The insurance claim process
This article was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated.
- Making an insurance claim can be a stressful time
- We take you through the insurance claim process, so you know what to expect, from start to finish
- Remember, we’re here to help you get back to the position you were in before the event happened
When life doesn’t go to plan, for example, after an extreme weather event or accident, making a claim on your insurance policy can be the moment you truly experience the benefit of insurance.
But making a claim can be confusing – so we’ve stepped out the process, so you know just what to expect.
How to make an insurance claim
When you make an insurance claim, it’s because you’ve faced loss or damage from an event. We’re here to help you get back on your feet.
“The best thing you can do is contact your insurer as soon as possible,” says QBE General Manager of Short Tail Claims, Arron Mann.
“We can give you advice on what to do next.”
“We understand it’s hard to remember the process during a time of stress, whether you’ve been involved in a car accident or after an incident at your home. Contact us as soon as possible and we’ll guide you through the process.
“We keep an electronic copy of all policies, so don’t panic if you can’t find your policy documents. If you bought insurance through a broker, they should have your details handy too.”
What to do when you need to claim
Stay safe and contact the authorities if necessary
Personal safety is the most important concern after an unexpected incident. For example, a damaged building can be dangerous, so if your property or the area surrounding it isn’t safe, don’t try to enter unless it’s been declared okay to do so by safety authorities.
If you’ve had a car accident, make sure it’s safe to get out of your car and stay on the side of the road or get to a safe spot.
Read your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS)
If you have time, check your PDS, which includes helpful information about what your policy covers – and what it doesn’t. But don’t worry too much about this – we’ll help you every step of the way.
Contact your insurer immediately
It’s important to make contact as soon as possible and have as much information as you can handy. Claims are best lodged over the phone so they can be processed straight away. We keep an electronic copy of all policies so if you can't find yours, don't worry.
Give as much information as possible
When you lodge an insurance claim, you’ll need to provide some details. The most common types of information and documents include:
- Lists of items damaged, lost or stolen
- Police report number
- Valuation report
- Photos or videos of the event, property damage or items
- Product makes, models and serial numbers
It’s worth writing down details of the incident right after it happened, when it’s fresh in your mind. That way, you’ll probably remember the smaller details.
“Once you’ve contacted your insurer and the claim is lodged, we review all the details you’ve provided and check your policy covers you for the circumstances of your claim,” Mann says.
“Depending on the type and extent of damage, we’ll send the appropriate QBE Preferred Supplier to inspect the damage, so we understand what’s needed to get your claim resolved.
“From there, we’ll know whether the damages can be repaired, or we need to pay you the value of the damaged item if the repair costs exceed the value of the item.”
Working with an insurance assessor and external experts
Some claims are complicated, so we may need the help of an insurance assessor (also known as a loss adjuster).
“The role of an insurance assessor is to review the circumstances of your claim and assess the loss and its total value,” Mann explains.
The assessor may need to come to your home, so they can advise us on your situation and help us settle your claim.
Sometimes, we may also need to get an external expert to provide specialist advice – for example, reviewing your loss, damage, or the circumstances of your claim.
They help us decide on your claim outcome or provide advice on the best way to manage or resolve your claim. Common types of external experts we use include:
- Specialist loss adjusters and assessors
- Building consultants
- Forensic investigators
- Accident reconstructionists
- Forensic accountants
Quotes for the scope of works
Mann says an essential part of the claims process is working with your insurer, who will agree on the work needed. This includes quotes for the repairs or replacement of property or belongings after the damage.
“This step is critical because once we understand what’s required – including costs – we can start the work to return our customer to the situation they were in before the incident,” he adds.
Using QBE’s Preferred Suppliers
We have an established panel of licensed builders, restorers, repairers and assessors to help our customers when they need it most.
“Insurance companies deal with tradespeople on a daily basis, so we understand who to contact to do the work for you, whether it be builders, plumbers, smash repairers or other professionals,” Mann says.
“We have contractual obligations with our suppliers to ensure we see the right outcomes for customer service, the quality of repairs and the cost so we can control premiums,” he adds.
Repairs, total loss and cash settlements
Once quotes and the full scope of work has been agreed, the tradespeople can begin work on an agreed start date for repairs.
“In some situations, the cost of the repairs will exceed the value of the item, whether it be your car or your property.
“In this case, we’d pay the total loss value, which will be either the agreed value on your policy or the market value that’s determined by the loss adjuster,” Mann explains.
This is the stage of the process when cash settlements can be discussed with your claim handler. If we offer a cash settlement under a home building policy, we’ll give you information on how cash settlements work and how decisions are made.
“The preference is for us to manage all aspects of your repairs, so you can avoid worrying about the financial side which can be stressful,” he adds.
The importance of your sum insured
Your sum insured is a value that should be consistent with replacing your entire home, in case of total loss. If you’re not insured at today’s values, you may be underinsured.
“Too often, we find people underestimate the importance of their sum insured and take shortcuts to achieve a lower premium. But this can leave people exposed to being underinsured in a crisis,” says Mann.
“An accurate sum insured comes down to valuing your home and your belongings correctly.
“When calculating your sum insured, make sure you consider the replacement costs of items and fixtures, preparing land and foundations, and understanding costs must be new for old at today’s prices.
To help our customers work out their sum insured, we’ve built calculators to help you determine how much insurance you need.
It’s also important to consider costs that may not be obvious. For example, removing debris could add 10-15 per cent to your sum insured.
“Some policies automatically account for inflation for your sum insured but it’s best not to rely on this as your sole safeguard,” Mann says.
Another tip is to speak to a reputable builder and get a current quote for the cost of a complete rebuild of your home.
We’re here to help when you make an insurance claim
“We understand you’re often only contacting an insurance company when something bad has happened. But remember, we’re here to help and it’s our job to make the claims process as smooth as possible,” says Mann.
“There’s no shame if there’s something you don’t understand, as we’ll explain it to you. We do this every day and hopefully, you don’t have to go through this process too often.”
“Once we hear from you, we coordinate a tailored course of action using resources to deliver the best outcome possible,” he concludes.