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Boiler Cover Avoid your energy provider's cover & save £100s

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Boiler CoverEnergy providers such as British Gas and EDF use our fear of losing heating or hot water to jack up prices of boiler breakdown cover.

Yet with just 10 minutes' work, you can cut almost £100/year off the cost, with a cheaper standalone insurer. This guide shows you how.


Who needs boiler cover?

There's absolutely no point in shelling out for cover if you don't have to - it depends on what company is in charge of heating your home. Quite simply...

Only homeowners need to consider boiler cover.
If you rent, it's not your responsibility.

There are a few other things worth knowing. There's more in our Home Insurance Tricks guide.

  • Some property types can't be insured. For example, mobile homes, bedsits and commercial properties are often excluded from cover.
  • Get a gas safety certificate. Whether you own or rent, insist on one of these when moving in. Then each year you (or your landlord) should have safety checks carried out by a Gas Safe-registered fitter on boilers and other gas appliances.
  • Is it covered by your home insurance? Some contents insurance will include boiler cover, either as standard or a paid-for extra. Check with your provider beforehand to avoid being double-covered or use our Home Insurance guide to find an insurer that would.
  • Renting? How long would you be in the cold for? If you rent or live in social housing, you don't need to buy cover. But it's vital to establish how long you'd be left in the cold if the heating and boiler were to break down.

    If it'd take two days or more to get fixed, ask for that time to be cut. After all, if you're paying rent, you're entitled to have a home that, at the very least, is well-heated.
  • Older boilers may not be insurable. Most plans require a boiler to be below a certain age, usually seven years-old, when the cover is bought. Others will request a boiler inspection before granting cover. If yours is old, you may want to consider the cost of buying a new boiler.

    Even if you do get cove, your boiler may be excluded from being replaced if it goes totally kaput. You could also find your old boiler system doesn't meet the standards requested by your insurance provider, in which case you'll probably have to pay extra to get your heating system revamped before being offered cover.

What level of cover do you need?

Not all policies are the same, so when picking one, always double-check the conditions to check the policy suits you, and make sure you're not under or over-covered. But first, here are the big things to consider when picking a policy...

Best buys: Finding the cheapest cover

Before you start looking for insurers, one big fact is utterly vital.

You don't have to use your energy provider's boiler cover!

Just because you get your gas or electricity from one supplier doesn't mean you need its insurance too. They often craftily try to link the two, but that's usually nonsense. This is an open market and you want to get your hands on the best policy at the cheapest price. Also remember to regularly compare to ensure you've got the cheapest gas and electricity tariffs.

By avoiding energy providers' cover, you can almost halve the price, saving nearly £100/year. Helpfully, a few specialist web and phone services will do the comparison for you. Just give them your details and you'll get a result in about 10 minutes. The price will depend on your boiler and fuel type, plus the level of cover. You may want boiler-only, or central heating too.

STEP 1: FIRST CHECK TOP COMPARISON SITES

The comparison sites below are good for boiler cover comparisons, but not necessarily for other products. Check the Cheapest Gas & Electricity for advice on those products.

uSwitch for range and power

The widest, most powerful comparison is offered by uSwitch*, and it only takes a couple of minutes. Enter basic home and boiler details and it will return quotes based on the age and model of your boiler, excluding policies that won't cover you.

It doesn't cover every insurer, so it's worth trying a couple more below to ensure you get the widest reach.

Extra comparisons to increase your quotes

A couple of extra comparison sites worth looking at to increase the number of insurers searched but they only list policies worth investigating further - they don't provide quotes based on your info.

Energyhelpline* is a less functional search and includes fewer providers. But it's still worth checking as it covers different firms to uSwitch.

If you've time, check MoneySupermarket's* listings to see if any policies suit what you're after.

STEP 2: GET QUOTES FROM THE ONES THEY MISS

Some providers or their offers aren't always included in comparisons, so for full belt 'n' braces you should get a quote from some of these too.

HES - Unlimited callouts

HESHome Energy Services (formerly a division of E.ON) offer a number of Central Heating Care offerings in a range of shapes and sizes.

The cheapest is £9.98 per month (usually £18.50/mth) and you pay nothing towards the cost of repair. For the all-encompassing policy, including water and electrics, it comes in at £19.98/mth (usually £29/mth)

These premiums are only for new customers in the first year. At renewal, you will then receive a renewal notice stating a change of premium.

It's also worth being aware this is actually a 'service agreement', not insurance - read How am I protected? for an explanation of what this means.

Npower (includes annual service/ boiler check)

nPowerThis energy providers breakdown cover is on comparison sites but does not always appear in the search results so is worth a check.

The Npower Hometeam* Boiler Care Flexi costs £10.45/mth for the first year (usually £12.50/mth). It includes an annual boiler service & safety check, unlimited call-outs and repairs (£50 excess/call which is relatively standard). This is open to anyone, including non-Npower customers.

If you are looking for that bit more cover, with no call- out fees, the Hometeam Central Heating Care* contract will also cover the central heating system, and your controls, at £15.50 a month for the first year (usually £19 per month).

This is actually a 'service agreement', not insurance. Read How am I protected? for an explanation of what this means.

Plus a few home emergency policies to consider

A home emergency policy looks at more than just boiler cover. Central heating and hot water, burst pipes, blocked drains, leaking roofs, broken windows and overnight accommodation are likely automatic inclusions. But the maximum amount that'll get paid out if you need your boiler fixed is much lower.

Direct Line - Home Response 24

Direct LineDirect Line* has a Home Response 24 policy which is not included in any comparison sites, so you must go direct to check its prices.

It's an emergency policy so won't cover everyday problems, but it does have a 24-hour call-out line, and you have the choice to get initially get cover just for your plumbing and drainage or just for your electrics.

Swinton Home Emergency from £5/month

USwitchSwinton offers two options: a £4.99/month Home Emergency policy and a £6.99/mth option which adds cover for glass, locks and roof damage. Both currently offer three months' free cover.

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Alternatives to buying cover

There are ways to avoid shelling out every year for an insurance policy, ranging from an expensive one-off investment to the equivalent of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.

What happens if my insurer goes bust?

This is actually a bit more complicated (annoyingly) than standard procedures when companies go bust. This is boiler cover falls under one of two types: insurance policies and service agreements.

First, is yours insurance or a service agreement?

Working out whether your policy is insurance or a service agreement is crucial to understanding the protection. It's also annoyingly tricky.

If you're using a comparison site, then they often state the level of protection. If not, make sure you ask the provider directly, and check if it's listed on the Financial Conduct Authority's register as an insurer.

If a service agreement, you've no protection

Service agreements - such as Npower's boiler cover - aren't regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). So if the company goes under, you've no recourse to a compensation scheme. There's no central pool of cash to claim your money back from.

Any protection you have relies on the provider's solvency - how likely is it to go bust? The risk is minimal with massive energy companies, but if it's a small insurer you've not heard of before, perhaps you should think twice.

How it works if yours is an insurance policy

If it's proper insurance, providers regulated in the UK are covered by the same Government-backed Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) as banks, meaning if they go into default, you're protected. There are two main ways in which it protects you.

  1. If you need to claim from a bust insurer

    The FSCS's main objective is to "maintain continuity". This means if your insurer goes bust, it will try to find another provider to take over your policy, or issue a substitute policy. But if you have any ongoing claims, or need to make a claim before a new insurer is found, the FSCS should ensure these are covered.

  2. If it goes bust and you paid upfront

    If you've paid for cover for a year, but the company goes bust after a month or two, then you would lose out.

    To protect against that, if the FSCS can't transfer your policy to another provider, you'll be given a period of time to take out alternative insurance, and 90% of any money you've already paid will be refunded as compensation via the FSCS. To help explain, here's a quick example...

    You paid for a year-long policy in January and the insurer went bust in September. If the FSCS can't get the policy transferred elsewhere, then you will receive four months' compensation of the original cost.

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