28th March, 2017

How long will my insurance claim take and when will they pay me?

Insurance companies often get a bad rap for not paying claims or at least dragging their feet and seeming to make our lives difficult. As an insurance broker we have helped our clients settle many thousands of insurance claims and the reality is the majority of claims are settled quickly and painlessly. It is true that some claims will be complicated and take time to work through but these make up a small number of total claims lodged. Small simple claims can be settled quickly and stress free if some basic steps are followed.

A recent publication by one of Australia’s large insurers detailed the most common issues that cause delays to resolving claims*. The list clearly shows where claims do go ‘bad’ so I will address each of these and explain how you can avoid them.

1. Underlying cause is different to clients perception

The trigger for any claim is the cause of damage or loss. If you don’t know you will need to find out, the insurance company can’t tell you if you have a claim until you know what caused the actual damage. Sometimes the cause will not be obvious so you will need to get a tradesperson or specialist to inspect the damage and provide a report, often they will be able to provide a quote for repairs at the same time.

When getting quotes for repair / replacement it is usually best to get two quotes. The key reason for this is that there are still many trades people that will take advantage of unsuspecting customers and inflate their repair quotes. This often happens when the repairer realises it might be an insurance claim. However, there needs to be an understanding that ultimately by doing this they are doing the client a major disservice and not the insurer. Insurers know what the normal or “reasonable” repair costs are for most types of jobs, if the repairer can’t justify the costs they have charged the insurer won’t pay all of the bill leaving you to pick up the tab.

Getting two quotes makes it hard for the insurer to reduce your claim payment on the basis of inflated costs.
Always ask the repairer to provide a detailed quote which includes the cause of the damage, this will help substantiate your claim with the insurer and rapidly speed up your claim.

2. Lack of early mitigation strategies (contain the damage)

When something unexpected happens causing damage to your property usually, and understandably, there will be a sense of panic which makes it more difficult to plan the best course of action. Having insurance in place will relieve some of the panic as instantly you know that the costs involved should be recoverable. However it is important at this point to remember that the insurer will expect you to look after their interests in the same way you would your own if you were not insured.

The first step is to contain the damage, if there is potential for further damage to occur you need to take steps to avoid them and your policy will cover these costs. You can find emergency repairers on our websites that are familiar with insurance repairs and will understand the insurance companies’ requirements which usually means a faster claim. Some examples of containing the damage are

– a plumber to stop a burst pipe
– a builder to put a tarp over an exposed roof
– a carpet cleaner to extract water
– moving stock & contents away from a damaged area
– start cleaning up

One the damage is contained, you can begin the claim process. This is a good time to take photos of the damage. In the world of iPhones it only takes a moment to record quality images / video of your damaged property and these can be provided as part of your claim.

When getting quotes for repair / replacement it is always best to get two quotes, if you weren’t insured you would mostly likely do this to ensure you are paying a fair price, the insurer will want to see that you give them the same opportunity. Always ask the repairer to provide a detailed quote which includes the cause of the damage, this will help substantiate your claim with the insurer and rapidly speed up your claim.

Always obtain quotes for the same item or to repair to an equivalent level as prior to the damage. The intention of insurance is always to put you in the same position you were before the loss not to put you in a better position (you need to buy a lotto ticket for that!).

For some claims you will be asked to provide proof of ownership of the item/s you are claiming – namely contents and stock items. The preferred way to prove ownership is by way of an original purchase receipt, however if you do not have one, there are a number of other methods available for example; photos, instruction manual, asset register, etc.

For theft claims report your loss and obtain a police report number.

3. Delays in clients providing the necessary documentation to progress the claim

All insurance claims will require some level of paperwork, but this is usually not onerous, and for most claims if you follow steps one and two you will have most of the necessary documentation required. Claim forms for most claims are available on our website and can be completed quickly online.

4 & 5. Unrealistic expectations of policy coverage and Inadequate Sums insured

Using an insurance brokers means that these two points are less likely to happen. Your insurance broker is there to help you understand what you are covered for and what you are not, if in doubt ring your broker and discuss. You should review your insurance, and in particular, your sums insured at regular intervals, don’t set and forget as you will quickly find you become underinsured which can have a dramatic effect on any claim payment.


A large percentage of insurance claims are settled in under a week. The above steps will help ensure your claim is settled as quickly as possible. At the very start of your insurance claim think about what you would do if you actually weren’t insured and had to pay for the repairs yourself. Doing this will normally speed up your claim considerably as the claims officer will see the steps you have taken that allows them to sign off your claims payment as being fair and reasonable for you and the insurance company.
Some insurance claims can be very complicated, if you are in doubt or need assistance, we are always there to help guide you through the process and achieve the desired outcome.

*Source – Calibre Insurance ‘Most common issues found by a loss adjuster’ – November 2016

Author: Murray Bruce