Protection against a winter of discontent
According to consumer champions Which? almost a third of boilers break down within six years of installation.
Tot up the cost of an emergency call-out, parts plus labour and you’re up into the hundreds before you can even check the bank balance.
You may groan at the prospect of taking out yet another insurance policy, but boiler cover may be essential to avoid a nasty unexpected hit in the pocket.
· WHAT IS BOILER COVER?
It’s all in the name. The policy will cover the cost of repairs to your boiler if it breaks down.
If you’ve only just had a new boiler installed, cover may not be necessary, as it’ll probably be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.
· WHAT ABOUT MY HOUSEHOLD INSURANCE?
Most home insurance policies don’t include boiler cover. You should check your policy because if you are covered for emergencies the claim limit is unlikely to be sufficient to pay for the full cost of the call out and repairs.
· DO I REALLY NEED BOILER COVER?
As a general rule, if you rent privately or are in council property, forget it. It’s the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the boiler and have it regularly serviced.
· WILL I BE COVERED IF ANYTHING GOES WRONG?
It depends on the insurer. Like all policies they’re riddled with small print exclusions, so you need to navigate your way carefully to ensure you get the cover you need.
Comparisons can be difficult. Think about what you need and don’t be tempted into taking out unnecessary cover.
As well as the extent of the cover, check out the following before signing up:
Will you have access to an emergency helpline 24/7 throughout the year and what is the promised response time?
Is your boiler eligible for cover? Most policies exclude boilers more than 15 years old, and many policies insist on an inspection before you can cover them.
Some providers use this as an excuse to hard sell you a new boiler when your old one is perfectly serviceable, so be aware and shop around.
Look out for no claims traps. Some providers have a 30-day no claims period.
Don’t just go on price, but watch out for cheaper policies which generally only cover emergencies, leaving you to pay for routine checks and repairs. Some bottom end policies include an annual service, others don’t.
Check whether you’re limited to a fixed number of call-outs per year, what the policy lists as an emergency, and any cap on the number of claims.
· SHOULD I BUY COVER THROUGH MY ENERGY SUPPLIER?
Possibly. Many energy companies offer boiler insurance at a discount, but it will come as no surprise that this may not always be the cheapest way to insure your boiler.
Price and service comparison website, uswitch.com, confirms some of the current top deals in our area are provided by Southern Electric and Scottish Power.
Both charge around £13 a month for unlimited cover that includes the boiler, pump, associated controls and annual service safety checks. Not included in these products are flues, system pipe work and system and boiler scale damage.
A British Gas Homecare 100 policy costs £156 a year. It includes the boiler, controls, pump, accidental damage, and an initial inspection and service. The sting in the tail though is tailored pricing after the first year – invariably in the upward direction.