Tips to make sure your home insurance claims will be paid

You hope you never need it, but if you do, it pays to be prepared when it comes to home insurance.

It can be a costly mistake to make a claim, only to have your application knocked back because your policy was voided. Here’s our guide to making sure your home insurance policy is in shipshape.

Renew your policy

It seems obvious, but is your policy up to date? It’s the simple things that often end in the biggest tragedies, so forgetting to renew your home insurance policy could be a sad tale indeed.

Also, don’t forget to insure a property as soon as you buy it. A work colleague settled on a house on a Friday and it burnt down on the Monday, but he had insurance, so even a truly awful situation like that ended with a new home.

Failing to maintain your home

Don’t like cleaning gutters? I mean, who does? But if you make a claim and the assessors judge that you have not maintained your home to a level where the damage could have been prevented, you could be in trouble.

So, clean out those gutters and downpipes, check for any broken roof tiles and chop away any overhanging trees.

Also on the insurers’ hit list is fixing any rising damp or mould, holes in the walls and damaged steps.

Smoke alarms

This one’s a no-brainer. Regularly check your smoke alarms to see they are working and replace the batteries.

It’s a good idea to replace the batteries at an annual set time – perhaps the end of the financial year or Christmas – so you don’t lose track of when you did them last.


If you grew up like I did, with the back door opened to anyone who cared to stroll in because it would be rude to use the front door, which of course was also open, it’s time to break that habit.

Check all your locks are working, even on windows, and if you have moved into a new property, it might be worth splurging on getting them replaced. A lot of people go through a house when it’s put on the market – agents, tradies, potential buyers – so apart from the insurance angle, it may be reassuring to replace all the locks for your own peace of mind.

If you have been burgled and the insurance assessor finds evidence you have left your home unsecured, you may struggle to win your claim.

You need to call the fuzz pronto

If you have been burgled or there has been damage done to your house such as a vandalised fence that you want to make a claim on you must call the police as soon as possible.

Cleaning up a bit, or waiting until it’s more convenient won’t help your claim. Your insurance company is likely to expect a police report about the incident. And it probably won’t just take your word for it, and will review with suspicion a claim made a few days after the incident.

Leaving your home unoccupied

Going on a long holiday? That sounds like fun. Facing an extended period in hospital? Less fun, but you may need to tell your insurer either way.

If you are going to vacate your primary residence for any reason for an extended length of time, you probably need to tell your insurance provider.

Each policy differs, but in general if your property is unoccupied for more than 60 days you may not be covered for home insurance.

Insurers view an unoccupied home as a dangerous home as there is no-one there to keep an eye on things and the level of risk for vandalism, theft and weather damage increases.

They have a point. Imagine if an internal pipe burst while you were eagerly perusing the cocktail menu at a beachside resort three countries away? How long until it is fixed and how much damage could it cause in the meantime? If you were there, it could be sorted in an hour or so. If you are in another time zone it could be days or weeks.

The good news is you can buy additional cover for any extended period of time away. Contact your insurers to discuss your options or include it in your next policy.

Proof at claim time

Some of your personal possessions are also your favourites, but just because you know your rare one-off Ming porcelain exists, doesn’t mean your insurer is going to take your word for it.

Claims assessors need to see proof, it makes them happy.

Either list any valuable items separately on the policy or be prepared to have evidence you bought it. Receipts, pictures, bank statements, valuation certificates, certificates of authenticity, or even the box it came in, can all back up your claim.

If it doesn’t work out

If you are not happy with your insurer’s decision on your claim, you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA). However, the AFCA process can take time. If you are concerned about ongoing damage while the complaint is being heard, seek legal advice first.

Have you ever had to make a claim on your home insurance? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Home insurance keeps going up. What can you do?

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. If you rent your property, please contact your property manager and make them aware of the need for maintenance outside the property.
    I’ve been ‘butting my head against a brick wall’ for over 9 months now, just to get the gutters cleaned on the block & carport, AND the ‘weed’ that’s been planted as a tree (it has many ‘trunks’. I’ve seen them before at another property I’ve lived at in another city, having to be removed as they’re in ‘pest’ status) at the front of the block of units, and leaves, etc not being cleaned up. I’ve also advised them that the path from the back to the front (around unit 1) of the units and the electricity meters is ‘buckled’ due to the roots of the tree burrowing under the path, and making it unusable.
    I really pity the poor electricity meter reader when he/she comes to read them. It’s really a WHS hazard, and they still won’t do anything about it.
    I’d really like to put my garbage bins behind my unit, but due to the sorry state of the footpath, I can’t, as I don’t want to have an ‘accident’. I know that if I did, I could sue strata, but they could ‘knock it back’ saying that I took the initiative and put my bins at the back, and they could say that I knew the possibility of having said ‘accident’. You just can’t win. PS, this is the first place I’ve rented in my 50+ years of renting that the garbage bins are all at the front of the units. The bins of the units opposite are all at the back, and they have clear access to the front, not like ours.

- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -