Insurance policy small print – tips on avoiding a disputed claim

Posted Apr 17, 2019.

One of the least popular financial products consumers buy is insurance. Whilst compulsory for cars and other motor vehicles, there is a wide range of other insurance policies available covering  everything from your home to your pets. It’s probably fair to say that most consumers find insurance at best simply boring, at worst extremely confusing – not to mention expensive. Because of this, many policyholders are often unaware of what their particular policies cover. There is often a range of cover available for what you want to insure, and each level of cover will typically have different exclusions and loopholes should you need to make a claim on your policy. To help avoid a future dispute with your insurer over a claim, we’ve summarised some of the most usual clauses and exclusions.

House Contents Insurance

The important thing here when taking out contents insurance is to make sure that you don’t ‘under-insure’. This means that you must take out – and pay for – enough cover for the complete value of the contents in your home. Should you need to make a claim and you haven’t taken out the correct level of cover, insurers will ‘average’ your claim and you will typically only receive a portion of the claim value based on the level of cover you have. For example, if you have £10,000 of contents but have only insured for £5,000, your claim payment is likely to be reduced to half the claim value. It is also important to tell insurers of the total number of bedrooms in your home, even if one or more of them is being used for something else (eg: a home office), as many contents policies use this as part of their premium calculations and again, if you have given them incorrect information, they are likely to reduce a claims payment accordingly.

Car & Motor Insurance

We have seen motor insurance claims refused or reduced for a number of reasons that most policyholders would probably not consider. Giving your insurer an accurate record of previous claims is one, particularly when declaring who was ‘at fault’ in an accident. Whilst you may not think you were at fault, if a previous claim was settled on a split pay-out basis between 2 or more insurance companies, even if it was on a 50-50 basis, this will still be considered as an ‘at fault’ claim. You should also be clear about your cars’ usage – for example, if you are using it to drive to work, you must tell your insurer, even if it is a very short journey. Also make sure that your car is properly maintained, with tyres that at least meet the minimum legal requirement, and when driving in winter make sure your windows and lights are clear from obstruction; any of these factors may be considered by your insurer as a contributory factor in the event of an accident, which could have big implications for a claim on the policy.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can be amongst the easiest to take out, but often result in the biggest confusion and disappointment should you need to make a claim. It goes without saying that you must declare all relevant medical conditions to your insurer, as rejected claim for medical care abroad could have huge financial implications. It’s also worth checking your cover for flight cancellations, as this is often an optional extra on top of the more standard holiday cancellation clauses.

Pet Insurance

Again, cover for pets is usually pretty easy to take out but there are often a wide range of cover options available at differing premium levels, so it’s important to select the cover that best suits your pet and its age. As well as excluding cover for pre-existing / pre-diagnosed conditions, many pet policies also have clauses affecting claims for ‘bilateral conditions’ – injuries or conditions that can affect both sides of your pet’s body. A classic example of such an exclusion is for knee injuries / degenerative conditions in dogs; you may be ok to claim for one knee, but should the other side also need treatment and therefore a claim, this may be excluded.

Professional help with Insurance Disputes

At Bakers Solicitors, disputed insurance claim cases are dealt with on a no win, no fee basis. There is no upfront or unexpected costs, so if you feel you have been treated unfairly by an insurance company please contact us today for friendly and professional assistance. You can contact us by email, arrange a free consultation online or ring us on FREE on 0800 731 7284.