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How to Choose the Best Boiler Cover or Home Emergency Insurance

From boiler cover to home emergency insurance and home emergency assist … there’s a huge range of different packages available to protect your home should your boiler stop working or your pipes burst. But how do you know which policy’s right for you?

Boiler cover vs. home emergency cover?

The last thing you need when it’s freezing outside is for your heating or hot water to pack up. But, unfortunately, things can – and do – sometimes go wrong.

This is where boiler cover – or home emergency cover – comes in. The best boiler cover packages give you peace of mind that if anything goes wrong with your boiler or heating controls, an engineer will be round to fix it pronto. So you don’t have to go a long time without heating and hot water, and you don't have to fork out for hefty repairs.

The most basic type of boiler cover is for repairs to your boiler and controls only. The more you pay, the more extras you get – for instance, more call-outs. A lower excess. Perhaps a financial contribution towards a replacement boiler if yours can’t be repaired. And so on.

You can also get more extensive types of cover that include more than just your boiler. For instance: do you just want cover if your boiler breaks down? Or do you want to protect your boiler and central heating system – so radiators and hot water tank – too?

What is home emergency cover?

Perhaps you want to go the whole hog and completely safeguard your home against any type of home emergency? If so, you want cover that doesn’t just protect you from repairs or replacement if your boiler or central heating system breaks down. But which also protects you in the event of water pipes bursting, your electrics failing or you’re locked out of home.

These policies are known as home emergency cover. Other names include home emergency insurance, home emergency assistance or home emergency assist. But essentially they all refer to the same thing: a policy that covers you in the event of an unexpected emergency in your home.

Service agreements vs. insurance policies

Many of the best boiler cover 2020 deals that we found on the market – in terms of being the cheapest – weren’t insurance policies. Instead, they’re what’s known as service agreements. And you don’t just get these for boiler cover. You can get service agreements for heating and home emergency cover too.

Does this matter? In most cases, probably not! The key difference between service agreements and insurance products is that the latter are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), but the former aren’t. This doesn’t mean that you won’t get as extensive cover with a service agreement – in many cases, you will. Or that you won’t have to sign a contract with standard terms and conditions – as you will. With FCA-regulated boiler and home emergency insurance policies, you get access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and the Financial Ombudsman Service. Having access to the Financial Ombudsman Service is useful if you need to make a complaint. For most people, the differences are likely to be inconsequential. If in doubt, read the terms and conditions associated with the product. Because this will explicitly state if the product is FCA regulated or not.

What’s the difference between a boiler service plan and boiler cover?

A boiler service plan typically includes an annual service and repairs if your boiler breaks down. Boiler cover policies will protect you in the event of your boiler failing too. But not all will throw in an annual service – particularly the cheapest boiler cover deals. So make sure you scrutinise the small print on any policy to check what you’re signing up for. Did you know you should service your boiler every year?

Did you know you should service your boiler every year?

gas boiler repair engineer with customer in home explaining the problem with a boiler

What’s best: boiler cover or a home emergency policy?

While you can compare endlessly what’s included in different types of home cover, the best policy for you comes down to your approach to risk.

And that’s because insurance (or a service agreement) only comes into its own when things go wrong. So when you have a boiler breakdown. Your drains block up. Or you lock yourself out the house.

What’s home emergency cover best for?

If you’re risk-averse and spend a lot of time worrying about ‘what if’ scenarios involving things going wrong in your home, you’re more likely to want the full protection of a home emergency policy. The same is true if you can’t live without the essentials. For instance if you depend on medical equipment that needs access to power. Or have elderly people in your home who can’t go without heating.

But if your biggest worry is whether you can afford a large repair bill should your boiler break down, consider carefully whether you really need an extensive home emergency policy that also covers everything from dodgy wiring to missing roof tiles. In this instance, a standard boiler cover agreement might be enough to give you the peace of mind you want.

Top tips

As with any financial decision, you should always:

  • Shop around for the best deal;
  • Read the small print on any policy;
  • Check out customer ratings and reviews for any providers.

Which is the best boiler cover?

There are all types of boiler cover – with similar names and similar-sounding policies. So take time to read the small print for each to check exactly what you’re getting cover for. Especially since costs can vary considerably too.

What’s usually included in boiler cover

What's NOT usually included in boiler cover

Repair and replacement of standard parts inside your boiler and related to it – like heating controls, programmers and thermostats (check the small print on any policy for the exact parts)

Radiators, radiator valves, pipework, immersion heaters and underfloor heating

Boiler service (one-off or annual – but not all providers offer this)

Non-standard boilers e.g. oil-fired boilers, LPG, or gas fires (if you don’t have a ‘standard’ gas boiler, search for cover specific to your boiler type)


Items that should be replaced regularly on your boiler – like nozzles, fuses and filters


Routine or regular maintenance – such as venting radiators


Fuel lines to your boiler – including gas leaks between the meter and boiler


Damage caused to your home and its contents from the faulty boiler (e.g. replacing ceilings)


Repairs caused by rust, limescale or other corrosive elements

What’s usually included in central heating cover

What's NOT usually included in central heating cover

In addition to the above, a central heating policy will usually include standard radiators and radiator valves; single water circulating pump; above ground pipework; and a standard hot water cylinder

In addition to the above, an insulation jacket, immersion heater, expansion tank or non-standard radiators (e.g. cast iron, towel rails etc.)

Some providers include an annual boiler service too

Repairing groundwork if any exploratory work is required

What you need to know about boiler cover

Always check the conditions attached to any boiler or heating cover you’re interested in, because this could affect whether you can make a claim. Here are the main things to check for:

Claiming periods

Most policies don’t usually let you claim for at least 14 days from when you begin the cover. This is to prevent you from taking out a policy after something’s gone wrong with your boiler.


Like many financial products, you’ll need to be a homeowner and live in the property that you’re taking out cover for. (If you’re a tenant, your landlord should be responsible for any emergencies in your home – see below). Some policies also specify what type of home you live in. Or request that you don’t leave it unoccupied for long periods of time – for instance, if you spend time living in a second home.

Age of your boiler

It’s usually more tricky to get boiler cover for a boiler that’s older than 10 years. Some providers offer it – but expect to pay more for the policy. Boilers with a high output – often more than 70 kWh – are also harder to insure. And you’ll find there are fewer providers willing to cover non-standard boilers, like an LPG, biomass or oil-fired boiler. So your choice will be limited if you have one of these.

Boiler maintenance

If your boiler hasn’t had the right parts fitted or it’s not been properly installed, you may also experience problems with claiming for any breakdowns.

Policy excess

Most policies have an excess that you’ll need to pay for any callout, regardless of the emergency. Some policies distinguish between types of callouts – e.g. ‘major’ vs. ‘minor’ emergency – and charge more for callouts to the latter type. So check the small print.

Number of callouts

Some providers offer unlimited callouts; others put a limit on how many you qualify for. Check the small print if you’re in doubt.

Amount you can claim

There are also usually maximum payouts for work carried out too. For instance, you're unlikely to be covered for the full cost of a replacement boiler. But you could receive a contribution towards a new one. There might also be caps on the maximum repair costs allowed[1].

Your responsibilities once the policy starts

These types of policies are to protect your home in the event of anything unexpected going wrong. They’re not to help with the general maintenance of your home. So it’s a common requirement that you to have your boiler inspected annually to be able to make any claims. And that you carry out routine jobs on your home – venting radiators, for example – to keep everything in good working order.

Who’s the best boiler cover or home emergency assist provider?

This is for you to decide! But as well as reviewing all policies and reading about a provider’s reputation, consider the following:

  • Do they offer 24x7 support?
  • Do they have experts for your boiler type?
  • Are they Gas Safe engineers? (If they’re not registered with Gas Safe, avoid them)
  • Do they have engineers local to you?
  • How many engineers do they have? If your boiler packs up during freezing temperatures, it’s likely you won’t be the only one putting in a call to your insurer.
boiler engineers installing a new boiler

What’s the cost of boiler or home emergency cover?

Generally, the more things in your home you protect, the more expensive the cover is.

You can find basic boiler cover that starts at £1.99[4] a month – but a boiler service isn’t included at this price. And you should also check the call out fee and any exclusions. More comprehensive policies – that come with a free boiler service – typically cost between £10-£20 a month.

Adding in protection for your central heating increases the cost slightly: from £2.50 a month for a basic central heating package service agreement. Up to £25 a month for more extensive policies – including a free boiler service.

Home emergency assistance is, unsurprisingly, the most expensive of the policy types. Because you’re adding electrics, plumbing and security to the mix. But you can find an entry-level service agreement for about £8 a month. With more feature-heavy policies – which come with an annual boiler service – costing between £16 and £40 a month.

How do you pay for boiler or home emergency cover?

Usually you have a choice of making a one-off annual payment or monthly direct debit payments. The latter is helpful in spreading out the cost, particularly if you’ve taken out a policy to avoid forking out a large sum in the event of your boiler breaking down.

Some providers also offer a discount on the first few months. While others give a discount if you pay upfront. Always check to see if there are any offers or exclusives available.

Is boiler cover worth it?

Let’s look first at the costs for boiler cover…

If you take out the cheapest boiler cover policy above, you’ll spend £23.88 a year. Then you need to add on the cost of a one-off boiler service, which is £72, according to Which?. But the cost can vary depending on where you live, the type of boiler service you pay for and which firm does the service. So the real cost of a one-off service might be anywhere between £70 and £135[5].

For argument’s sake, let’s assume a boiler service costs £100.

So you’ll have spent £23.88 + £100 over the year = £123.88

Boiler repairs are expensive – and new boilers even more so. According to uSwitch research, the average boiler repair bill comes in at £270. And one in five homes are unlucky enough to experience a boiler breakdown every year[6].

So if your boiler breaks down and you make a callout, you’ll need to pay an excess. For the policy above, this is £95. So your yearly total comes to £218.88.

And the good news – assuming you don’t need any new parts – is that you will have saved just over £50 for a standard boiler repair.

Looking at the most expensive boiler cover available on the market, the costs work out as follows:

£20.45 x 12 months = £245.40

This policy includes a free boiler service and there’s no excess to pay. So again, you’ll have saved – assuming it’s a standard repair that costs approx. £270 and you don’t need any new parts – just under £25.

These examples also demonstrate that it’s worth diving into the small print. Since the £1.99 policy seems far cheaper when you compare just the monthly cost. But add in the excess and boiler service, and there’s far greater discrepancy between the overall costs of the two policies if you need to make a claim.

This is particularly true if you’re unlucky to need a boiler replacement. For a decent boiler, you can expect to pay from £1,500 up to more than £3,000[7].

With the cheapest policy on the market (above), there’s no financial contribution towards the cost of a new boiler. So you’ll need to cover the cost in its entirety (unless you’re eligible for the government’s ECO scheme – in which case you might be able to get a grant to help). While with the most expensive policy (above), you get a £250 contribution towards the cost of a new boiler.

What about home emergency insurance?

Should you have another type of home emergency, the comparison cost varies depending on who you need to call to fix it:

  • For example, if you need an emergency plumber, you can expect to pay between £100 and £180[8]
  • For an electrician, the emergency cost is typically £80 or more[9]
  • Replacing some roof tiles – to avoid a leak – could cost between £100 to £200[10]
  • For a pest infestation, you’re looking at spending £150 to £200 for a day – but if it’s to remove a single wasp’s nest, it could be as low as £55[11]
  • And an emergency locksmith costs about £65 an hour[12].

So it’s worth considering what type of emergency you’re most worried about occurring – and the likelihood of you making a claim. There are also alternatives to consider…

What are your alternatives to boiler and home emergency cover?


If your boiler is still under warranty, you might get the cost of any replacement parts covered by the manufacturer. And even if you’ve got an ‘older’ boiler, it might be worth checking if this is the case. For instance, all Worcester Bosch Lifestyle boilers come with a 12 year guarantee as standard. Or it might be that your installer provided an extended warranty as part of a special deal – so dig out the paperwork before you call in a specialist.

As with any warranty, there will be some qualifying criteria. For example, you’ll need to have registered your warranty when you had the boiler installed. And usually get it serviced annually too. Read more in our Boiler service guide.

Don’t forget: if you get any repairs done, always check if any replacements parts are covered under warranty for at least the first 12 months.

And remember: it’s not just boilers that come with a warranty. Other items in your home might also come with some sort of protection. But the boiler is the big ticket item in most households – and the one most likely to go wrong.

Home insurance

Certain emergencies are often covered by your buildings insurance. For example, if some of your roof tiles come off in a storm. But it can be a grey area... As damage inside your house from a leaking roof might be classed as accidental damage instead[13] and, therefore, not covered unless you’ve taken out this extra cover.

Some home insurance policies include home emergency cover as standard. But make sure you check exactly what’s included. For example, you might find out you have cover in the event of a plumbing or electrical emergency; but not if your boiler packs in. And because boilers can easily go wrong, it’s pretty standard for boilers to be excluded from most standard home insurance packages. Read more in our Boiler service guide.

In many cases, you can buy boiler or home emergency cover as an optional extra with your home insurance policy[14]. Usually for a one-off extra £12 to £50, depending on the policy and features. The benefit of buying it combined with your insurance though is that it’ll be FCA-regulated, so you get extra protection should your insurer go bust or you get into a dispute.

Some insurers offer home emergency cover for free as a special offer (e.g. when you buy combined building and contents insurance). Check what offers might be available and also the small print. As you might find there are higher callout charges or excess to pay when it’s bundled into your home insurance. Or that the cover isn’t as comprehensive as you could get from a standalone policy.

Bank account

Did you know that you could get free home emergency cover with your bank account? If you pay a monthly fee for a ‘packaged bank account’ – a current account where you get perks – you could find you’ve already got home emergency cover.

Most of these offer pretty comprehensive cover e.g. help with boiler breakdowns or electrics that keep on tripping. But – as always – check for exclusions. And remember: many of these bank accounts require a minimum income level paid into the bank account. So you’ll need to meet this qualifying criteria too.

Best boiler cover for landlords

It’s not just homeowners who can get boiler cover. Landlords can also take out a boiler policy to protect themselves – and their tenants – in the event of a boiler breakdown.

The best landlord boiler cover deals provide comprehensive support in the event of a breakdown. But – as with homeowner policies – the cost varies depending on what features they include and exclusions. For example – whether there’s an excess to pay per callout; how many callouts you’re entitled to and if there’s a maximum claim amount for repairs.

Scrutinise different policies to compare the details. If you take out a policy with a boiler service included, make sure it includes a CP12 Gas Safety Certificate and Inspection. Because it’s a legal requirement for landlords to have a gas safety check every year in their rental properties.

Are you a tenant?

If so, it’s your landlord’s responsibility to repair or fix your boiler, or deal with any emergencies that occur in your home – not yours. Check your tenancy agreement to find out how they’ll help in an emergency.

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