It's that time of year when energy companies are eager to flog their boiler and heating breakdown cover. But while the likes of British Gas and NPower are happy to take your cash, do you really need policies like these or can your household insurance do the job?
Have you already got cover?
Some insurers already include boiler and heating breakdown cover within their home insurance policies while others offer this as an optional extra.
In most cases, it’s not only boiler and heating cover you get, but “home emergency cover” which, depending on the policy, may also extend to fixing blocked pipes and drains, home electrics and roof damage.
But check the maximum payouts as they do vary. Cover is included on household policies with the AA, Prudential and More Th>n paying up to £250 per claim; it’s £500 per claim if you’ve got a Tesco Finest, Privilege Platinum or Hiscox 505 policy, and up to £1,000 with Bradford and Bingley’s home insurance. And even if your insurer doesn’t include cover, if you shop around you can get free home cover with Sheilas’ Wheels (worth £52.99) when buying insurance online or pay just 12p for a year’s policy with the Co-operative.*
Cover from your bank account
If you’ve got a “packaged” current account and pay a monthly fee for services and benefits, home emergency cover may be included. The Lloyds TSB Premier Added Value Account includes cover worth £63 paying out up to £1,000 per claim. Or Halifax customers with an Ultimate Reward Current Account are covered up to £250.
Home policy v separate boiler & heating cover
Before shelling out on additional policies remember that home emergency cover is just that: it’s not 24/7 access to a local tradesman for botched DIY job. “This is for sudden and unexpected emergencies,” says Sheilas’ Wheels spokesman Adrian Webb, “so if your heating packs up in summer that’s not an emergency, whereas in winter it would be.”
If you’ve already got cover include in your home insurance policy for around £500 per claim, you may be better off sticking with this, as some standalone boiler and heating policies cost around £155 a year but still have the same £500 limit.
British Gas also has several policies offering unlimited cover starting from between £156 a year and £360. But even paying this much, British Gas say there’s no guarantee you’ll get a same-day service particularly if you report a problem after 1pm.
What to check before signing up
- Any age limits for boilers and heating systems
- Are you responsible for having the boiler and heating system serviced annually? (With some policies, irregular servicing can mean your policy is void)
- Compare maximum payouts and ask if there’s a limit to the number of claims you can make in a year
- Will you liable for an excess? With household policies this may be the case, whereas standalone policies may be excess free
- How quickly will someone come out if you have a problem?
If you’ve experienced problems with standalone boiler and heating cover then tell us over at the Property Jungle blog, where a number of our readers have been naming and shaming.
*Prices correct at the time of publishing