Home insurance: what to do in the event of a home disaster?

29 March 2022
water damage, flooding, fire, theft, burglary

Have you just returned from holiday and noticed water seepage in your home? Or worse: someone has broken into your home and stolen your valuables?

Here is a guide to what to do in the event of a home disaster so that you can easily get a refund from your insurance company.

1. Record the damage and describe it accurately

Natural disasters, floods, water damage, electrical damage: disasters can happen overnight and cause a lot of damage to your flat or house.

In all claims, speed is the key The more you show that you are responsive, the more likely the insurance company will be to reimburse you quickly and to believe your good faith. If you take your time, the insurer may doubt your good faith. So don't waste your time.

As soon as you notice any damage in your flat:

  1. Take pictures of the damage with your phone (or any other camera). Don't forget any details. Remember to vary the angles: take some close-up photos, and some zoomed-in photos.
  2. Take action: This will help the insurance company to determine the extent of the damage. Take a measuring tape and measure the extent of the damage (e.g. the size of the puddle in case of flooding, the extent of the mouldy surface on the wall in case of seepage, etc.).
  3. List all damage on a document unique. Make a table indicating on each line :
    1. The room in the dwelling concerned by the damage (living room, kitchen, master bedroom, bathroom, etc.)
    2. The nature of the damage (puddles, mould, cracks...)
    3. The location of the damage (East wall, ceiling, floor near the window...)
    4. The extent of the damage (puddle of 50cm by 1m, mould of 20cm by 30cm, crack of 15cm high located at 1m from the ground, etc).

This will provide you with a complete and accurate document that you can present to your insurance company. The accuracy and clarity of the information will enable your insurance company to reimburse you more quickly for the damage suffered.

You can send this document the next day to prove your good faith, but first you need to define the type of disaster you have suffered and the type of cover and reimbursement you are entitled to.

Important: In the event of theft, burglary or break-in at home (broken door, broken window): contact the police immediately (113). The police can come to your home to assess the damage and take fingerprints to identify the thieves.

2. Define the type of home loss suffered

In order to determine what cover you are entitled to, you need to be able to identify the nature of the loss you have suffered and whether it is covered by your insurance.

First of all, determine the nature of the disaster among these categories generally covered by Luxembourg insurance:

  • Water damage : This refers to any type of damage caused by water infiltration (from a neighbouring flat or from the ground) or a burst pipe (drinking water, toilet, heating). If you notice mould along a wall or a large puddle in your home, your damage is probably related to water damage. In this case, consult your neighbours to find out whether they have a leak in their home in order to better assess the damage.
  • Theft or burglary : This is the most obvious one to qualify. In the case of a theft or burglary, someone has broken into your home and stolen your valuables (jewellery, electronic devices, multimedia, computers, smartphones, games consoles, television sets, etc.). Please note: for the loss to be covered by your insurance, there must be clear and obvious signs of a break-in: such as a broken door or broken windows. Take pictures of these signs to prove that it was a burglary. And always remember to lock your windows and front door when you leave your home.
  • Electrical damage : It is one of the most complicated claims to prove. Usually, many of your electronic devices will not turn on. If your TV has broken down, try turning on the appliances that were plugged in at the same time to see if it could be electrical damage. For example, try turning on your speaker, oven or washing machine. Next, ask your neighbours if they too are having problems with their appliances. If you have determined that other appliances and other residents are experiencing the same problem, it is probably electrical damage. The insurer will then contact the electricity supplier to find out if there were any power surges on the network.
  • Fire Like theft or burglary, fire is quickly determined. In most cases you will need to call the fire brigade who will come to the scene to put out the fire and make a damage report. The insurance will take over the claim from there.
  • Flooding : Flood damage is quite complicated. It should not be confused with water damage (due to seepage or burst pipes). Floods are the consequences of unusual climatic events: for example, torrential rains causing a stream to overflow in front of your home, resulting in flooding at your home or in your garage. Be aware that some insurance policies do not cover all flooding: some damage, such as overflowing pipes or sewage, is usually not covered.
  • Storms and hail : This includes all damage related to wind force (such as a tree falling on your house, outdoor furniture or a wall) and hail (if you notice impacts on your windows for example). Episodes of strong winds or hail are known and recorded by all Luxembourg weather platforms and media: it is therefore very easy to prove that a storm has caused the damage suffered.
  • Natural disasters : The state of natural disaster can only be declared by the Luxembourg State. This was the case during the floods in the summer of 2021 The Grand Duchy declared a state of natural disaster in view of the extent of the damage. This is the easiest disaster to prove since it is officially recognised by the public authorities. In the event of a natural disaster, insurance companies reimburse damages very easily. They can even offer you rehousing and reimbursement of cleaning work easily.

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3. Ensure that the disaster is covered by insurance

Before making your claim to the insurance company, make sure you are well covered against this risk. Otherwise, you may be disappointed with the insurer's response.

  • Read your insurance contract carefully (which should be in your mailbox) and check the claims covered.
  • If you cannot find your contract : ask your insurer. Call him or write him an e-mail, explain the situation. He will be able to answer you quickly.

Once you have determined the nature of the loss suffered, and if the loss is covered by your insurance, send an email to your insurer containing :

  • The document you drew up with the list of damages and precise measurements
  • Photos of the damage (attached)
  • Purchase invoices for damaged equipment and objects. If you no longer have the invoices, indicate the approximate value of the damaged items (you can find it by doing a purchase search on Google or Amazon)
  • A copy of your complaint to the policein case of theft or burglary in your flat or house

Namely, in the event of damage to the decency of your home.

If you have no electricity, no hot water, no heating or broken windows, you can ask to be rehoused while your accommodation is being restored. However, before booking a hotel room, call your insurance company and explain the situation. There are two options:

  • Either your insurance has a group of partner hotels: In this case, it will ask you to book a room in one of the hotels in its network. It will pay for the night's accommodation directly, since the insurance company has signed an agreement with the hotel to regulate the rates.
  • Either your insurance company does not have a hotel to recommend: in this case, ask them for the amount per night they reimburse. In general, this varies between 100€ and 120€ per night and per room. Once you have this information, you can make your reservations. Remember not to book too many nights: the insurance company will not reimburse you for any nights after your accommodation has been repaired.

If you don't follow these steps, the insurance company may refuse to reimburse you for your hotel nights. There are plenty of stories of Luxembourgers booking nights for 200€ or 300€ without having asked for the package reimbursed by their insurance. As a result, they are never fully reimbursed.

4. If you have a bad experience: change your insurance

In Luxembourg, there are very large differences between insurance companies. Some are known to cover very few risks, while others are known to offer very comprehensive cover. This is linked to the fact that there is little competition between insurers: they have no incentive to improve their prices or their guarantees.

If you haven't really compared insurance policies when you arrive in Luxembourg, you may be in for a nasty surprise when you make a claim, as some policies do not cover :

  • flood risks
  • theft or burglary
  • electrical damage
  • goods located outside your home (on your terrace or in your garden)

Fortunately, it is not too late to change your insurance. If you want to compare all coverages, you can do so by visiting this ranking of the best home insurance policies in Luxembourg.

Finally, to find out when and how to cancel your insurance in Luxembourg, see this article.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is an insurance disaster?

A disaster is an event beyond your control that causes you damage. If you suffer a loss, you can claim from your insurance company. However, this depends on the cover provided by your insurance contract.

What to do in the event of a home loss?

First of all: don't panic! Be methodical. If it is a theft or a burglary, call the police immediately, who will come to your home. If it is another incident (water damage, flooding, fire, electrical damage): take photos, measure the extent of the damage, describe the damage, add the purchase invoices for the damaged objects, and send this file to your insurance company. They may offer you a refund if this type of damage is covered by your policy.

What are the types of claims?

In the context of home insurance, there are several types of claims: water damage (the most common), theft and burglary, floods, fire, storms and hail, electrical damage, natural disasters and glass breakage. Not all losses are covered by all insurance policies. That is why it is important to compare them before signing a home insurance contract.

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