How to get your claim processed painlessly

by Adrian Waters

Once you've insured your caravan we hope your ownership is trouble-free. But should something happen, your insurance is there to compensate, and the more easily that the claim can be processed the better it is for you and the insurance company. So here are our top ten tips to help claims go smoothly.

1. Tell your insurer everything

This is the major sources of complaints about claims not going well. When an insurance company discovers that something about your caravan, or you, or the location where it's stored, does NOT match up with their records, they will consider it grounds to refuse a claim straight off.

So if ANYTHING changes about you, your caravan or your equipment, you must tell your insurer immediately.

2. Record everything about your caravan

Keep all paperwork, receipts and the like, so that you can prove that you really do own your insured items and can verify their value. It will save time and trouble when making a claim.

3. A picture paints a thousand words

It's not required by law, but a photographic record of your caravan and other insured items is invaluable if processing a claim. It can help to prove the condition and quality of an item as well as backing up ownership.

With digital cameras now so cheap and smartphones having cameras as standard, this is much easier to do than it was ten years ago. But make sure you put copies of those photos on a DVD or CD in case you have a problem with your camera or upgrade your phone.

4. Look at the limits to your cover

When you set up your insurance the value of the caravan is stated, then there are limits for your other possessions and equipment related to the 'van that you can choose. There will usually be two types of limit - an overall maximum for the total amount of possessions that can be claimed, then individual limits for individual items. For example if you specify £5000 as the overall limit for possessions, with an individual per item limit at £250, then a laptop, for example, worth £450, won't be fully covered. If you put in a claim that comes to less than the £5000 overall limit, the laptop will still be subject to the £250 individual item limit.

With touring caravans, and some static caravans that aren't permanent homes, it's worth checking to see if these more expensive items will be covered by a household contents insurance policies while they are in your 'van.

5. Get fully covered

Leading on from that point, you can set the cover limits for additional equipment and possessions when you take out a policy (and, of course, change it during the life of a policy should you change your caravan or equipment). Generally speaking the lower the limits the cheaper your policy will be, but remember that if you are unfortunate enough to be hit by a fire, theft or damage, that you might not be able to claim enough money to cover like-for-like replacements.

6. Speed is of the essence

Should you be unfortunate enough to need to make a claim, act quickly. You will get compensated faster and be able to replace or repair your items more quickly, but also the faster you do the paperwork the more likely you are to remember vital details.

7. Put everything in writing

Claim forms are still done on paper, for the most part, but follow up conversations might be done over the phone. If they are, make sure you note down the name of the person you spoke to, what was said and the time and date. This could be invaluable if there's confusion later on.

8. Record any crime

Where you've suffered from a criminal act - arson, malicious damage or theft, you must report it to the police and get a record of the report. We know that sometimes there's not a lot the police can do but insurance companies will almost certainly want a copy of the report as a way to ensure that a crime did take place.

9. Don't lose your head

Sometimes insurance companies will dispute claims, valuations or other aspects of claims. It can be annoying but they are more cautious these days because fraudulent claims are much more common, and they cost us all money. If your insurer does dispute something about a claim, do your best not to get angry with them. Call centre personnel are nearly always instructed to hang up if customers get aggressive or abusive, and you need to keep them on your side. Do your best to restate your points calmly and firmly, but if you aren't getting through, ask for a manager or supervisor.

10. Make your own luck

Of course, the smoothest claims to process are the ones you don't have to make at all. There's little you can do if someone commits arson, damage or theft to your possessions, but incidents of accidental fire and other mishaps can be minimised by following safety instructions and taking care.

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