Central heating boilers really take a pounding in cold weather, and breakdowns in winter months are common and expensive to fix.
Recent figures from uSwitch show that the average cost of repairing a boiler comes to £314 and in last year’s freezing winter more than 20% of homes experienced problems with heating systems.
Will your existing cover be enough?
But will your existing insurance be enough? The simple answer is probably not. Because boiler breakdown is so common, often due to poor attention being paid to maintenance, and expensive to fix, most insurers exclude it as standard from home insurance policies.
Usually, you have to buy what’s called ‘emergency home cover’ as an extra, or ‘add on’, to your policy. Fortunately, it often doesn’t cost much, perhaps only an additional £4 or £5 a month.
It can also be bought as a ‘stand-alone’, whether from your current provider, or another, but it’s usually more expensive to take out this way.
What sort of protection does emergency cover provide for boilers?
Emergency cover usually provides protection from the cost of repairing a boiler and sometimes the rest of the central heating system too.
Insurers offer a rapid response service, recognising how crucial a boiler can be, but cap the maximum pay out for call out charges at a certain sum, usually anywhere between £500 and £1,000.
Call out charges aside, home emergency insurance will also put a limit on the amount paid out for the subsequent necessary heating repairs, the limit including both parts labour.
Pay attention to the small print: What to watch out for
– Specialist boiler cover, which may include a free annual service and no maximum claim limit, or even a contribution towards a new boiler. If you add emergency cover to your current policy, rather than buy stand-alone cover, the chances are it won’t be as comprehensive.
– Check your boiler isn’t too old. Most insurers which offer emergency cover will stipulate that a home’s boiler can’t be more than between 10 and 15 years old.
– Emergency cover, unlike many specialist boiler cover policies, generally includes other heating and water system problems such as burst pipes and blocked drains, as well as home electrical failures.
– Check that your boiler cover is all-year round. Some policies only cover you for the winter months, and not May to August, as a boiler breaking down in these months wouldn’t constitute an ‘emergency’.
– Pay attention to the maximum repair costs allowed. Some cheaper policies have fairly low maximums, as low as £150 for example. You might not envisage anything going wrong with your heating system and are fine with such a low sum, but it could prove a costly oversight.
– Regular boiler servicing may be a condition of the policy and most often it’s required annually. If you don’t get your boiler serviced regularly, you’ll probably find your cover is void.
Our dedicated customer service team is always on hand to help – either online or over the phone. Whether you want assistance in finding the right policy or even handling a claim, we make sure it’s all handled by experts. For more information, you can call our experts on 0330 0600 600 or visit www.policyexpert.co.uk/contact for more ways to reach us.
Published 11 November 2013