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09 Jun 2020
Jamie Gibbs Jamie Gibbs

Home emergency cover: what counts as a home emergency?


Woman standing in living room with a bucket, catching water from a burst pipe and on the phone to an emergency plumber

Here's how you can protect yourself against those sudden mishaps at home.

People are finding themselves at home a lot more than ever before. So, you may notice things like faulty plumbing or dodgy electrics more often.

But what’s bad enough to be called an ‘emergency’? And how do you fix it?

Key points

  • Home emergency cover is an add-on to a home insurance policy

  • It covers you for things that could impact your health, your home’s security or risk of damage

  • Home emergency cover fixes the issue itself, but not any damage it causes

  • You need to maintain your home to a good standard for the cover to be valid.


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What counts as a home emergency?

A home emergency tends to be anything that:

  • Is bad for your health

  • Risks damaging your home

  • Compromises your home's security.


Emergencies tend to be sudden and unexpected. They can include:

  • Your boiler breaking down

  • Issues where you’ve no heating or hot water

  • Issues with plumbing e.g. blocked drains

  • Sudden damage to your roof

  • Sudden electrical failure

  • Broken windows, doors and locks

  • Infestations of mice or rats.


Home emergencies and social distancing

At a time when social distancing is a concern, you may wonder if you can get these issues fixed.

Don't worry. You can still have someone come and fix emergency issues in your home.

Check with your home emergency cover provider. They can tell you what steps they’re taking to keep everyone safe.

If you’re in a vulnerable category or are self-isolating, tell them before you discuss the issue. They may have a different process.



What do I get with home emergency cover?

Home emergency cover is an add-on policy that lets you deal with these emergency issues. Policy specifics will vary, but you usually get:

  • A 24-hour helpline for any emergencies

  • Access to an approved engineer who can come out and fix any issues

  • Cover for all parts and labour up to a certain amount.


Does my home insurance cover me for any of this?

Some insurance policies may have home emergency cover added as standard. Some may have it as an add-on.

It's best to check your small print to see what is and isn’t covered.

Your standard contents insurance policy should cover damage caused by the emergency. This might include a burst water pipe damaging your carpet, for example.

READ MORE: Contents insurance explained


If I use home emergency cover, does it affect my no-claims bonus?

It should have zero impact on your no-claims bonus.

Home emergency cover is a separate policy from home insurance.

You can usually claim on it as many times as you need to.


What isn’t covered?

Home emergency cover generally doesn't cover:

  • Wear and tear, damp and rot

  • Broken boilers that are old – usually 7+ years but check with the provider.


Keep your home in good shape

One of the big exclusions for home emergency cover is that it doesn’t cover wear and tear.

So, to stay covered, it pays to keep your house in good order.

  • Clear your gutters and drains every now and again

  • Re-pressurise your boilers and bleed your radiators

  • Inspect your roof for loose or broken tiles.

READ MORE: Monthly and seasonal home maintenance checks


I’m renting. Do I need home emergency cover?

Tenants don't need home emergency cover.

It’s your landlord’s responsibility to keep everything in order and fix any issues.

They should have something in place or be willing to pay for any emergency repairs.

READ MORE: Tenant and landlord right and responsibilities


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