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It’s time to turn the heating on! Take the sweat out of boiler breakdown

28 September 2016

When much of the UK has been enjoying unseasonably hot weather it’s hard to think about switching on the central heating.  But, what will happen this winter if you flick the switch on your boiler only to find it doesn’t work?

Check your heating now, and then check your home insurance

  • 77% of home buildings insurance policies1 provide cover for home emergencies;
  • Most of which include the failure of your home’s central heating system;

Boilers are one of the most expensive items in your home to replace or repair.  A broken down boiler costs on average £3442 to fix but many people don’t give their boiler a second’s thought until it lets them down.  If your boiler gives up the ghost this winter, then it’s worth checking your home buildings insurance to see if it includes have home emergency cover.

Under home emergency cover, insurers typically give customers access to a 24 hour helpline which provides a call out service for emergency repairs by local tradesmen at an agreed call out charge.  An emergency is defined as a sudden, unforeseen situation which if not dealt with quickly would leave your home unsafe, unsecure, damaged or cause further damage, or cause risk to you or your family.  The types of emergency incidents covered can include boiler breakdown, the failure of your home’s electric or gas supply, plumbing and drainage issues, home security issues (for example, damaged windows or locks as a result of a burglary) and the cost of dealing with vermin infestations such as wasps, rats or squirrels.  

A review of over 429 home insurance policies by Gocompare.com Home Insurance found that home emergency cover is available with 77% of policies.  Of these, a fifth automatically include cover for home emergencies while 56% provide cover as an optional extra.  Of those policies offering cover, the majority (98%) will pay out costs for an emergency breakdown of a home heating system.

Home emergency cover generally covers the costs of contractors’ call out and labour charges and for parts and materials up to the sum insured.  Policy pay-outs are capped with most policies (93%) providing maximum cover levels of between £500 and £1,000 (including VAT).   

Cover for equipment which has not been properly installed, maintained or repaired is usually excluded.  Therefore, policies will only cover failure of boilers or heating systems when they have been inspected or serviced by a qualified person within the preceding 12 months.

Ben Wilson from Gocompare.com Home Insurance commented: “Anyone who has experienced the breakdown of their central heating system in the depths of winter knows how miserable it is and how difficult and expensive it can be to arrange emergency repairs.  What people may not realise is that valuable help may be available under their home insurance.    

“However, insurance only provides a financial safety-net for unforeseen events and policies typically exclude cover for problems which are a result of systems not being properly maintained.  So we strongly recommend that people have their central heating systems checked on an annual basis.  This will help ensure that it is running safely and efficiently.”

For more information see Gocompare.com's guide on home emergency cover.

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Notes to editors:

1Source: Defaqto Matrix of 429 home buildings insurance policies – instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto (12 September 2016). Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number.

2Source: Bilendi online survey among 1,302 randomly seleceted British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists and homeowners.  Survey conducted 18 September 2015. 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.