Is home emergency cover worth it?

A picture of a man repairing a boiler valve
Tony was an absolute maestro with his tool
"If you're considering buying home emergency insurance, the first thing that you should do is to check your existing household insurance policy"
  • | by Emily Bater

Whether it's a burst pipe or a burglary, when home emergencies happen they're a nuisance at best. At worst, they can force you out of your home.

While some calamities are more common in the winter, such as burst pipes or boiler breakdown, others can crop up all year round, as anyone who's suffered a squirrel infestation or smashed window can attest.

But does your home insurance cover you for these unforeseeable mishaps? Should you buy standalone home emergency cover, or simply add it on to your existing policy?

Gocompare.com looked at 345 home contents insurance policies listed by independent financial researcher Defaqto on 28 January, 2015, and found that just 17% included home emergency cover as standard, while 69% offered it as an optional extra. Where it could be bought as an add-on, there was a wide variation in the cover and cost.

The cost of the additional cover ranged from £12 to £265, but most policies offered cover for around £35.

The level of cover differed greatly between polices – one policy only covered two types of household emergencies while nine covered 11 types.

The most commonly covered household perils were plumbing and drainage problems (69%), home security (broken doors or windows - 69%), domestic power supply failure (67%), central heating failure (67%), vermin infestation (55%) and removal of wasp and hornet nests (55%).

What is home emergency insurance?

Designed to cover misfortunes like burst pipes or boiler breakdown, home emergency cover offers householders access to a 24-hour emergency helpline, meaning they should be able to get hold of approved tradesmen quickly and easily.

Policies will cover the cost of call-out, labour and materials for repairs, and may also offer cover for alternative accommodation if you have to stay elsewhere while repairs are being made.

Do I really need it?

"If you're considering buying home emergency insurance, the first thing that you should do is to check your existing household insurance policy, which may already provide the cover you need," said Gocompare.com's Ben Wilson. 

"Like most insurance policies, the level of cover you'll receive – and its price – varies from policy to policy."

It's important to remember, too, that emergency cover could exclude equipment which hasn't been installed or maintained properly, like boilers.

"The failure of boilers or heating systems is usually only covered when they have been inspected or serviced by a qualified person within the preceding 12 months," said Wilson.