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. Such specific emergency services are not usually included as part of standard home insurance policies.
The home emergency insurance plans available in the UK market today range from the very basic, which only cover repairs to your boiler, to the very comprehensive, which can cover heating systems, electrics, plumbing and drainage, and appliances as well as pest infestations.
There are a number of suppliers offering home emergency insurance, either as standalone packages or as add-ons to your home insurance policy. We investigate, looking at the service offered, how it’s structured and thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages to help you then assess whether this cover is really worth having.
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British Gas Homecare®
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 annual boiler servicing, and you can upgrade to a variety of HomeCare® packages to include plumbing and drain cover and much more.
The British Gas Homecare® different packages currently available are
- Essential: Annual boiler service, boiler and controls, central heating.
- Classic: As Essential, plus plumbing and drains
- Complete: As Classic, plus home electrics
Looking at the British Gas Homecare® Essential package, the lowest cost option, in more detail, it includes:
- Unlimited call outs per contract year
- All parts and labour included
- Repairs to your gas central heating system, including boiler, controls, radiators and hot water cylinder
- Annual service of your boiler to make sure it’s running safely and efficiently. Your annual boiler services may be more than 12 months apart
- Accidental Damage
- Up to £1,000 to gain access and make good for each repair
- Flexible excess levels – for example £0, £60 or £99. If you have say a £60 excess, you’ll pay £60 for every completed repair. If you don’t have a repair, you won’t pay any excess.
- Customer helpline line 24/7
- Most boilers fixed first time, 99% in two visits
This Essential level of British Gas Homecare® does not include:
- Removing sludge or scale or repairing the damage it causes if we tell you it might be a problem for your system or boiler
- Showers or taps
- Faults caused by someone else you used for repairs or design faults.
Moving to the highest cost option, the Homecare® Complete package, it additionally includes services around plumbing, drains and electrics:
If you want to add further cover for items you can, for example you can add:
- Kitchen appliance cover, including fridge, freezer and cooker
- Gas appliance cover, including gas heater and oven
- Home electrics cover, including wiring, switches and sockets.
Is British Gas Homecare® Cover Worth Having?
Ultimately you need to assess the pros and cons of having home emergency insurance. To help, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages to consider:
- Comprehensive Coverage: Homecare® offers a variety of plans that cover a wide range of issues, including boiler breakdowns, plumbing issues, and electrical problems, allowing you to choose a package that best suits your needs.
- 24/7 Customer Support: Homeowners can access customer support round the clock, ensuring help is available at any time, day or night, in case of an emergency.
- Qualified Engineers: British Gas employs experienced and certified engineers, providing quality and reliable service when you need repairs or servicing.
- Annual Service: Included in all Homecare® packages and this will help maintain the essential systems in your home and help identify any potential issues before they escalate.
- Parts and Labour Included: Means you know the monthly and can budget accordingly, and you’ll be protected against unexpected costs.
- Defined Levels of Service: British Gas offers a defined set of target response times – Emergency, Priority and Standard and so you know when you should expect an engineer to be able to help you based on the severity of the issue.
- Cost: HomeCare plans can be quite costly, especially the more comprehensive plans.
- Service Delays: Although they offer 24/7 customer support, during peak times, there might be delays in service due to high demand. Also, in some regions of the UK, service availability might be limited, potentially leading to longer waiting times for repairs or maintenance visits.
- Pre-existing Issues: Problems existing before the policy inception may not be covered. This means any issues that are already present before you take out the plan might not be eligible for repair under the policy.
- Annual Price Increases: You can anticipate annual price increases, which will obviously make the plan more expensive over time. Factors that can affect price are boiler age, number of claims made, changes you make to your cover, wider economic factors such as inflation.
- Mixed Reviews: While many customers praise the service, there are also a considerable number of negative reviews citing issues with service quality, customer service, and response times.
- Limited Customisation: The packages come in predetermined sets of services, which might include services you do not need, or conversely, miss out on services that you do require, offering limited flexibility in tailoring the package to your specific needs.
These are potential advantages and disadvantages for you to consider. As you decide whether to buy a HomeCare® plan, or any other insurance or financial product, it’s essential to review the specific terms and conditions to understand fully what is included and any potential limitations or exclusions and assess the product in terms of your own specific needs.
British Gas Boiler Only Repair
If you want to, you can opt for a boiler only repair or you can opt for the boiler repair and add ongoing cover.
With a boiler only repair, what you pay depends on how long your repair takes, with a minimum charge.
If you add ongoing cover, the upfront charge is less, but then there is a ongoing per month charge.
HomeServe cover a wide range of home services such as heating plumbing and electrics. They also offer packages for landlords which include a boiler service and gas safety certificate . Their combined service cover offers different levels of service at competitive prices, these at the time of writing are:
|Gas Boiler||Gas boiler, gas supply pipe|
|Gas Boiler and Central Heating||Gas boiler, gas supply pipe, gas central heating|
|Heating and Plumbing||Gas boiler, gas supply pipe, gas central heating, plumbing and drainage problems, water supply pipe|
|Heating, Plumbing and Electrics||Gas boiler, gas supply pipe, gas central heating, plumbing and drainage problems, water supply pipe, home’s electrics|
|Heating, Plumbing and Electrics Plus||Gas boiler, gas supply pipe, gas central heating, plumbing and drainage problems, water supply pipe, home’s electrics, security and roofing issues, pest infestations|
Note that these Homeserve emergency covers are for homeowners only, protection for mobile homes, park homes, business premises, council and housing association properties is not available.
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.
Other Providers of Home Emergency Cover
There are a number of other home emergency insurance providers, including PlusHeat, 247 Home Rescue, Hometree.
Add-on to Home Insurance
A number of insurers provide home emergency insurance as an add-on to their home insurance cover. Insurers that do this include Direct Line, MORE THAN, AXA UK, NFU Mutual and Liverpool Victoria (LV=).
We’ve looked at Direct Line and MORE THAN in more detail to explain the sort of cover offered and how the add-on works. The other insurance products will be variations on this, based on their own home insurance products and any specific nuances they have.
Direct Line Home Emergency Cover Add-on
Direct Line 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 (up to £500) and Select Premier (up to £1,500) products, and is an optional extra for the basic Home Insurance product.
Home Emergency cover will cover any incident in the home that:
- Makes it unsafe or unsecure for occupants
- Results in a loss of heating, lighting or water
For example, if your boiler has stopped working, you’ve got an uncontrollable leak or the lock on your front door is broken, that’s an emergency. However, a dripping tap wouldn’t class as an emergency under this cover.
Once authorised, emergency assistance will try and secure your property from further damage. This means, for example, that our repairers may turn off the water supply to stop a leak, but they won’t fully repair the pipe.
Whilst this emergency covers a number of things, it also doesn’t cover some, such as roof damage or repairs, fitting replacement locks or repairing alarm systems. There are others and you’ll need to review all the cover and associated terms and conditions very carefully.
MORE THAN (Trading name of Royal Sun Alliance) Home Emergency Add-on
MORE THAN home emergency can only be taken out as an add-on to Home Insurance. You can get home emergency as standard if you choose the Extra cover. Or you can add it to your policy with Essentials and Standard.
You’ll get access to a 24-hour helpline and approved tradespeople. So you’ll have extra peace of mind if the unexpected happens. You have to use an authorised tradesman for any work and under the policy you have up to £200 of cover
Your boiler must be serviced annually with a registered tradesperson. Boilers over 15 years old or with an output of 60kW or more will not be covered.
The Value of Home Emergency Insurance Policies May Depend on The Age of Your Property
Consumer review websites seem to generally suggest that home emergency insurance is very much 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 new or very modern heating system, it may be more economical to pay for problems as they arise.
Clearly this is a very general view and you need to delve a little deeper.
As part of this, make sure you understand what cover you already have in place before you pay out for any new insurance, whether a standalone package or an add-on to your existing home insurance.
For example, a new boiler comes with a warranty period. This varies by manufacturer but will be at least 2 years. Some manufacturers also offer extended warranty, albeit at a cost and it will invariably require you to have an annual boiler service at your expense.
Some boiler brands, such as Worcester Bosch and Valiant, also now come with a guarantee not just a warranty which means you’re covered for any parts, labour or call-out fees if they go wrong.
Is Buying Home Emergency 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.
Quite simply, 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, or for example you boiler reaches a certain age, you change your cover requirements or through wider economic matters such as inflation.
If your plan creeps up to £30 per month, then you are shelling out £360 every year, and that starts to feel expensive, but as we’ve touched on above you will be getting a wide range of cover for that annual charge.
This is why it’s important you assess the cover and costs based on your own particular home setup and requirements. For example, as we’ve touched the age of your property and boiler could be a factor when thinking about these home emergency insurance plans.
Home electricals are generally reliable (Question for you to answer – have you experienced any electrical issues 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 may be cheaper to fix.
With competition between providers, it 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.
It is also important to decide whether you want to take out standalone home emergency insurance cover, via perhaps the British Gas Homecare® packages or that offered by HomeServe, or whether you want to opt for a Direct Line type add-on to an existing home insurance policy you have.
The choice is yours, but it can certainly pay to shop around. Critically too it is important to decide on the cover you want alongside the cost you can bear and review these policies carefully before signing on the dotted line.
Note: This article is provided for your information only, you need to assess whether a product or service meets your requirements and make your own decision on whether to purchase or not. Information is correct at time of writing.