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Are you covered if your boiler breaks down?
Are you covered if your boiler breaks down?
With more cold weather ahead, are you protected against the misery of boiler breakdown?
Many of us will have turned on the heating recently for the first time this autumn, and, with more cold weather ahead, are you protected against the misery of boiler breakdown?
According to British Gas, a boiler breaks down every 20 seconds in the UK, with the average boiler repair costing a steep £185. The obvious option may seem to be to take out heating cover with your energy provider to ensure you are covered in the event of boiler breakdown, but these policies can be overpriced and you could even be paying for cover which you already have.
For example, if you have a new boiler, you will probably already be covered for breakdowns by a one-year warranty, and it is usually older boilers that need the most repairs anyway. You might also already be protected against boiler breakdown by your home insurance policy, so check the small print carefully before taking out additional cover.
Prudential automatically includes home emergency cover in its home insurance policies. This covers call-out fees, parts, labour and materials up to £250 per call-out for emergencies relating to the main source of heating in the home.
It also covers emergencies relating to electricity supply, internal plumbing and drainage, as well as locks, doors and windows. Claiming on this part of the policy won’t affect your no claims discount. Legal & General also includes cover of up to £150 to cover call-out fees, labour costs and materials for emergencies such as a burst pipe or central heating failure.If home emergency cover isn’t included as standard, then you can usually pay extra for it at a cost of around £4 or £5 a month. Adding home emergency cover to an esure home insurance policy, for example, adds around £36 a year to your premiums.
The cover will pay up to £500 for call-out charges for emergency heating repairs and up to two hours of labour costs. Included within this £500 is the cost of any parts and materials up to a maximum of £100.
Halifax Home Insurance also provides home emergency cover which – for around £4 extra a month – will pay out up to £500 per incident, including heating repairs, and claims do not affect the household no claims discount. Cornhill Direct’s Home Emergency cover costs £30 a year, and pays out up to £250 towards labour and parts for each call-out.
If you want more comprehensive cover, which may include a free annual service and no maximum claim limit, then a specialist boiler insurance policy is worth considering. Don’t make the mistake of buying this from your energy provider without researching alternative policies, which may be much cheaper.
The best way to do this is through comparison websites such as uSwitch.com and energyhelpline.com. For example, according to energyhelpline, one of the best-value boiler cover policies is from Homeserve. Its EasyPay Boiler cover costs £6.99 a month, plus another £50 each time a boiler repair is needed.
You can make an unlimited number of claims a year and repairs are always made by an approved Corgi-registered installer. If you don’t want to pay the £50 excess each time, then there is a plan where you pay £9.99 a month, but you can only make a maximum of two claims a year.
In comparison, British Gas’s HomeCare 400 policy, costs a steep £26 a month through. This policy does, however, cover the whole central-heating system including radiators, pipe work and hot water pipes, plus drains and electrics, and there is no limit on the number of call-outs you can make.
British Gas’s prices are only fixed for the first year – after that you could pay more as prices after year one are based on your individual circumstances, such as where you live and on the size and age of your central heating system.
Some policies place a cap on the amount of cover each year. For example, Domestic & General’s HeatGuard Silver Plan costs £9.50 a month and you can make an unlimited number of claims every year, but the maximum amount you can claim in total each year is £1,500.
If you are considering cover, make sure you find out when the policy begins. With most providers you have to wait a minimum of 30 days before the cover kicks in and you can make a claim. Bear in mind some providers also won’t agree to cover very old boilers, so you may find it difficult to get cover if your boiler is more than 15 years old.
An alternative to buying boiler cover is ‘self-insuring’ to make sure you have funds available if your boiler does break down. This simply means paying a small amount each month into a savings account so that if you do run into difficulties, you have the money available to pay for repairs.
If you have to get your boiler mended frequently, then it may be worth replacing it. Choosing an energy-efficient condensing model will help you keep energy bills down, and while the initial outlay might be expensive, it should pay off in the long run.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, an A-rated condensing boiler will also use a third less fuel than an older boiler to provide the same amount of heat – potentially cutting heating bills and CO2 emissions by a third too
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