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04 February 2014

As alleged mis-selling of standalone home emergency cover hits the headlines recommends homeowners check their home insurance to see if they are already covered for household mishaps.

Standalone home emergency insurance hit the headlines recently when HomeServe, the home emergency maintenance firm, revealed it is facing a £34.5m fine for alleged mis-selling and poor complaints handling. One of the issues under investigation is whether customers who buy standalone policies are already covered for household mishaps under their home insurance, and therefore potentially paying for something that they don’t need. Research by confirms that two thirds of home contents policies provide cover for home emergencies either as a standard feature or as an additional extra.*

Ben Wilson, home insurance spokesperson at, explained: “Home emergency insurance is designed to cover household misfortunes, typically covering events like a burst pipe, boiler breakdown, drainage trouble or the repair of broken windows or doors which could pose a security issue. More comprehensive policies will also cover lost keys, cooking appliance failure, and the cost of dealing with infestations such as wasps, rats or squirrels. 

“In an emergency, getting someone in quickly to deal with the problem is critical and can help save further damage. This is why most home emergency providers have a 24 hour helpline to give policyholders access to approved tradesmen, whatever time of day or night their emergency occurs. Policies generally cover the cost of call-out, labour and materials for temporary or permanent repairs up to a maximum limit per claim.

“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. Our research found that 66% of policies offer cover for household emergencies, of which 26% include cover as a standard feature, while other policies offer it as an upgrade for an additional fee.”

A comparison of over 300 home insurance policies by revealed that where home emergency cover is available, there is a wide variation in the cover and cost of add-on home emergency insurance:

  • The cost of the additional cover ranges from £12 to £281.76, but most policies offer cover for around £30 to £50.
  • The level of cover differs greatly between polices – one policy only covered two types of household emergencies while nine covered 11 types. Typically policies cover between six and ten perils.

The most commonly covered perils are:

  • Plumbing/drainage problems (66%)
  • Domestic power supply failure (64%)
  • Home security (broken doors/windows) (64%)
  • Central heating failure (63%)
  • Vermin infestation (49%)
  • Removal of wasp/hornet nests (48%)

Ben Wilson concluded: “Like any other type of insurance, the level and cost of cover varies from policy to policy, so to make sure that you are getting what you need you should read your policy document carefully to check for cover limits and exclusions. It’s also worth remembering that while home emergency insurance covers the failure of, or mishaps to, essential services to your home, policies generally exclude problems arising as a result of equipment not being properly installed or maintained. For example, 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.” provides additional policy information, including home emergency cover details, and product star ratings for home insurance from independent financial research company Defaqto; allowing customers to compare up to 30 key features for each policy.


Notes to editors:

*Source: Defaqto Matrix of 313 home insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial research company Defaqto.Correct as of 21/01/2014.