With the coming of autumn, the falling leaves tell us that winter is just around the corner.
Woollen jumpers and warming cuppas will soon become necessities, and after a day of braving rain or snow, home should always be the haven you look forward to reaching.
However, when an incident happens around the home which requires emergency repairs, this safe haven may not seem quite as comforting. Whether it’s a broken window or a burst pipe, these things may be unavoidable, but you shouldn’t allow them to compromise your comfort. The roof over your head is designed to keep out the elements after all, so don’t let a leak quite literally rain on your parade.
Such issues are all too common, and can cost the homeowner a lot in both anxiety and expense. This is especially true when the boiler or central heating is concerned, as boiler repairs aren’t something the average homeowner should attempt themselves. Assistance from a Gas Safe registered engineer is vital to ensure the safety of your home, but this professional help will of course come at a cost, even more so if the emergency occurs outside of normal working hours. For this reason, having insurance for your boiler can be a real blessing if it’s the depths of winter and the heating packs in.
Finding quality boiler cover: seven key features to check
Boiler cover can be found both standalone as well as part of a wider Home Emergency Cover policy. Before searching, it’s important to understand that this insurance is designed for homeowners only – if you currently rent your home, regardless of whether it’s a flat or a mansion, then the cover is not available to you. This would be for the landlord themselves to arrange, and there will be different policies available to them.
Home Emergency Cover in general has received a bad rep from some corners, such as this opinion piece in Which?, which criticised many policies as being ‘overpriced’ and ridiculously limited’. Whilst this may be the case when it comes to some providers – a £99 excess seems a bit unfair when your emergency may not even cost that much – the importance of shopping around is more salient here than ever. When looking for Home Emergency and Boiler Breakdown Cover, here are 7 key features to assess:
Your insurance policy will cover you for claims of up to a particular sum, with insurers providing anything between £500 and £4,000 per repair to cover the co
st of parts and labour. However, while a £4,000 claim amount may sound attractive, the key question to ask is this – do you really anticipate that an emergency repair around your home will cost that much? Such a policy is naturally going to charge you a higher premium, so looking for another which offers a more realistic claim amount like £1,000 will help keep the costs down whilst still providing adequate cover.
Claim number limit
The number of claims you can make on your policy is also important to find out. Like all insurance, Home Emergency Cover is there to help in the most unwanted situations, so you probably won’t look forward to the time when you have to make a claim. However, for your own peace of mind, it’s good to know that you’ll be covered for multiple incidents, especially if it’s a particularly poor winter. Some policies will limit you to just 3 claims throughout the year, so it may be worth shopping around to see if you can get more for your money; other insurers like Best Price FS may give you the assurance of unlimited claims.
The issue with policies offering low monthly premiums is that they’ll often carry an excess, a fee which you’ll have to pay every time you make a claim. This may be cost-effective if you never actually experience a home emergency over the course of your policy. However, if your insurer will charge you upwards of £90 for one single claim which may have only cost them £100 to get a contractor out for, then sometimes a policy with an excess can end up costing more than if you were to go without. Once again though, it’s important to shop around; not all cheap policies will charge an excess.
Whilst it not true for all insurers, some will only provide boiler cover if your boiler is under a certain age or is of a certain type. This makes it more difficult for homeowners with systems over 10 years old for example, and certain policies may only provide cover for gas-powered boilers, leaving those with electric systems out in the cold, in more ways than one. Make sure you know what’s included and what’s not to avoid any shocks further down the line.
Similar to the restrictions you may find on boilers, some policies will only cover homes of a certain type or build. Roofs are a common area where you may find disparity between providers – thatched or flat roofs are susceptible to a different range of issues as compared to the far more common gabled or hipped roofs, meaning these are sometimes not covered. The material of your home may also be a reason to do a little more research, as less standard building materials may not be covered.
Although most good policies will give you the cover stated all-year round, there are some providers who will not attend to boilers during the summer months. Whilst this may not be too much of a worry for heating, hot water is still an essential of modern-day living for washing and cleaning. For this reason, watch out for policies which impose seasonal restrictions which will negatively affect the quality of your cover.
Like the vast majority of our day-to-day purchases, price is something to be wary of when shopping around for Home Emergency Cover. Make sure to compare the quality and cover of policies before choosing – the lowest price doesn’t always make something the best price – and as mentioned, make sure to factor in any excess you’ll have to pay per claim.
Crisp, cool mornings and chilly nights are most certainly on their way, but these seven key points should help you find the best Home Emergency Cover to beat boiler breakdowns this winter. Remember that the key to all of this is finding the policy that covers each area of your home; after all, there’s no point being over-insured. And for the right price, a proper assistance policy will save you a lot of money compared to self-insuring and paying top rates for each and every issue in the home.