Home emergency insurance plans can provide a valuable service for homeowners, offering quick and efficient repairs for all kinds of household problems. But with annual costs up to around £350+ for more comprehensive plans, are they really worth it?
Home emergency insurance provides peace of mind for millions of homeowners in Britain, guaranteeing repairs to household problems such as broken heating systems, plumbing problems and electrical problems at no extra cost.
All repairs are carried out by certified professionals and there is usually no limit to the number of call outs.
The home emergency insurance plans available in the United Kingdom market today range from the very basic, which only cover repairs to your boiler, to the very comprehensive, which usually cover heating systems, electrics, plumbing and drainage, and appliances.
There are a number of suppliers offering home emergency insurance. Here we look at the major companies providing these services.
With the wide range of boiler cover from British Gas, you’ll be sure to find a package that suits you and your home. All boiler insurance packages include boiler breakdown cover, and you can upgrade to a variety of HomeCare® packages to include annual boiler repair, plumbing and drain cover and much more.
British Gas Homecare® offers a number of benefits
- More than 6,000 highly qualified Gas Safe registered engineers
- Unlimited call outs per contract year
- Parts and labour included 
- Flexible excess levels
- Customer helpline line 24/7
Although British Gas cover most types of repair, their policies do not provide cover for security incidents and pest infestations, which other companies such as DirectLine and HomeServe porvide (see below).
It is also interesting to note that although British Gas have invested heavily in their TV advertising campaigns, they are now facing considerable competition from other providers listed in this article.
British Gas have lowered their prices and are prepared to offer further discounts if you ask nicely!
Their work is generally performed to a high standard and it is reassuring to know that their tradesmen are qualified and that they use quality parts, though as the comments below show, many customers experience problems and frustrations with last minute appointment cancellations and inefficiencies.
British Gas have long ben the leaders in this market, but their strong competition makes it important to shop around for better deals, and other companies can offer a wider range of services too.
HomeServe aim to be the first place people turn to when it comes to fixing, maintaining and looking after your home.
HomeServe cover a wide range of home services such as plumbing, electrics, security incidents and pet infestations. Their combined service cover offers different levels of service at competitive prices.
We don’t know if prices rise year upon year, particularly if you have call outs, but their Homeserve level 8 plus annual boiler service looks attractive at a starting price of £12.50 per month.
Should the worst happen, you can also call upon HomeServe for fixed price repairs, even if you are not subscribing to their monthly plans.
They back up this service with 12 month guarantees and have a 24/7 hotline that is open 365 days per year, should you need them.
Although HomeServe are probably more expensive than local tradesmen, their guarantees and fixed price promises may well be worth paying a small premium.
Another provider is Direct Line, offering a rival service that provides home emergency cover as part of its home insurance policies.
DirectLine offer three levels of home insurance: Home Insurance, Home Insurance Plus and Select Premier.
The Home Emergency cover is included in the Home Insurance Plus and Select Premier products, and is an optional extra for the basic Home Insurance product.
This aims to put things right in your home when they go wrong. It includes plumbing and drainage, pest infestations and the cost of a call out, labour and parts (up to £500 for Home Insurance and Home Insurance plus, and up to £750 for Select Premier).
Heating and electrical emergencies are also covered and we particularly like the fact that DirectLine also cover security emergencies such as lost keys.
DirectLine also promise to send out a plumber within three hours to stop uncontrollable leaks for customers with Home insurance Plus policies, so overall it is well worth considering buying your home insurance from DirectLine for the additional benefits of their home emergency cover.
The value of these policies may depend on the age of your property
Consumer review websites generally suggest that they are worthwhile if you are living in an older property where you are more likely to have problems with heating, plumbing and electrics. If you live in a newly built home with a modern heating system, it is probably more economical to pay for problems as they arise.
So is buying emergency home care insurance worth it?
There is always a risk that when you look at the monthly cost of a service, it seems affordable, however when you multiple it by 12 to see the actual annual costs, you realise how much these plans are really costing each year.
If you are paying £20 per month, then this plan is costing you £240 a year, but that cost is very likely to rise if you have made claims.
If your plan creeps up to £30 per month, then you are shelling out £360 every year, and that starts to feel expensive, but you will be getting a wide range of cover for that annual charge.
This is why factors such as the age of your property and boiler should be considered when thinking about these homecare plans.
Home electricals are generally reliable (you probably have not experienced any electrical isues recently), and the latest boilers are also becoming more reliable too. It’s more simple problems such as stuck valves in the heating system that cause issues and these are generally cheaper to fix.
So depending on your circumstances, it may be more cost efffective to avoid these home care insurance products.
However the competition between providers is ensuring that prices are reasonable and it is reassuring that any tradesman who visits will have been vetted by the company and has the backing of a large concern rather than from a one man band.
The choice is yours, but it certainly pays to shop around and to take a long hard look at these policies before signing on the dotted line.
Article updated on 13 October 2016
This article has been extensively updated to reflect the changes in the market. Some companies have terminated their service offerings and others have strengthened and widened their range of services, making them much more competitive.