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21 Jul 2021
Jamie Gibbs Jamie Gibbs

Home emergency cover: what counts as a home emergency?

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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.

Since the start of the pandemic, people have found themselves home more than ever before. So, you might notice things like faulty plumbing or dodgy electrics more often.

But what’s bad enough for something to be called an ‘emergency’? And how do you fix it? Let’s take a look.

 

What is home emergency cover?

Home emergency cover is an optional extra that you can add to your home insurance policy. It’s designed to cover your house for things that could impact your health, your home’s security, or the risk of damage in your home.

This usually covers issues to do with your main utilities – water, gas and electricity.

A home emergency policy helps to fix the issue itself e.g. broken pipes, but not any damage it causes.

Most home emergency cover policies say that you need to keep your home in a good state of repair for the cover to be valid.

 

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 might include:

Boiler and heating issues

If your boiler breaks down or leaks, leaving you with no hot water, home emergency cover could come in handy.

There might be some T&Cs around this for your cover to be valid, such as :

  • The boiler needs to be outside of its manufacturer warranty

  • You should have the boiler serviced regularly

  • The boiler should be under a certain age – usually less than seven to 10 years.

 

Issues with plumbing and drainage

This might cover you for burst pipes and blocked drains, sinks and toilets. This wouldn’t cover drainage issues that are outside your property.

Home emergency cover doesn't tend to cover trace and access, where someone locates the source of a leak. You’d need to check your home insurance policy to see if it’s included.

 

Sudden damage to your roof

If your roof suffers storm damage suddenly, home emergency cover could help you make quick repairs to the roof to keep your home dry.

The word ‘sudden’ is important here – general wear and tear likely won’t be covered.

 

Sudden electrical failure

If your home’s fuse box blows, or an electric failure leaves you without power, you could claim on your home emergency cover to get this fixed.

This would only apply to your home. So, if a storm knocks out the grid, your policy wouldn’t cover this.

 

Broken windows, doors and locks

If your home is suddenly vulnerable because of a smashed window or broken door lock, your policy could help you out.

Depending on the policy, you might also be able help with lost and stolen house keys.

 

Pest infestations

Your policy help remove infestations – the usual suspects are mice, rats and wasp nests.

Some home emergency cover providers have different definitions as to what a ‘pest’ is. So, removing a beehive might not be covered, for example.

 

Does my home insurance cover home emergencies?

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

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

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

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What does home emergency cover include?

Home emergency cover tends to be 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.

Some policies might also include alternative accommodation cover. This could come in handy if the emergency left your home temporarily uninhabitable.

 

What’s not included in home emergency cover?

Home emergency cover generally doesn't cover:

  • Wear and tear

  • General maintenance

  • Damp and rot

  • Broken boilers that are old – usually seven or more years, but check with the provider

  • Infestations of protected species

  • Minor issues e.g. a dripping tap or a single faulty electrical socket

  • Any damage caused by the original issue.

 

 Do I need home emergency cover?

Much like home insurance, home emergency cover is designed to protect against the unexpected. It’s the kind of policy you hope you never have to use.

While it’s not essential, it could be worth considering if you’d be left in the lurch after a broken boiler, or a power cut, for example.

The costs that come with unexpected plumping or electrical issues could be substantial. So, it’s worth weighing up your options to see what suits your circumstances.

 

If you’re a tenant, you don't need home emergency cover.

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

They might have landlord emergency cover or be willing to pay for any emergency repairs. Have a chat with them to make sure you understand what’s expected of you and of them.

 

How to get home emergency cover

It couldn’t be simpler.

When you get a home insurance quote with us, you’ll see your list of prices laid out.

On the left-hand side – or using the ‘edit policy filters’ button if you’re on mobile – you can tick the ‘home emergency cover‘ box.

We’ll quickly recalculate your quote with the added cost of home emergency cover.

You’ll also be able to see which home insurance companies include it as standard and which have it as an extra – and how much that costs.

 

How to prevent home emergencies

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

  • Bleed your radiators

  • Inspect your roof for loose or broken tiles

  • Get your boiler serviced regularly.

 

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

Claiming on your home emergency cover should have zero impact on your home insurance no-claims bonus.

Home emergency cover should count as a separate policy from your home insurance.

You might be able to claim on it as many times as you need to without penalty. Though, it’s worth checking the T&Cs in case there’s a limit on how many call outs you’re allowed.

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