Boiler breakdowns can be a particular concern in the winter months when we need central heating, and few of us can afford to spend hundreds of pounds on repairs.
One way to spread the cost of repairing your boiler is to take out boiler cover, but it’s not necessarily something every homeowner should do.
Here, we look at how boiler cover works, who might benefit from taking out a policy, and the pros and cons.
What is boiler cover?
Also known as boiler insurance, boiler cover is a type of insurance that’s designed to help meet the cost of repairing your boiler if it breaks down, with the extent of your cover depending on the type of policy that you choose.
Like many insurance policies, most boiler cover will have a no-claim period, which means that you won’t be able to make a claim for a set amount of time when you first take out the policy. This is in place to prevent people from taking out a policy only when they know they need to pay for emergency repairs.
The biggest benefit of boiler cover is that it can provide reassurance that if your boiler needs repairing, you won’t have to foot a large, unexpected bill. However, bear in mind that if you don’t make a claim, you’ll have paid hundreds of pounds to your insurer for nothing. Additionally, boiler cover policies don’t include paying out for the cost of boiler replacements. So if you have cover and your boiler can’t be repaired then you’ll still have to pay for it to be replaced, which can cost thousands of pounds.
What are the different types of boiler cover?
There are two main types of boiler cover:
This is the cheapest and most basic type of insurance, generally only covering the boiler, its controls, and the parts and labour needed to fix it. With the majority of heating system claims being down to a faulty boiler, this is probably enough cover for most people. However, if the fault stems from parts that are outside of the boiler itself, such as leaking pipes, then you won’t be covered.
Boiler and central heating cover
This is a more comprehensive type of boiler cover, which includes all of the features of boiler-only cover, plus insurance against your wider heating system, such as radiators, pipes, and so on. This type of cover is more expensive than boiler-only, and some policies will extend the cover further to include plumbing and drains too if you’re willing to pay more.
Both types of cover are likely to require that you get your boiler serviced annually. Some policies will include the cost of this within their premiums, but with others you might have to arrange it yourself, so it’s a good idea to check the fine print.
How much does boiler cover cost?
Boiler cover doesn’t come cheap, but the exact amount you’ll pay will depend on the type of boiler you have and its age.
According to research by the consumer association Which?, the average boiler cover policy costs around £265 a year, or a little over £22 a month. However, when you consider that getting an emergency repair on your boiler could cost you anywhere from £222 to £600, with the average emergency repair costing £410, according to Checkatrade, this may not seem such a bad deal.
Many insurers will place limits on the amount they are willing to pay towards the cost of boiler repairs and the labour involved. Each insurer is different, but the maximum amount most insurers are willing to pay is £1,000 to £1,500 per claim. They might also place limits on the number of claims or call outs you can make each year, so always make sure to check the fine print before buying.
As with other types of insurance, you’ll usually need to pay an excess each time you make a claim, but this can vary considerably, so make sure you understand exactly what you’re expected to pay when making a claim, before you sign up.
Things to check before getting boiler cover
Before you get boiler cover, it’s worth asking yourself the following:
Do you need it?
You’ll only need to think about getting boiler cover, or some sort of insurance on your heating system, if you’re a homeowner. If you’re renting, boiler repairs are your landlord’s responsibility.
Are you already insured?
There are other types of insurance that might also provide cover for your boiler. Policies such as home emergency cover, and buildings and contents insurance, may include cover for your boiler. However, boilers aren’t usually automatically covered, and you may have to pay extra for it, so check with your insurer if you’re not sure.
Would it be better to save towards potential repairs?
For many people, standalone boiler cover is rarely a cost-effective option, especially if you are paying for it year after year without making a claim.
Instead of paying monthly premiums each month, you might want to consider setting aside the same amount of money into an easy access savings account so you can ‘self-insure’. This means you can build up an emergency fund to be used if your boiler breaks down, rather than paying for cover you might not use. It may take some time to build up a savings pot, but as interest rates have soared in the past year, there are some attractive rates on offer, with the best easy-access savings account offering 2.85% AER.
Are there any requirements for the validity of your policy?
The majority of boiler cover policies have caveats that you’ll need to meet in order for your policy to be valid.
These will often include:
- Having your boiler regularly serviced – 94% of policies require you to have your boiler serviced for your policy to be valid, according to data from Defaqto. The frequency will vary depending on the policy, but generally, it will be anywhere between every 12 to 36 months.
- Your boiler must be under a certain age – Lots of policies won’t cover boilers over 15 years old, but again the exact age your policy covers will vary from insurer to insurer.
- Boiler output – some policies set limits on the output of your boiler, usually with an upper limit of between 44kw and 75kw. So if you have a larger home with a bigger boiler to meet its needs, you might need to check your eligibility carefully.
Whether boiler insurance is worth paying for depends on your personal circumstances and preferences. As ever, if you think you need a policy, make sure you check the small print so you’re clear on exactly what is and isn’t covered, and always compare several different policies before buying so you can be certain you’ve found the best possible deal.
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