Industry expert Peter Reeve has a way of making reluctant insurers honour claims.
Ashvin Goyal faced every landlord's nightmare when a tenant used his property as a cannabis farm and left it uninhabitable.
"The kitchen was ripped out, the bathroom was ripped out," said Mr Goyal. "They had drilled holes everywhere and there was water damage."
He added: "As far as I knew there was only one tenant living there, who I had never met it was all done through an agent."
To make matters worse, his insurer said a malicious damage claim was not valid under the terms of his policy and it would accept a claim under "unauthorised alteration cover", which would pay out just £12,000.
Mr Goyal, 46, hired a chartered surveyor and solicitors to argue his case and eventually received more than £128,000 in 2012 two years after making the claim.
"I think every landlord wants to take out an insurance policy that covers them for every event. If something happens, you want to be able to sort it out as soon as possible and move on, because that's your living," said Mr Goyal, from Leicester. "I don't think I was treated fairly. Also, because the process took so long, the property deteriorated."
Equity Red Star, the insurer in the case, said: "We regret the delay the policyholder suffered but it was a very large loss and it was important that the correct decision was made.
"Hopefully this will serve as a reminder to other landlords to check very carefully the exact cover their policies provide for malicious or illegal acts caused by their tenants, as many policies give no cover for malicious damage by tenants and exclude any illegal activity."
Mr Goyal said: "Personally, I would instruct a loss adjuster straight away to deal with the claim. It is not something that an individual can do. You need professional help and you must have all your documents in order."
He is not alone among landlords and householders who have had to fight harder to get some claims paid out. Research by the British Insurance Brokers' Association (Biba) found that 90pc of brokers believed insurers were becoming stricter about paying claims, mainly because of the tough economic climate and fraud.
Nearly three quarters of the 206 brokers who responded said they had overturned a claim rejection by an insurer in the past year, while almost two thirds said they had had to fight harder to get claims paid.
The claim was supported by findings from the Financial Ombudsman Service, which handles disputes that cannot be resolved between the insurer and its customer.
In the past year the ombudsman has seen a 12pc increase in complaints about insurers. A report said: "We have continued to see tension between consumers' expectations and insurers' attempts to minimise their costs with an increasing proportion of cases being harder fought by both sides."
Malcolm Tarling from the Association of British Insurers said insurers remained "committed to ensuring that every genuine claim is paid as quickly and as fairly as possible".
He said: "Millions of customers rely on insurance to give them financial protection should the worst happen, and this is what the industry is geared up to do."
When faced with a large or complicated insurance claim, an insurer will often send out a loss adjuster, an independent claims specialist, to assess the situation.
If, however, the home owner is not happy with the loss adjuster's recommendations, they can hire their own representative to negotiate their case.
"If you get into a situation when a claim you have made is not going the way you want, the best thing to do is go to the CILA [Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters] and ask one to represent you," said Roger Flaxman, an insurance claims advocate at Flaxman Partners. "They know how the system works."
Loss adjusters tend to charge an hourly fee, rather than a percentage of the claim recovered.
Alternatively, home owners can hire an independent chartered surveyor who specialises in buildings. These professionals are a good source of knowledge and expertise.
Peter Reeve is a licensed chartered surveyor who also helps mediate insurance claims. He came to Mr Goyal's aid and has helped many other home owners with difficult claims.
He said: "I'm fighting for fairness. It is about getting what [the client] is fairly and reasonably entitled to, and getting the building back to the same standard it was before the incident."
Home owners can also avoid delays and non-payouts by taking care when they select their insurance.
Many problems stem from the increasing number of insurance policies sold online, with consumers making a decision on price and remaining unaware of what the policy covers.
Graeme Trudgill of Biba said: "Home insurance is complicated and, when people might just buy something quick and cheap online, they may not realise the depth of cover they have, what happens when you have a claim and what they may or may not be covered for."
Mr Reeve advised home owners to know exactly what their risks were and what their policy covered when they took insurance out (see box).
If you chose insurance through a broker, check if it will also represent you in the event of a claim.
Mr Trudgill said: "Brokers are the agent of the client and they will support the client through the process. They have the expertise and the knowledge to back you in complicated claims."
How to make your insurance policy watertight
• For more information on loss adjusters and chartered surveyors, visit cila.co.uk and rics.org
• When you arrange your insurance, make sure you know exactly what you need and what risks you have.
• Make sure you know what your insurance covers. There are different definitions within accidental damage, for example. If you think the form is not clear, ask your insurer or broker for more clarity.
• Disclose everything the insurer asks. If you have a criminal conviction, for example, and you don’t disclose the fact, it could invalidate your claim.
• Beware of underinsuring your property. There are likely to be penalties if you have clearly underinsured your home by a significant amount.
• The building’s insurance value should also include professional fees and alternative accommodation and cover VAT, removals, storage and returns in the event of a claim.
• Photograph your jewellery and furniture. Identify personal items worth more than specific limits, such as jewellery, antiques, stamps and coins.
• Make sure you have five-lever security locks, which are often required for home insurance, window locks that are fully operational and a burglar alarm that is installed and maintained by a contractor approved by Nacoss, the certification body.
• Get your home and contents valued every three to five years.
• Be honest. Fraud is a concern for insurers, especially with the rise of online applications.
• Check that there is a clause in your policy that covers gifts over the Christmas period, and an allowance for new goods over the course of the year.
• If you face a large claim, hire a professional to help negotiate on your behalf.