Heating & Boiler Cover: What to look for
A working boiler and central heating are essential in keeping you and your family warm during the colder months. Boiler cover can help ensure that any problems with your heating system are dealt with quickly and at a reasonable cost. Find out what to look for in a cover plan with this Selectra guide.
The best boiler cover for your needs
Before comparing boiler cover options, you'll should first know what type of boiler you have, to figure out which type of plan would be best for you.
Next, you should start thinking about exactly what you're looking for in a boiler care plan. Even if you have emergency cover included in your home insurance policy, this can be very limited and may not fully cover heating breakdowns.
Some policies will make you pay the excess amount if repair costs exceed their minimum limit. Many insurers won't even provide boiler servicing and inspection. To top it off, if your boiler is very old, a lot of insurers won’t even cover it! Ensure your boiler remains covered.
To avoid a huge boiler service bill, you’ll want to compare boiler cover offers. Bear in mind that there are several factors that can affect the cost of boiler repair. However, there’s no need to spend all winter scouring the web for the best deals. We’ve studied reviews of some of the most popular providers and narrowed down what you need to know to pick the best boiler cover for you.
Boiler breakdown cover - what to look for, cost and limits
Boiler cover is there to protect you and your home in case of an emergency involving your electric or gas boiler, which your household depends on for hot water and central heating.
Let’s take at some of the most common boiler issues and their causes, before comparing boiler cover options currently on the market.
What could be wrong with my boiler?
These are some of the most common boiler problems experienced by households across the UK:
- No Heat or Hot Water. This is typically due to an issue with boiler pressure or your thermostat. You may have a broken diaphragm, airlock or valve that needs to be a replaced.
- Leaking and Dripping. Your boiler may be leaking water due to a broken internal component, such as a pressure valve or pump seal. Either the pressure is too high or a component has corroded and needs replacing. Dripping water could pose a serious health hazard in the kitchen where you have electrical appliances on the worktops.
- Rumbling noise. If you hear a strange rumbling or gurgling noise, it’s usually due to a build-up of limescale or sludge in your boiler that has restricted the flow of water within the heat exchanger.
- Pilot light goes out. If the small blue flame that’s usually kept alight keeps going out, its cause may be a broken thermocouple, a draught or a deposit build-up.
Why do boilers break down?
In addition to the age of the boiler and a lack of regular scheduled maintenance, here are some common causes of boiler malfunction over time:
- Pipes that move condensation away from the boiler installation running outside the home can freeze and burst during extended periods of cold weather.
- Turning off your boiler over a long period of time, such as in the summer, causes issues once the temperature drops again - especially when it comes to pumps and valves seizing up. Combi boilers are also vulnerable to this.
- Boilers lose efficiency when water pressure is low, which leads to increased wear and tear for many parts. If you have a gas boiler, you need to be especially careful with this issue.
- Over time, pipes in heating systems corrode and build up sludge deposits and sediment which affects water flow, impacting how well your boiler runs.
Homeowners and tenants - who needs what?
Homeowners should seriously consider boiler cover because they are responsible for all boiler replacement and repair costs.
While some home insurance plans will include some form of cover for boilers as part of their emergency coverage at an extra cost, it’s worth looking closely at what is actually in the policy wording. You should take into account the fact that the home emergency options in most insurance policies do not specialise in boiler care.
This means they don’t necessarily cover regular boiler maintenance, which goes a long way towards preventing the inconvenience and expense of an unexpected boiler breakdown. That’s why specialised boiler cover is worth a look.
Tenants don’t need to worry about boiler insurance because landlords are legally obliged to ensure the boiler, radiators, heating system and plumbing are regularly serviced by qualified technicians. Rental properties also need to have yearly gas safety checks done and tenants are entitled to copies of the reports.
If you are a tenant you should talk to your landlord or property manager about your boiler service. For your peace of mind, they should have boiler cover in place, ensure it is maintained and they should know how long any boiler service will take.
What to look for in boiler cover
When choosing the best boiler cover for your home, there are a number of factors you should take into consideration before signing up.
What does boiler insurance cover?
Each policy will vary in what gets covered but here are the main things that you should be looking out for:
- Call-out fees, parts, and labour are taken care of by boiler cover in case of breakdown. The boiler control parts are also included.
- Round-the-clock, 24 hour helplines.
- Annual scheduled service is an option which often comes at an extra cost.
- Insurance can be extended beyond the hot water boiler to cover the heating system and pipes.
Boiler cover does not kick in immediately after purchase. There is an initial cool-off period designed to dissuade people from taking advantage of services offered without commitment to a minimum period of coverage.
What is excluded or limited?
Generally, policy limits revolve around either the number of claims in a given year, or the overall cost of combined claims. Your claims could be limited to a maximum of £1,000 or £2,000 per year. Alternatively, you may only be allowed to file a maximum of once or twice a year.
There are also some boiler cover policies that put a limit on how many hours of labour they cover in a single claim. You should also be aware that if the boiler is over 7 years old or poorly maintained, claim payouts may be limited to a few hundred pounds or declined entirely.
While you can find insurance for all kinds of domestic hot water, gas, solid fuel and oil boilers, you should check the policy documents to ensure the company you pick will actually repair your type of boiler.
Is there an excess to pay?
Most boiler protection policies have a £50 excess. This means that for any claim over £50, the policyholder pays £50 and the boiler insurer will deal with the rest. Claims under that excess amount must be covered by the policyholder without any help from the insurer.
Gas Safe Register
It is essential that anyone who services your boiler is Gas Safe Registered to ensure that they can fix all manner of boiler ailments, from valve failures to combustion issues. These are common types of malfunctions which could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning if left unchecked.
The Gas Safe Register has superseded the previous CORGI scheme since 2009. Its purpose is to ensure that every boiler and heating engineer completes a recognised route of training and assessment and strictly follows health and safety regulations.
Any issues requiring gas or heating repair should always be dealt with by a certified engineer. Under no circumstances should you or an unqualified person attempt any repairs, even if it’s just the heater or thermostat. Aside from the obvious safety issues, if you have a newer boiler any unauthorised repair will void the warranty.
Boiler Repair Cost without boiler cover
Without boiler cover, repairs could start out at anywhere between £200 and £300 for something as basic as fixing the heat exchanger. However, repair costs are difficult to predict accurately, because the age and design of the boiler have as much of an impact on cost as which part of the boiler has malfunctioned.
Older boilers are more difficult, and pricier, to repair because parts are harder to find. You'll also have to pay the labour costs, and many contractors will have a call-out fee, meaning that a minimum needs to be paid for the service no matter the issue.
Regular service, which can prevent serious issues down the line also costs anywhere between £75 and £100. We haven’t even talked about boilers that cannot be repaired and need to be replaced which easily pushes costs into thousands of pounds.
When taking all these potential expenses into account, paying around a fiver or a tenner a month for a working boiler seems more than reasonable.
Landlord Boiler Cover
I’m a Landlord, so boiler cover is not my responsibility… right?
Wrong. Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords are legally obligated to ensure that gas appliances, fittings and chimneys or flues provided for their tenants are safe. This means that you have three main responsibilities:
- Maintenance of gas pipework, appliances and chimney or flues ensuring safe conditions for tenants.
- Gas safety checks every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- Records of the annual gas safety check must be provided to your existing tenants within 28 days of completion. New tenants should receive it upon the start of their tenancy.
Under regulations introduced in April 2018, a landlord can arrange for a gas safety check to be carried out any time from between 10 and 12 calendar months after the previous check. In the meantime, the original check still retains its original expiry date.
Doesn’t my home insurance policy cover the boiler?
If you've already taken out a comprehensive home insurance policy, don’t assume that it gives you full coverage on your boiler. The small print is likely to reveal that you’re limited to home emergency cover.
This usually means that the excess amount (the amount you'd have to pay if the repair costs exceed a fixed amount) will be high. Bear in mind that it won't include scheduled boiler inspections and gas safety checks, which are necessary to prevent any problems from arising in the first place.
If I don't have boiler cover and it stops working, how much would I pay?
Without boiler cover, you will have to pay for both the replacement parts needed for the repair as well as the labour costs.
Can I just get boiler cover when my boiler malfunctions?
Boiler cover for older boilers may exclude claim payouts entirely if your boiler is poorly maintained. Remember that older boilers may not meet the standards required by insurers, and if yours was faulty to begin with, they may not even cover you. That's why you shouldn't wait for a malfunction to happen.
Your policy will also contain a no-claims period to prevent you from making a claim after a set period of time has passed. So if you count on taking out cover on the day your boiler packs in, think again!