Covering your Boiler Against Potential Problems
What is boiler insurance?
Boiler insurance is a contract with a boiler maintenance provider that will ensure that should you have problems with your boiler a fully qualified boiler engineer will be sent out (usually within 24 hours) in order to fix the problem with the boiler. The cost for boiler insurance can be spread over the course of a year by monthly premiums or you could choose an annual payment. There are different types of boiler cover available, some more comprehensive than others, but they all tend to include free call-outs, parts and labour as part of the insurance contract.
Is boiler cover worth it?
First of all you need to be a home owner for it to be worth taking out a boiler maintenance contract. If you are renting a property it is the responsibility of the landlord to look after the upkeep and smooth running of the boiler and central heating system.
If you are a homeowner then many people choose to take out boiler maintenance cover. There are several million people in the UK that choose to have their boiler covered by an insurance plan in case things go wrong. The consumer magazine Which? conducted consumer research on why people took out boiler cover and peace of mind was the most important factor that led a person to take out boiler cover.
Generally speaking boilers operate to the highest extent in the colder winter months so if you have a family it can be re-assuring that if something goes wrong with the boiler and the central heating ceases to work in the house then you have a telephone number that you can ring and an engineer will arrive quickly to rectify the fault. The alternative is to ring around local boiler engineers and take a chance on their quality of work.
Boiler maintenance contracts are offered by large national companies such as British Gas, npower and eon so you can rely on a reputable and reliable service with an engineer just at the other end of a telephone.
What types of boiler cover are there?
There are a wide variety of different levels of boiler cover and general central heating maintenance plans that are available on the market but in general these can be split into two distinct types. The first type is boiler insurance that covers just the boiler and its controls, the send type is cover that includes central heating as well as the boiler. This can also include aspects such as plumbing, drains and wiring – generally the more expensive the cover, the most comprehensive it is.
You need to decide exactly what type of boiler cover insurance you need for your home. For example, if your boiler not only heats your home but also provides hot water then you might want to look at boiler and central heating cover.
What to look for as part of getting boiler insurance cover
Type of boiler
It may seem obvious but you need to check that your type of boiler is covered by the boiler insurance plan selected. The most common type of boilers will be covered by all of the boiler maintenance plans so you will be able to get a wide range of quotes for gas boiler cover and combi boiler cover but there will be less of a choice with more uncommon types of boiler so you will have fewer options when choosing oil boiler breakdown cover.
Age of boiler – Some boilers that are over a certain age will not be covered by some plans – usually over 15 years old but this can vary. Check the terms and conditions of the maintenance cover.
Cost – Different maintenance plans will be charged at different rates depending on a number of factors such as how comprehensive the cover is, what type of boiler and/or central heating system is in place, the size of the house, etc. Therefore, weigh up all the factors and choose the cover that best fits your requirements.
No claims period – From the time that you take out the boiler cover and it becomes active you will have a period of time during which you are unable to make a claim under the plan. This can be anything from a couple of weeks through to 30 days. This can be annoying but it is understandable as far as the insurance companies are concerned because it stops people from simply taking out a boiler maintenance plan the day the boiler breaks so bear this in mind and check for the length of the no-claims period.
What is included in the cover – Are parts, labour and call out included free of charge as part of the cover. With some of the cheaper maintenance plans there can be a fixed fee call out charge but repairs are free. Similarly, some plans will offer a replacement boiler if the failed boiler is beyond repair but this can be up to a certain price e.g. £1,500. Also, are there unlimited call outs or is this capped at a certain number per year? Again check exactly what it is you are getting from your plan and take out your cover accordingly.
Speed of repair – A main reason for taking out a boiler cover policy is that you are paying for the peace of mind that when your boiler stops working you will be able to get an engineer to look at the issue and provide the fix as soon as possible. Check if there are guarantees in the policy that state how fast you will get an engineer call out. Also check whether call outs are 365 days a year and that you are able to contact the boiler maintenance company on a 24/7 hotline.
Which companies offer boiler breakdown cover?
Common exclusions that apply to boiler maintenance plans
There are some exclusions that are typical with all boiler insurance policies so you should be aware of these otherwise you could end up paying for an insurance policy that you will never be able to successful claim from.
Main exclusions include:
Boiler age and model – If you have an old boiler or it is an obscure model you may not be able to get the cover you require. Also bear in mind that if you do get boiler cover and continue to renew each year there may be a point in the lifecycle of the policy that you boiler becomes too old to be covered by the policy. Be aware of the age limit of the boiler and don’t expect your insurance policy company to point this out to you.
Number of engineer call-outs – Some policies limit the number of times an engineer can be called out per year. Often there is a cap of 2 or 3 times per year. On the other hand there are plans that offer unlimited free call-outs. The age and reliability of your boiler should dictate whether you need the unlimited call-outs guarantee or not. Generally, the older the boiler the more chance that faults will generate.
Faults that are not covered – There may be certain boiler faults that would not be repaired under the terms and conditions of the policy. Once main fault is a build-up of sludge in the boiler. This would not be typically covered by boiler insurance and would usually mean a full system flush would be required at an additional cost. Annual checks can help to eradicate these types of faults and the good news is that many policies include free annual boiler checks as standard.
Claim amounts – If your boiler is unrepairable or beyond economical repair (which means it would be cheaper to get a new boiler than attempt to repair the old one) then a financial contribution can be claimed from the boiler insurance towards getting a new boiler. This amount could pay for a new boiler in full or the financial contribution could be capped at a particular upper level as noted in the terms and conditions of the policy.
Additional costs – Check whether your policy covers all fees such as labour, call outs and the cost of parts as some boiler cover will include all free of charge whilst others will include either one or the other with some bearing additional fees.
Check that you don’t already have your boiler insured!
It is important that you check to see whether you already have a form of boiler and central heating breakdown cover in place from your existing home insurance policy. Some home insurance policies do cover boiler breakdowns as standard whilst others offer it as an additional add on for an extra premium. Similarly there are some premium bank accounts which offer a selection of discounts and free services that include boiler and heating cover as part of their service.
Your boiler and central heating might already be covered by an insurance policy or under a manufacturer’s or extended warranty but you don’t currently realise it!
Annual boiler service – If you are considering taking out boiler insurance then you might want to consider a plan that includes an annual boiler service. This will involve an engineer testing and checking the boiler each year for faults and can help to ensure that the boiler is running efficiently and safely. It can also help to diagnose any problems that you may be unaware of or prevent future issues from occurring. Many policies offer annual boiler checks as standard free of charge, whilst others will charge a small additional premium.
Boiler cover tips
Getting the right type of boiler cover is an important step because the implications of a broken boiler and no heat or hot water over the colder months is not a pleasant thought for anyone. Replacing or fixing a boiler can be an expensive and difficult process but when left to the professionals via a boiler insurance plan it can be sorted efficiently and quickly all for the cost of a small monthly fee.
In summary, when considering the different boiler maintenance plans available think about the following points:
- Decide whether you need just boiler cover or boiler cover and central heating cover.
- What is the likelihood of a boiler failure? The older the boiler the more likely it will develop faults, although a boiler can fail at any time.
- Ensure that your type, age and model of boiler will be covered by an insurance policy.
- If you are renting you do not need a boiler maintenance plan as this will be the responsibility of the landlord.
- Check that you are not already covered via an existing home insurance plan or warranty.
- Do not wait until your boiler or central heating breaks before taking out a maintenance plan as there will be a no-claims period for a period of time at the start of the policy.
- Look towards getting a policy that includes an annual boiler check or service.
- Your boiler cover can come from any company – it doesn’t have to be your current energy supplier.
- Compare the best boiler cover quotes and after reading the features and small print opt for the most competitive quote that covers your needs.