Yes
  • Rebuilding & repairs to your home: Yes
  • Accidental damage to home or belongings: Yes
  • Underinsurance protection: No
  • Full building replacement: No
Go to site More info
Home and Contents Insurance
Home and Contents Insurance
Save up to 25% when you purchase cover online.
  • Fire, storm, & theft damage: Yes
  • Rebuilding & repairs to your home: Yes
  • Accidental damage to home or belongings: Yes
  • Underinsurance protection: Yes
    • Full building replacement: No
Go to site More info
Home and Contents Insurance
Home and Contents Insurance
Save up to 25% when you purchase cover online.
  • Fire, storm, & theft damage: Yes
  • Rebuilding & repairs to your home: Yes
  • Accidental damage to home or belongings: Yes
  • Underinsurance protection: Yes
  • Full building replacement: No
Go to site More info
Home and Contents Insurance
Home and Contents Insurance
Save up to 20% when you purchase combined Home and Contents online.
  • Fire, storm, & theft damage: Yes
  • Rebuilding & repairs to your home: Yes
  • Accidental damage to home or belongings: Yes
  • Underinsurance protection: No
  • Full building replacement: No
Go to site More info

Picture: GettyImages

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Related Posts

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.

8 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    WarrenApril 2, 2019

    My insurer has had an inspection done after my house suffered from significant hail damage. Butthe scope of work doesnt cover a lot of stuff that needs to be fixed, some rooms have been neglected entirely (e.g. kitchen which had extensive flooding).

    Am I able to get a 3rd party assessor or someone to review the scope of work and put something back formally to the insurer?

    Thanks,
    Warren

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      NikkiApril 3, 2019Staff

      Hi Warren,

      Thanks for reaching out to Finder! A very important step in this process is to check the terms and conditions of your policy and see where you stand in this situation. Also, before letting a third party assessor review the scope of work on your house, it would be best to contact your insurer and see if it’s possible to have a reassessment since you were not satisfied with their initial assessment. During the process, you can ask them if they will allow a third-party assessor.

      Hope this helps!

      Best,
      Nikki

  2. Default Gravatar
    RobertSeptember 21, 2018

    On 2nd July my home was totally destroyed by fire. On 8th August the insurance company began getting quotes from their network of builders but it is now 22 September and i have had no word on my claim being processed. How long can it take ?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JohnSeptember 21, 2018Staff

      Hi Robert,

      Thank you for leaving a question.

      Insurers are required to comply with the General Insurance Code of Practice. Section 7.10 of the Code states that an insurer must decide to accept or deny your claim within 10 business days of receiving the claim. If the insurer decides it needs further information or an assessment to decide your claim, then the insurer must notify you within 10 business days of receiving the claim:

      What further information is required;
      If a loss assessor needs to be appointed; and
      An estimate of the time required to make a decision.

      You may send a letter of dispute or a complaint letter addressed to the insurance company to follow-up on your claim.
      Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

  3. Default Gravatar
    AdamApril 20, 2018

    In the event of a burglary where a window/door is damaged to enter the property and contents were stolen, where home & contents insurance is in place with the same insurer would only one excess be payable or would two excesses be applicable?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      NikkiApril 20, 2018Staff

      Hi Adam!

      Thanks for your message and for visiting finder – the leading comparison website & general information service built to give you advice in your buying decision needs. How are you doing today?

      Since there are separate policies for home = window/door damage and another contents insurance = for stolen contents then you would two (2) excess payables.

      Here are the steps on how to claim from your insurance provider:

      Step 1. Contact your insurance company via phone or online as soon as reasonably possible after the event occurs.
      Step 2. Fill out and submit a claim form. Many insurers allow you to do this online but you can also do it over the phone. You should receive a claim number once you submit your form.
      Step 3. The insurer will send a representative to your property to assess the damage, arrange any emergency repairs if necessary and obtain job quotes from their network of builders and repairers.
      Step 4. Once your claim has been processed your insurer will notify you of the outcome.
      Step 5. The insurer approved builder or repairer will contact you directly and work will commence as soon as possible.
      Step 6. When the job is complete, the insurer will pay the builder or repairer and you will be free to move back into your home.

      Hope this helps! Feel free to message us anytime should you have further questions.

      Cheers,
      Nikki

  4. Default Gravatar
    KhalilAugust 25, 2017

    Our insurance accepted the accidental fire damaged claim of our home garage. But the rebuilding has been delayed. The claim was accepted in January and still the building has not completed yet. Up to present, the builder has done maximum 50 present of the total job. We are frustrated with such delay because we need to sell this house, pay the mortgage and move to our second house. Therefore, we lost a lot of many because of this delay.
    I should be most grateful if you would advise me what course of action I should take and whether we are entitle to some compensation.
    Thanks,
    Khalil

    • Default Gravatar
      ArnoldAugust 25, 2017

      Hi Khalil,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      After you file a claim with your home insurance provider, an adjuster will usually visit your home and inspect the damage. He or she will decide how much the insurance company will pay toward your claim. Often, you’ll get an advance against the total amount your provider is paying. It would be best to recheck the terms and conditions of your insurance to fully know what eligible claims and compensations you may be entitled to.

      Hope this information helped.

      Cheers,
      Arnold

Ask a question
Go to site