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What are home and contents insurance claims?

You would make a home and contents insurance claim when your home or belongings inside have been unexpectedly damaged, destroyed, lost or stolen. The payout from your claim will cover the cost of repairing or replacing these items.

Remember though that terms and conditions vary between insurers, so it’s important to know exactly what your policy covers. This is because, when it comes to claim time, your home insurer might rely on the fine print to knock back or limit your claim. If this happens, get in touch with your local Maurice Blackburn office and find out how our expert team of home insurance lawyers can help.

We’ve helped many Australians succeed with their home insurance claims, and in our experience even a rejected claim can still win.

What do home and contents insurance claims cover?

In most cases, home and contents insurance covers damages from natural disasters — including floods, earthquakes, cyclones, fires, bushfires and accidental fires — and the financial cost of repairing or replacing structural damage, like damp ceilings from water leaks or plumbing fixtures and fittings, as well as personal items and household furnishings, such as:

  • Washing machine
  • Fridges
  • Flooring
  • Kitchen cupboards
  • Hot water heater
  • Electronic devices and appliances
  • Clothing
  • Jewellery
  • Furniture
  • Decor

The items and damage your particular policy covers will depend on the level of cover you have as well as the terms and conditions in your policy. Check your policy to find out if you have coverage for these three common events and items that may be important to you:

  1. Defined events If you read that your policy offers this level of cover, your belongings will only be insured if they are lost through a defined event like a fire or burglary.

  2. Accidental damage
    If your policy covers your home and contents in the event of accidental damage, you can make a claim if you accidentally break or even stain your belongings that are insured.

  3. Valuable items
    If you have valuable items in your home, it’s usually best to specify how much you want to insure them for. This is because, many home and contents policies have limits on how much you can claim for certain items. For example, your insurer might only pay you out $500 for an unlisted piece of jewellery, even if it would cost you $10,000 to replace.

    So, as soon as you acquire a valuable item that will be in your home, remember to contact your insurer and ask them to insure your item separately for its proper value. You should also keep receipts and photograph the items. That way your valuable item will be covered if it is ever damaged, lost or stolen.

Remember that every home and contents policy is different so before you lodge a claim, contact Maurice Blackburn to find out how we help you understand what you’re covered for.

What is the home and contents insurance claim payout? 

There are a few main factors that will impact the size of your home insurance claim payout, including:

  • The unique fine print in your policy
    Terms and conditions vary between insurers and policies, but our expert home insurance lawyers can help you navigate and understand the exact wording in your unique policy.

  • The value of your belongings and any maximum limits for certain items
    For example, if a flood destroys a $2000 camera but the limit for electronic devices is $1,000 you would have to pay the difference to replace it.

  • The extent of damage
    Your insurer usually has the right to decide whether your home insurance claim is settled with a:
    • Cash payout
    • Repair
    • Replacement

If a damaged item can be repaired easily and economically your insurer will likely repair it. If it’s expensive to repair or it’s damaged beyond repair, they will probably replace it with a new one.

If your insurer flat out refuses to pay out your claim by quoting the fine print in your policy, don’t panic. Get in touch with us today and our experienced home and contents insurance lawyer can help you understand exactly what you’re entitled to and make sure you get every last cent you’re owed.

Why Maurice Blackburn?

When your home is damaged or destroyed, even the simplest of everyday tasks can be stressful, let alone taking on large, intimidating insurance companies. Maurice Blackburn is here to listen, fight and give you peace of mind when it comes time to claim or dispute a rejected claim.

Our team of home insurance lawyers can support you through every step of the claim process. We can help you:

  • Find out if you have a valid claim
  • Understand the fine print in your policy
  • Follow your insurer’s strict claim requirements and meet any time limits
  • Get you the result you deserve
  • Minimise the amount of stress you go through

We even offer 'no win, no fee'* arrangements for these types of cases. wThis means that you don’t pay if we don't win. We also employ home insurance claim lawyers across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin and throughout Australia.

Contact us today to find out how we can take the tension out of your home insurance claim.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I covered for bushfires or earthquakes?

Yes, usually. However, some won't cover smoke damage or any damage not caused by flames.

Am I covered for home insurance if my property is destroyed?

You are only covered if you have replacement cover in your policy – some policies have fixed price cover which might not be enough depending on your situation.

How is my policy renewed?

Your insurer must notify you in writing when the next premium is due to renew your policy. If you don't pay the next premium, your policy will lapse. Your insurer must notify you if this happens.

What is my duty of disclosure?

If your policy is a ‘consumer insurance contract’ entered into after on or after 5 April 2021, you have a duty to take reasonable care not to make a misrepresentation to an insurer when you take out or renew your insurance policy. That includes a duty to truthfully answer questions they ask.

Otherwise, you also have to tell the insurer anything that might be relevant to whether they will cover you. This is called a duty of disclosure. If you don't, your insurer might try not to deny your claim, although often with our help we can ensure you receive payment.

When can I claim home insurance?

Claiming as soon as you’re ready is your best bet. Proving your claim is much easier when the loss or damage has happened recently. However, even if it’s been a long time since the damaging event, Maurice Blackburn can still help you claim.

Can I claim home insurance on a rental property?

If you are living in a rental property you can buy low-cost renter’s insurance policies instead of home and contents insurance. A renter’s insurance can cover your belongings as they aren’t covered by your landlord’s insurance policies.

Can I have two home insurance claims in one year?

You can file as many home insurance claims as you need in any one year however, the more claims you make, the higher premium your insurers will charge you going forward. This is usually because they gauge that there has become a higher risk of damage to your home.

How long does it take to claim home insurance?

Your insurer should respond to your claim within 10 business days and let you know if they have accepted, denied or need more information based on the details you provided.

This 10 day turn around may not be possible if your claim is due to a natural disaster like a flood or bushfire and most of your community is also affected. In cases that involve a large number of claims at once the General Insurance Code of Practice usually allows insurers up to 12 months to make a decision.

Is there a time limit to claim home insurance?

There often isn't a statutory strict time limit when it comes to filing a home insurance claim in Australia Depending on your policy wording, time limits can vary from 30 days to more than one year, however claims should be notified as early as possible.

What can I do if my home insurance claim is denied?

If your claim has been denied, you can do one of a few things, including:

Contact Maurice Blackburn
Our home insurance lawyers are experts in making insurance companies pay valid claims even if they try to reject them initially.

Contact the insurer’s complaints department
By providing new evidence and information it may be possible to overturn the denial.  Complaint should be put in writing to ensure they are escalated.

Raise a dispute with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)
The AFCA’s decision is binding on your insurer. This means if AFCA decides your insurer has to pay you then they must.  You don’t have to accept the AFCA’s decision if it goes against you and might still be able to go to court.
Note: there are important time limits for going to AFCA which we can advise you about.

Take your claim to Court
If you choose to take your claim to tribunal or court, it’s a good idea to get expert legal advice from Maurice Blackburn’s team of home insurance lawyers to ensure you succeed.
Note: there are important time limits for going to AFCA which we can advise you about.

Can my family and friends claim home insurance?

Not usually, no. Home and contents insurance policies don’t usually cover items that friends or family bring into your home. The only exception is if you have listed their names on your policy.

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Our insurance claim lawyers are experienced in winning fair compensation for our clients on a no win, no fee basis.

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