WITH the weather taking a turn for the worst and thermostats being turned up a notch, you may be wondering whether it’s worth forking out for cover in case your boiler packs up this winter.
But while this could give you great peace of mind, it often comes with a hefty price tag – making it seem like rather an expensive luxury.
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Is it a price worth paying?
If you’ve suffered the misfortune of trying to call out a plumber on a cold night when you’re stuck without heating or hot water, you may soon justify the cost – especially given a boiler repair can soon run into hundreds of pounds, while a replacement can cost a few thousand.
If you are set on getting this cover, where do you start?
Types of cover
Options include home emergency insurance and boiler breakdown insurance.
Home emergency insurance covers a range of emergencies that affect the home. It is designed to help people who have been hit by an emergency to make their home safe again – or reinstate essential services.
Boiler breakdown policies are specifically designed to protect a boiler against the cost of future breakdown.
Primarily, these products cover the cost of any repairs, and many also include an annual inspection. Some include replacing the boiler if it cannot be repaired.
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Check what cover is already in place
Before parting with any cash, you need to check your paperwork, as if you have a new boiler, this may still be under a manufacturer’s warranty – or a tradesman guarantee.
You should also check your home insurance, as some policies may include some form of home emergency cover.
That said, recent analysis by Defaqto revealed that only a fifth of home insurance policies cover home emergencies – such as boiler breakdown – as standard.
If your policy doesn’t offer this, your insurer may allow you to add home emergency cover as an “optional extra”. You may be able to do this for just a few pounds a month.
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How are premiums priced?
Premiums are based on boiler type and age. In terms of make, quality boilers with a good reputation for reliability include those from Worcester Bosch and Vaillant.
When it comes to age, it’s worth noting that some boiler breakdown policies will exclude models which are more than 15 years old. Others may have lower age limits of 10 – or even seven – years.
Also note that where cover is offered for older models, payouts may be less generous than for newer ones.
With this in mind, a home emergency cover policy may be more suitable if you have an older boiler, as it will cover a wider range of emergencies, such as internal plumbing and drainage, electrical failure, roof damage and pest infestations.
Costs can vary considerably
When purchasing boiler insurance, you need to tread carefully, as costs can vary depending on the system you have installed, and the level of cover you want.
Generally speaking, the newer the boiler, the cheaper premiums tend to be.
But be wary of rushing to sign up to the cover offered by your energy provider, as you need to compare prices to check you're not paying over the odds. The same applies if you get home emergency cover as a “benefit” with your packaged account.
As a rough guide, premiums may start from around £2 a month, but many policies cost closer to £20 a month – meaning an annual cost of more than £200.
The key is to check exactly what you are getting for your premium to work out whether you will get value for money.
Things to think about
• Consider whether you want boiler-only cover – or cover for your central heating system and plumbing.
• Decide whether you want unlimited callouts.
• Check for exclusions, such as the age of the boiler, the power output, and whether it needs to be regularly serviced.
• Check the excess – especially with lower-cost policies.
• Check the cover limits, and whether there is a restriction on the number of repairs you can claim for in a year.
What’s the alternative?
If you don’t think it’s worth paying for boiler cover – or home emergency cover – you may want to “self-insure” instead. This involves you putting aside some money each month to cover the cost of a potential breakdown.
This means you can then pay a heating engineer or plumber to carry out boiler repairs as and when needed, rather than sign up to a contract. For some individuals, this may be a lot cheaper.
Keep your boiler in tip-top condition
A simple way to try and avoid a boiler breakdown in the first place is by getting your boiler regularly serviced to keep it operating safely and efficiently.
A well-maintained boiler costs less to run, and with a cost of around £100 for a standard service, this can work out a lot cheaper than paying for costly repairs.
When arranging a service, always use a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Replace your old boiler with a modern model
If your boiler is approaching the end of its useful life, it may be time to think about investing in a new energy-efficient model. The initial outlay may not be cheap – modern boilers typically cost £2,500 – but you could soon make savings on your annual energy bills.
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