When it comes to boiler breakdowns, blocked drains and other home emergencies, the inconvenience and unexpected cost can be a lot to bear.
While your home insurance will pick up the bill for fire, flood or theft, it probably won't get your heating back on or your burst pipe fixed.
So where can you turn to get a real peace of mind in an emergency? Home emergency cover to the rescue!
Home emergency insurance explained
If an incident occurs in the home and you’re in dire straits, you’ll usually need it sorted pretty sharpish. This is where home emergency cover could really save the day.
If you have home emergency cover in place, you’ll be given a number to call if something goes wrong and you need it fixed straight away. Your insurer should send one of their appointed tradespeople out to your home to help fix the situation.
It's important to remember that using someone you know generally won't be covered because they’ve not been approved by the insurer.
Home emergency cover is one of the most common home insurance extras you can add to your policy. But some insurers also offer it as part of the standard policy.
What does home emergency insurance cover?
Emergency cover will usually protect for a number of scenarios, such as:
Some insurers will also offer cover for additional things like appliance breakdown, infestation by pests and alternative accommodation.
How much cover do you get?
Home emergency insurance will usually pay for call out costs, parts, labour and VAT up to a fixed limit.
For example, with Esure and L&G it’s up to £500 per claim, although with premium policies it can be as much as £1,500.
Unlike claiming on your home insurance, with home emergency policies is there’s usually no excess to pay.
Also, there’s often no limit to the number of claims you can make, providing they fit with what your policy classes as an emergency.
How fast will they come out?
Response times can vary.
Lloyds TSB and Halifax aim to respond within a few hours, and LV= say it's within the same day.
However, unless your policy gives a guaranteed response time it could, depending on the problem, be quicker calling a local tradesperson yourself. In such cases, the costs for this won't be met by your policy
Are you already covered?
Before paying out twice, check that you’re not already covered for this with your existing insurer. Some insurers offer home emergency cover as standard as part of their home insurance.
With things like water supply pipe cover, some water companies will fix this for free, so it’s not worth paying for something you don’t need.
It’s the same story with the appliance cover offered on some home emergency policies, as you may find you’re covered under the product’s warranty.
And if you have a packaged bank account, where you pay a monthly fee for extra benefits, home emergency insurance may be included - so do check.
Check the small print
If you decide you want a home emergency policy, check if there are age limits on cover for boilers and heating systems.
Also, find out whether having your boiler and heating system serviced annually is a condition of the policy. With some policies, you may find irregular servicing means cover is void.
Finally, consider whether you really need all of those optional extras which can boost the cost of your home emergency cover.