Some home insurance policies include home emergency cover, whilst others won't cover your boiler and heating at all in the event of a breakdown.
On 2 October, , Gocompare. The cost and type of policy you opt for should depend on the age of your boiler and central heating.
Appliances installed a long time ago might be less reliable than newer versions and replacement parts might be difficult to get hold of, so comprehensive cover might be the most cost-effective option, if not the cheapest. If you have an old system, be extra wary when it comes to the terms and conditions - there may be exclusions, and it's possible that your provider will not guarantee that they can fix your existing system.
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If you're tempted, make sure you do your own, independent research - only you can decide when it makes sense to change your system, and you should shop around for the right deal on hardware and installation. If your boiler or central heating system was recently replaced, remember that it might still be under guarantee. If the guarantee has expired but the heating system is still relatively new, it might be worth considering the minimum level of cover available, on the basis that emergencies are less likely to occur. If you have taken out boiler cover, bear in mind that most policies auto-renew and premiums may rise in the second year and beyond - regularly shop around to make sure you're getting the right deal.
Pricing policies will vary significantly between different providers. For example, SSE told Gocompare. Npower said that it lowered prices in the first year as part of an 'introductory offer', and a spokesperson said: This 'non-insurance product' distinction is important - whether or not your boiler cover is classed as insurance or a 'service agreement' will affect the level of cover and protection you receive if your provider goes bust. If your boiler cover is a service agreement, like Npower's, then it isn't regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FCA and so you'll be left wanting if the company goes under.
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British Gas on the other hand operates what it calls a 'risk-based pricing approach', meaning that for some customers prices increase while for others they drop. When researching boiler cover options offered by the big six in December , information on how much their cover was likely to increase or decrease by in the second year - what the 'undiscounted' price was, as some providers would put it - was hard to come by.
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Boiler and home heating cover specialist Homeserve and Npower were the only providers we spoke to that clearly stated the likely price of cover in the second year to customers on their websites. The cost of cover doubled in the second year with Homeserve, but spokesman John Greaves pointed out that they made it clear what the second year price was likely to be.
Self-insuring is where you save money into a contingency savings account instead of paying a premium to an insurance provider. If your heating breaks down and you need to pay a call-out charge or spend money on repairs, the cash will be there waiting. However, some homeowners might consider this too much of a gamble and would prefer the peace of mind that the right home heating cover plan can bring. According to a survey by Gocompare. One of the main arguments for specific heating cover ahead of self-insuring is the convenience of having an emergency helpline with rapid access to trained engineers.
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If you are going to buy boiler cover, we recommend that you get a policy with an annual service. An annual service is essential to keep your boiler running safely and efficiently. The priciest packages include, as well as an annual service, repairs for central heating, plumbing, wiring, drains and waste pipes. They can even include electrical cover and pests. Of the 56 home insurance packages we checked in July , 46 included basic boiler emergency cover as standard. You could add it as an optional extra to a further seven.