By Kevin Peachey Personal finance reporter
More than one in five home insurance claims is unsuccessful owing, in part, to the complexity of policies.
Confusion about what is covered by insurance policies is one of the reasons that policyholders fail to receive a payout.
Wear and tear, as well as damage caused by a lack of maintenance in homes are also key reasons for claims being rejected, an insurers’ group said.
In contrast, 99% of motor insurance claims result in a payout.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has published the industry-wide figures for the first time, after analysis of claims made during 2013 and 2014.
The success rate figures are based on 6.9 million claims handed by 19 insurers, including 4.3 million motor insurance claims, 1.8 million home insurance claims, and 800,000 travel insurance claims.
The analysis showed that 79% of home insurance policyholders who made a claim were successful, receiving a typical payout of £2,520.
Of those whose claims were turned down, some made claims that were valued below the policy excess and others had bought the wrong kind of cover. Many home insurance policies have add-ons that cover certain eventualities, but add extra complexity to renewals.
Many were denied due to a failure to maintain their property. For example, roof damage caused by a storm that affects numerous homes in an area is likely to be successful. Roof damage caused because previous faults had been left without the homeowner’s attention were less likely to succeed, the ABI said.
Policies were designed to cover “sudden, unexpected and accidental” events, an ABI spokesman said.
Travel insurance claims recorded a success rate of 87%, the ABI said, with an average payout of £884.
Reasons for rejection include failure to declare a pre-existing medical condition and failure to prove that belongings have been lost.
Image caption Motor insurance claims had a higher success rate
Motor insurance claims were successful in 99% of cases, with an average payout of £2,160. Cases and policies tended to be simpler, leading to fewer denied claims.
Huw Evans, ABI director general, said that the figures were published in order to gain greater trust from consumers.
“Contrary to popular belief, insurers want to pay honest claims. It helps nobody when customers have bought the wrong product or have not disclosed important information,” he said.
“So we will use the analysis we are publishing today to drive awareness campaigns to improve even further the acceptance rates for home and travel. Buying insurance should never just be about getting the cheapest price in the quickest time possible, it should be about ensuring you have the right product for your hour of need.”
The ABI suggested that people take time to read the terms and conditions when buying or renewing home insurance to check exactly what is covered.
Disputes between insurers and individuals that are unresolved often end up with the financial ombudsman.
In separate figures published on Tuesday, the Financial Ombudsman Service said there were 5,504 inquiries about buildings insurance from disgruntled customers between April and December last year. Some 38% of cases looked at by the ombudsman were upheld in the customers’ favour.
Cases were dwarfed by the 178,715 enquiries about payment protection insurance (PPI) received over the same period. In PPI cases, 70% were upheld in the customers’ favour.