From time to time, things go wrong in a home which could be classed as an ‘emergency’ and which can be very hard to deal with and remedy. These range from a boiler breaking down in mid-winter to having your keys stolen along with proof of address so that you need to quickly change your locks. But having home emergency Cover could help if something does go wrong.
This is why home insurers offer home emergency insurance; the better policies will ensure you’ll have a 24-hour hotline to call and immediate financial help and assistance if things go wrong.
It’s not all plain sailing though, as cover levels vary, and exclusions apply.
How can I buy emergency cover?
Some home insurance policies (usually the more expensive ones) come with emergency cover as standard, but most don’t.
Your choice is to either buy it as a stand-alone policy, or as an ‘add on’ to your existing cover. The route you choose will largely depend on the type of emergency protection your current insurer can provide, how much it costs and if it’s acceptable to you.
You need to ask yourself what you’re most worried about going wrong, and the likelihood of it happening (you might have just bought a new home, with new heating system and certain guarantees, for example), and if you feel confident you would be able to sort out any problems using your own knowledge and local contacts, and the type of emergency service you want from an insurer.
Cost of Cover
The most expensive stand-alone policies can set you back up to £500 a year, while the cheapest only cost £35. It largely depends on the level of cover and assistance you want.
Adding on cover to your existing policy can be the most cost-effective way of buying emergency insurance, but you need to check what you get and if you’re happy with it for the price.
Are you already covered?
To an extent, with nearly all home insurance policies you’re already covered for the potential costs involved with ‘emergencies’ such as damage caused by storms and flooding.
However, there are plenty of emergencies which ordinary cover won’t be able to help you with; this is especially the case when considering the immediate impact an emergency can have.
The situations emergency cover would typically provide immediate assistance for include:
- The sudden and unexpected failure of your electricity or gas supply.
- Damage to your home’s plumbing and drainage systems which causes water damage; this might be from leaking pipes and radiators, blocked drains and water tanks.
- The sudden and complete failure and breakdown of your home’s heating and hot water system, and water supply.
- Damage which causes your home to become unsecure, such as to locks, doors and windows.
- The sudden failure of toilet and sewage systems.
- The sudden and total failure of the permanent means of cooking in your home.
- The loss of keys to a home.
- Infestation by pests such as rats, lice, moths and wasps.
Peace of mind
Knowing that you’ll be instantly able to fix many of the problems listed above within a relatively short time-span after calling your insurer (short compared with having to sort it out on your own) is, to many people, worth paying for.
Many home emergency policies will guarantee response times and availability of workmen who should be able to either fix the problem or at least deal with the immediate issues it causes until it is fixed.
Are you covered for all costs and claims?
Policies vary widely when it comes to costs and claims; some will cover call out charges for tradesmen, others won’t, some will allow unlimited claims while others limit you to one a year.
When it comes to repairs, most will cover parts, labour, materials and VAT, but there will be limits on how much you can claim and the length of time the work takes to put the problem right.
As will nearly all insurance, there are caveats and exclusions so that the insurer isn’t liable to open-ended costs.
Typical exclusions to emergency cover include:
- Boilers over a certain age and those which are uneconomical to repair.
- Replacement of leaking or dripping taps.
- Claims during certain times of the year (such as boiler breakdown in the summer months, which largely isn’t deemed an ‘emergency’ as it’s not cold enough).
- Water supply pipes that you aren’t responsible for.
- Work carried out without the insurer’s knowledge and prior approval.
- Claims which are initiated more than 48 hours after the emergency situation first arose.
- Costs associated with emergencies arising from what is deemed to be natural wear and tear or poor home maintenance.
Here at Policy Expert, 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 1 July 2014