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Home emergency cover

Compare home emergency policies to take care of your heating, plumbing and electrics

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What is home emergency cover?

Home emergency cover protects your home against events like blocked drains, boiler breakdowns, burst pipes or electrical failure.

It’ll cover the cost of call-out fees and repairs but won’t cover the cost of repairing damages caused by the emergency.

You’ll need contents insurance for that.

What’s covered by home emergency?

Generally, the more you pay, the more cover you get. Stand-alone cover tends to be more extensive - and expensive - than the cover you can get as an add-on to your home insurance.


Boiler and central heating

For when your boiler or central heating system fails, or there’s a leak, leaving you with no hot water. Servicing and routine maintenance is rarely included, and if your boiler is under warranty, they’ll expect you to get it fixed by the manufacturer instead. Expect insurers to refuse to cover old boilers too, usually anywhere from seven to 10 years.

Plumbing and drains

Cover for leaking or burst pipes. Plus, blocked sinks, toilets and drains.

It’s rare to have cover for trace and access. Any pipes outside of your home, for example ones that are the responsibility of local authorities, won’t be covered either.

Electrics

For power loss because of electrical failures, for example, your fuse box going. Power cuts caused by the grid, or problems with wiring outside of your home, won’t be covered.

Security

Things like broken windows, doors and locks that leave your home insecure. Some insurers cover lost or stolen keys and getting back in to your home too.

Roof

For bad weather damage mainly, and urgent repairs to make your home temporarily safe and dry again. General wear and tear over time is excluded.

Pests

Cover to remove infestations from your home. Usually mice, rats or wasp nests. Any infestations that need specialist removal, like bees or moths, are usually excluded.

Alternative accommodation

If it’s not safe for you to stay in your home, some insurers will put you and your family up in a hotel while repairs are carried out.

Do I need home emergency cover?

It’s up to you really. It’s optional and depends on whether you want the cover for the unexpected. It’s sometimes packaged up with your bank account, or as an add-on with your home insurance, so check before you take out stand-alone cover.

Tenants don’t need it. It’s your landlord’s responsibility to look out for you if there’s a home emergency. Just like with home insurance, landlords can add it to their cover or buy a specialist policy. But they might choose to keep a network of reliable tradesman on call instead, and manage the cost for themselves.

Limits and exclusions

Your home emergency insurance policy will likely have exclusions. You should find out what they are before selecting a policy. Some common exclusions are:


Work required after immediate repair

Stand-alone home emergency insurance will only cover immediate fixes and not the repair work needed afterwards. For example, it would cover the cost to repair a burst pipe, but not the cost of water-damaged wood flooring. Your home insurance might cover you for this though.

If any more work is needed after the immediate repairs - for example, to improve a heating system and avoid future problems - you'll have to cover the cost yourself.

Claim cost cap

Most insurers put a price cap on each claim. So, you’ll want enough for call-out charges, parts and labour costs, plus any VAT.

Claim caps vary a lot between insurers, so it’s worth checking you’ve got enough cover for typical eventualities. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying the rest yourself.

Number of call-outs and claims

Sometimes, there’s a limit to the number of call-outs and claims you can make during the course of your policy.

Some insurers won't let you claim during the cooling-off period. Check policy docs to see if this is the case.

Unoccupied properties

It varies, but if you leave your home unoccupied for 30 days or more, expect any home emergencies to be excluded – it might void your home insurance too. If you're planning to leave your home vacant for any long period of time, consider unoccupied property insurance instead.

Poor maintenance and general wear and tear

You’ll need to keep your home in a good state of repair and make sure you carry out routine maintenance - your home emergency policy could refuse to pay out if an issue is caused by your negligence.

How to buy home emergency cover

There are two main ways to buy home emergency cover: with your home insurance, or as a stand-alone policy.

Home insurance add-on
Stand-alone policy

You usually need to pay extra to include home emergency cover on your home insurance and it isn’t available on all policies.

However this may still be cheaper than buying a stand-alone policy and it’ll mean you’ll only need to deal with one company if you need to claim for the emergency and subsequent repairs.

According to Defaqto, only 24% of 369 buildings insurance policies include home emergency cover as standard, but it can be added for an additional cost to 47%.[1]

Find out more

Key points

  • Might be cheaper than buying a stand-alone policy
  • Only one company to deal with if you need to claim for the emergency and subsequent repairs
  • Coverage is often more limited than on a dedicated policy

You might find that buying a dedicated home emergency policy costs a bit more than adding it to your home insurance, but you’ll be able to add as little or as much cover as you need.

You could choose a basic policy for a low cost to just protect your boiler, or opt for one that covers heating, electrics, pipes, vermin damage and more.

You can even include an annual boiler service with some policies, which can work out good value.

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Key points

  • Might be cheaper if you only want basic cover
  • Including a boiler service can be good value
  • You might have to deal with both the home emergency company and your home insurance provider to make a claim for an emergency and subsequent damage
  • The most comprehensive policies can work out expensive compared with adding it to your home insurance

Frequently asked questions

  • How do I claim on my home emergency cover?

    Call the emergency helpline as soon as you notice the problem.

    Depending on how serious the problem is, a tradesperson should be with you within a few hours – no more than 24.

    If you also have home insurance, someone from your insurance provider might come out to assess the damage too if you’re making a claim.

    Don’t try to sort out repairs for yourself if you want to make a claim on your home emergency policy - if you get a local tradesperson to come out to you directly instead, you won’t be covered.

  • Will a claim affect no claims bonus?

    Some policies will include clauses that protect your no-claims bonus in the event of a claim.

    Not all insurers will offer this clause as standard so it's important to compare insurers to find the level of cover you need.

  • Do I have to pay an excess when I make a claim?

    It depends on your policy. Check when you take it out if there’s an excess and that you can afford to pay it.

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[1]Last checked 11 August 2020

Page last reviewed: 17 July 2020

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