What is deemed as an emergency will vary based on the policy and the insurer. However, most home emergency insurance policies will define an emergency as something that:
- Makes your home unsafe or an easy target for thieves
- Can cause permanent damage to your property
- Causes a risk to your health
What does it cover?
The most common issues where a home emergency cover policy is beneficial are:
Plumbing and Drainage
Your policy should cover you for any issues that may occur with your plumbing and drainage, such as burst pipes. Most policies can also cover your:
- Toilet if it is broken and you do not have another in your home
- Shower if it develops a serious leak
- Stopcock, as long as it is within the property boundaries
If an electrical failure happens that makes it extremely difficult for you to stay in your home, then your emergency policy should cover this. This would usually include any failures involving the wiring to your lighting or boilers, or if there are damages to your permanent electrical supply. Most policies won’t cover any wiring that is outside of your property or is temporary.
Boiler and Central Heating System
Whilst a boiler is typically involved in a home emergency cover policy, most insurers will limit the amount you can claim for boiler repair costs. It may be more beneficial and cheaper to have a separate boiler insurance policy. This will include access to an emergency helpline you can call at any time if your boiler breaks down.
Your policy may include cover for infestations such as:
In these instances, your insurer would arrange for a professional exterminator to come to your home and deal with the pests. In some cases, they may need to fumigate your home, and therefore you could claim the cost of alternative accommodation.
How to get Home Emergency Cover
If you already have a home insurance policy, then emergency cover may be available as an optional add on. You should always compare this to other standalone home emergency policies too, as you might receive better cover for your home at a better price.
You should also consider:
- What level of cover you might need.
- What you want covered
Once you know the above, you can compare home emergency cover policies to find the one that will give you the right kind of cover for the best price.
Is Home Emergency Cover worth it?
If you are considering Home Emergency Cover, you should check your home insurance policy first. It may be the case that you already have the necessary protection as part of your buildings or contents insurance.
Many home insurance providers will include home emergency cover as part of their standard policies or give you the option to add it. In some cases, however, it may still be cheaper to have a standalone home emergency policy than to have it as an optional extra.
Home emergency insurance will usually pay for the call out costs, parts, labour and VAT up to a fixed limit. Unlike claiming on your home insurance, with home emergency policies is there’s usually no excess to pay.
British Gas Homecare, for example, offers a number of ‘maintenance packages that gives you access to ‘unlimited’ engineer visits without any extra call out charges. However, with costs starting from £12 a month (£124 a year), it still may not be worth the cost to you.
For example, if you have only just had a new boiler installed, you may not need home emergency cover as you are unlikely to have any significant issues and you’re probably covered by a 5-6 year warranty.
Alternatively, if you have an old boiler, but everything else in your house is relatively new or covered by your regular home insurance, then it may be better for you to opt for a specific boiler insurance policy instead.
Home Emergency Cover Complaints
Home emergency insurance doesn’t come without its complaints. Many customers have been quoted hundreds of pounds worth of improvement works to qualify for the likes of British Gas homecare cover in the first place. Some people also discover their claims are being turned down because the insurer doesn’t approve workers they get in, or they already have cover under their home insurance policy — and so are paying twice needlessly.
If you are a British Gas homecare customer, you may have experienced very long wait times even to have an engineer come out and are then left wondering what you are also paying for. You can complain directly with British Gas; however, you may be subject to long wait times for a response from customer service. After eight weeks of submitting an issue to British Gas directly without response, you then have the right to send your case to Ombudsman Services for electricity or gas dispute.