One-fifth of household insurance claims are rejected, according to recent figures revealed by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
Given the recent stormy weather this could be of considerable concern to farmers who may have suffered flood and wind damage.
So how can you make sure your insurance will pay out when it matters?
According to the ABI report, the main reasons for a claim failing are wear and tear or damage caused by a lack of maintenance; the claim value being below the policy excess; and not having bought the right cover.
Given farmhouses are often older buildings with extensive outbuildings, it is very common farmers fail to purchase sufficient cover, said Tim Price, spokesman for NFU Mutual.
“Three-quarters of the private homes our valuations partner assessed in 2015 were under-insured,” he warned. “In these circumstances, homeowners may find themselves in financial difficulty in the event of a major fire or severe flood, as their insurance policy may pay out only a proportion of the cost to re-build the property.”
The December floods and storms led to 2,747 NFU Mutual claims at a total cost of £53.2m, said Mr Price.
“As a rough guide, an average storm claim is about £10,000, and an average flood claim about £20,000,” he said.
Of course, some claims are considerably higher than that, so it is important to get it right as the losses could be considerable.
“When you are taking out building insurance for your home, it is important the property value accurately reflects the cost of rebuilding from scratch and not its market value,” said Mr Price.
It is the same concept with home contents cover – it should include the full replacement cost of electrical goods, furniture and furnishings, including those which have been inherited.
“Take pictures of your most valuable items, especially any serial numbers or maker’s signatures, to help with identifying items for valuation purposes, or should they be stolen and then recovered later.”
In some cases the insurer will reduce the payout by the percentage that a house and contents are under-insured – so if they are only insured for 70 per cent of the total value then any claim will be reduced to 70 per cent of its full amount. It is therefore important to check the wording of any policy before taking it out.
In the event of a claim, it is important to be honest and open with the insurance firm.
Report any thefts to the police, as failure to do so will mean items will never be returned should they be recovered. In the case of flood or storm damage, keep people and stock safe by turning off electricity or gas supplies and avoid contaminated water or dangerous debris.
“And it is worth gathering evidence of your accounts so your insurer can make progress with interim payments to keep your cash flow going," added Mr Price.
If business interruption cover is included, this can help with paying salaries while the business is out of action, recovering loss of profits and increased costs of working.