Best Boiler Cover
Save £100s on boiler and home emergency cover
Energy providers use our fear of losing heating or hot water to jack up the price of boiler breakdown cover. And while some of the big six energy suppliers try to flog their own cover at inflated prices, you don't need to go with their offer. With just 10 minutes' work, you could cut costs by using a cheaper standalone insurer. This guide shows you how.
What is boiler cover?
Boiler cover pretty much does what it says on the tin – it's an insurance policy you buy to cover the cost of getting your boiler working again if it breaks. But there are several different levels of cover to choose from:
- Boiler-only cover. This is the starting level of cover, and is usually the cheapest. It typically covers only the boiler and its controls. A majority of central heating claims are down to a broken boiler, but if the problem is outside the 'white box', this sort of cover won't help.
- Boiler and central heating cover. Here you get the same protection as boiler-only cover, but these types of policies also cover you if, for example, pipes, radiators and central-heating pumps break.
- Boiler, heating, plumbing, drains and home electrics cover. This would be classed as high-end cover, and so tends to be more expensive. Here you'd be covered for all central-heating repairs, plus burst pipes, blocked drains and electrical repairs. It's slightly different to the home emergency cover below, as this policy would also cover repairs that aren't considered an emergency.
- Home emergency. Broadly, this tends to cover your boiler and central heating, plus also provide help for floods, pest infestation and more. As the name suggests, it tends to cover emergencies.
As a rule of thumb, it's an emergency if your health is at risk, your home is uninhabitable or further immediate damage could occur to your home if it's not fixed. For example, this could be if you've a burst pipe and can't turn off the water supply, or your boiler's broken and it's zero degrees outside.
Whichever level of cover you opt for, always double-check what you're getting and closely inspect the conditions to make sure the policy suits you, and you're not under or over-covered.
The more likely your boiler is to break down, the more likely you will need a policy that covers more than the basics. The amount you can claim in the event of your boiler going caput varies from product to product. Don't assume cover is unlimited, so always read the small print. Some only pay for costs up to a certain level per claim and per year (usually £1,000 or £1,500) or limit the number of call-outs within 12 months.
So, assess the likelihood of problems. If you're in a new house with relatively new, reliable equipment, then a cheap policy covering the bare essentials and modest payout limits should do. But if you've an old, unreliable and noisy boiler, and a heating system to match, then go for more comprehensive cover, with higher maximum claim amounts and as many annual call-outs as possible.
In some cases, an engineer will come round and won't be able to fix your boiler.
Replacing a boiler often costs £1,000s, but some policies will give you a contribution towards the replacement. So, if you're getting a new policy, and your boiler's a little on the old side, check if it includes a contribution towards the cost of a replacement boiler. Many policies offer between £250-£750, though you're unlikely to get anything with a basic boiler-only policy.
If you're on a low income, and you can't afford a new boiler, you may be able to get help with costs. Check if you're eligible in the Free Insulation & Boilers guide. Plus, check out our Grant Grabbing guide to see if you're eligible for help with heating costs.
Plans usually provide a 24-hour, 365-day helpline to call when you have an urgent heating or hot water problem. They usually cover the cost of the call-out, repairs, parts and labour.
It's possible you'll only be covered for the first two or three hours of labour costs – so double-check before the call-out. The last thing you want is a hefty bill if it takes all day. Also, not all companies guarantee they'll send an engineer the same day.
Boiler cover need-to-knows
There's absolutely no point in shelling out for cover if you don't have to – it depends on who's in charge of heating your home. So the first question to ask is whether you need it at all. Quite simply...
Only homeowners need to consider boiler cover.
If you rent, it's not your responsibility.
Even if you don't need to buy cover, always check with your landlord BEFORE you sign the rental contract what cover is in place so you know how long you'd be left in the cold if the heating and boiler were to break down.
Here are the rest of the need-to-knows:
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 Cheap Home Insurance guide to find an insurer that offers this cover as part of the package.
If you've new, reliable kit, it may be cheaper to self-insure. Instead of paying for a policy each month, put the same amount into a top savings account to build up your own emergency fund. If you have a problem, the cash is there to pay for it. If you don't, the cash is yours.
You can play the odds by self-insuring during the early years of your boiler's life – when it's least likely to go kaput – then after three years or so, bite the bullet and take out insurance.
3. Check before you buy whether your policy's an insurance or service agreement – the cover & protection are different
While the policies seem similar and what you get with them is similar, there is a key difference. With insurance, if the insurer goes bust you're protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. With service cover, you've less recourse if the firm goes bust. In this guide, we try to refer to insurance policies as insurance and service agreements as cover, so note that when reading the deals below.
Hopefully your policy explains what it is, but if unsure, if the provider offering the cover (not necessarily the same as the firm that sells it) says it is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, it is insurance. Check what happens if my insurer goes bust.
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 the insurance, and compare it to buying a new boiler.
Even if you do get cover, 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.
For example, mobile homes, bedsits and commercial properties are often excluded from cover.
Most policies won't pay if your boiler's croaked because it's not been properly maintained, neither do they cover the cost of safety inspections.
An annual service is an effective way to avoid these problems and may even be free in the first year after the boiler's installed.
Many boiler cover policies include servicing, especially high end policies. Yet, if yours doesn't you'll need to factor in £60-£100 for an annual service.
Almost all plans include an initial no-claims period, which varies from 14 to 30 days. It's not unreasonable, it stops people signing up to plans on the day their boiler breaks down.
Best buys: How to find the cheapest cover
Before you start looking for cover, know this:
You don't have to use your energy provider's boiler cover!
Energy providers often craftily try to link the two, but that's usually nonsense (unless cover comes 'free' with your tariff). Though, you should remember to regularly compare to ensure you're on the cheapest gas and electricity tariffs.
By avoiding energy providers' cover, you can often save £100+ a year, and often more if you're opting for a top-end policy which covers heating, electrics, drains and plumbing.
Thankfully, a few comparison sites can do the hard work for you. Just pop in your details and you'll get a result in minutes. The prices in your results will usually depend on where you live, the type and age of your boiler, and what level of cover you're looking to buy.
Check the top comparison sites for cheap boiler insurance
The comparison sites below include almost all of the major boiler insurance providers. You'll also be able to choose home emergency policies if that's what you're looking for.
Try uSwitch first – it has the best range
The widest comparison of providers is offered by uSwitch*. It will return quotes with a brief overview of the cover provided. You can then select the type of policy you are looking for via a simple tab system.
Cover is available from under £3/mth for boiler-only cover, and from £5/mth for boiler and central-heating cover. It doesn't cover every insurer, so it's worth trying at least one of the comparison sites below to ensure you get the widest reach.
We've limited feedback on uSwitch's comparison tool, so if you do use it, please let us know how you got on in the forum discussion.
Other comparison sites to try
We've included these as they may have some insurers uSwitch doesn't, so may give you a cheaper price. However, both sites have their own drawbacks...
MoneySupermarket* also has boiler-only cover results 'from £3/mth'. Yet that 'from' is important as these don't tend to be tailored prices – meaning the cost can increase when you click through and put in info about where you live or more details about the cover you're looking for.
For a wider choice of providers, try Gocompare too – though its results tend to be more focused around home emergency providers. Great if that's what you're after, but may not be useful if you're looking for boiler-only cover.
Alternative to buying cover
If you want to avoid shelling out every year for insurance, here is something to be aware of before crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.
The cost of repairing or replacing parts within a boiler vary and when added up can be a huge cost. As an idea, the average claims cost for repairing or replacing a broken down boiler is upwards of £300. For example, replacing a pump has been estimated to be almost £220, a faulty fan around £230 and a replacement heat exchanger nearer £400.
Those with fairly reliable boilers and a home insurance policy which covers home emergency call-outs may simply want to opt to remain uncovered (see Cheap Home Insurance guide).
Let's be very clear. This is all about realistically examining the risk of a breakdown, whether you're able to lay out the cash when needed, and how important the peace of mind of being covered is for you.
Safety is paramount, so ensure your gas appliances are regularly checked by a Gas Safe-registered engineer (and consider getting a carbon monoxide detector).
Cashback sites may pay you for signing up
As an extra boon, members of specialist cashback websites can be paid when they sign up to some financial products. Once you know who your cheapest provider is, you need to check there aren't any hidden cashback deals. Do check that it's exactly the same deal though, as terms can be different. And remember the cashback is never 100% guaranteed until it's in your account.
Full help to take advantage of this and pros & cons are in our Top Cashback Sites guide.
Boiler cover FAQs
This is actually a bit more complicated (annoyingly) than standard procedures when companies go bust. This is where boiler cover falls under one of two types: insurance policies and service agreements.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 to complain about your insurance provider
The insurance industry doesn't have the best customer-service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include claims either not being paid out on time or at all, unfair charges, or exclusions being hidden in small print. It's always worth trying to call your provider first, but, if not, then…
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