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Nearly a third of homeowners fear boiler breakdown this winter

12 October 2015

As 30% of homeowners worry about their boiler failing this winter, Gocompare.com urges them to check their home insurance to see if they have home emergency cover

  • £344 – the average cost to repair a broken down boiler;
  • 9% of households with a boiler breakdown have paid bills of over £1,000;
  • Most (72%) home buildings insurance policies included home emergency cover either as standard or as an optional extra.

According to new research released today, 30% of homeowners fear they have boiler trouble brewing this winter - many of whom would be left struggling to pay for the cost of repairs.  But many householders may be able to claim the cost of emergency boiler or central heating repairs under their home buildings insurance.

The survey, commissioned by Gocompare.com Energy, found that 43% of homeowners have experienced boiler problems in the last three years, paying out on average £344 for repairs. Almost one in ten (9%) faced bills in excess of £1,000.  While 56% said their boiler only needed minor repairs, 20% experienced a major breakdown and a fifth needed to have a new boiler installed.

When asked how they might pay a £300 repair bill if their boiler broke down this winter, only 34% of homeowners surveyed said that they had money set aside for such an emergency, while 11% would have to pay by credit card.  Less than a third (31%) have specific boiler cover.

Homeowners may have cover for emergency boiler or central heating repairs under their home buildings insurance.  Home emergency insurance covers household misfortunes, typically insuring against the failure of your home’s heating system, plumbing or drainage trouble, or home security issues. It generally covers the cost of call-out charges, labour and materials for temporary or permanent repairs up to a maximum limit per claim.

Gocompare.com reviewed over 360 home buildings insurance policies** and found that the majority (72%) provide cover for home emergencies as either a standard feature (18%), or as an optional cover for which an additional fee is payable (54%). Of those policies providing cover for home emergencies, 98% cover the home’s main central heating system and 86% provide insurance against hot water failure.  The level of cover varies from policy to policy, but the majority (90%) will pay out £500 to £1,000 per emergency.

Commenting on the research findings, Gocompare.com’s energy spokesperson, Tom Lewis, said: “Boilers can develop problems if they aren’t serviced regularly.  But, despite being one of the most expensive items in a home to replace or repair, many people don’t give them a thought until they break down.  We strongly suggest people have their system checked on an annual basis, which will help ensure that it is running both safely and efficiently.

“Several energy suppliers offer specialist boiler insurance which covers you against the cost of emergency repairs and the price usually includes an annual service.  But if you’re considering insurance, you should check your household buildings insurance policy for home emergency cover first – because your boiler might already be protected. 

“However, while insurance covers the failure of, or accidents to, essential services to your home, it generally exclude problems which result from systems not being properly maintained. As such, boilers or heating systems problems are usually only covered if they’ve been inspected or serviced by a qualified person within the preceding 12 months.”

Gocompare.com has produced a guide on boiler and central heating cover.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

*On 18 September 2015, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 1,302 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists and homeowners.  The margin of error – which measures sampling variability – is +/-2.2%.  The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of the United Kingdom.  Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

**Source: Defaqto Matrix of 364 home buildings insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto (24 September 2015).Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number.