During 2014’s bitter winter, 20% of homeowners suddenly found themselves without their boiler. According to uSwitch.com, the average cost of repairs was £320. Now consider that the average cost of boiler insurance per year is around £100, so it looks very much like boiler cover is the way to save money.
Unfortunately, for families faced with rising energy (and other) costs, boiler cover may be the first extra expense to hit the cutting room floor. However, this is a risky option because a boiler breakdown in winter would leave you in cold water, perhaps indefinitely if you’re cash-strapped and haven’t got the savings for a plumber to be called in for repairs. It’s wiser to keep the boiler insurance and perhaps begin a boiler-kitty-savings scheme, until you have enough in the kitty to afford an unexpected breakdown or two before you let go of the insurance.
What does £100 boiler insurance buy me?
What you get depends on which policy you go for. Generally, cover includes boiler repairs, parts and labour, annual inspections and unlimited claims and cover throughout the year. You can also take out insurance that covers your entire central heating system, including radiators and pipes, but at a higher premium. It’s important to ask what the exclusions are, because there are all sorts of caveats that you need to be aware of, such as a limit on the cost of repair or hours of labour. Most policies don’t cover old boilers (15 years and older) and boilers over seven years require an inspection before they can be insured.
Excess is sometimes not an option.
Some policies will require you to pay an excess when you claim. Most plans will provide a 24/7/365 helpline to deal with urgent problems, but a precise definition of urgent is difficult to come by. You might think not having hot water for a few hours is ‘urgent’ enough for a plumber to be called in, but your provider may disagree. As is always the case, you get what you pay for, the less you pay the less you get.
How comprehensive is your home insurance?
Check your home insurance policy to find out whether your boiler is included in your cover. If it is, check to see precisely what is covered. It may be just for cases of emergency with various exclusions that apply. The amount payable may also be capped. Some providers let you buy emergency cover on top of your normal insurance and this is generally less expensive than standalone boiler cover.
The chances of boiler breakdown are directly related to its age and condition. Should you decide to go it alone and hope to goodness for a boiler-breakdown free winter, make sure you service your boiler on a regular basis. The average cost is around £62 for an annual service.
Make sure you find a reliable plumber who will keep your boiler in top condition. Schedule your services during summer, when it’s cheaper. Check whether the plumber is Gas Safe registered.