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Home emergency cover

Find cover for emergency situations at home

Home emergency cover is designed to help you deal with, and pay for, an emergency in your home

By Mehdi Punjwani

Published: 25 January 2021

Man catching water with bucket from damaged ceiling

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What is home emergency cover?

Home emergency cover is a type of insurance that covers the cost of calling out a tradesman due to a sudden incident, such as your boiler breaking down or your pipes bursting. It can be bought as a standalone policy, but is most often added to a standard home insurance policy.

Home emergency cover only pays out for the first “emergency” call-out. For more extensive repairs, including damage caused by your home emergency, you’ll have to claim on your home insurance.

What does home emergency cover include?

When you call your home emergency cover provider to make a claim, it will send out an engineer or electrician and cover the cost of the work they do. However, home emergency policies vary a lot in both price and the coverage provided, with standalone insurance often offering more comprehensive protection than the home emergency cover sold with home insurance.  

However, most policies will cover the necessary repairs for at least some of the following:

  • Boiler breakdown
  • Central heating failure
  • Loss of hot water
  • Plumbing problems
  • Burst pipes
  • Blocked drains
  • Electrical failure
  • Roof damage caused by extreme weather
  • Security issues such as broken doors and windows
  • Lost keys
  • Pest infestations

Some policies will also cover the cost of alternative accommodation if the emergency means you can’t stay in your home.

What does home emergency cover not include?

Most home emergency policies limit the cost of the repairs and labour, or the number of call-outs, you can claim for each year. Some also charge a call-out fee that you must pay towards any claim.

Other common exclusions include:

  • Claims made during the first 14 (or more) days of taking out the policy
  • Issues resulting from sludge in the boiler, pipework or radiators
  • Emergencies arising after a property has been left unoccupied for 30 days or more
  • Repairs to boilers not serviced in the past 12 months
  • Other issues caused by poor maintenance or wear and tear

Usually covered

Usually not covered

Boiler breakdown

Boiler servicing (and problems caused by lack of servicing)

Burst pipes

General maintenance

Sudden leaks

Small leaks such a dripping taps and appliances

Blocked drains

Pest infestation of outbuildings

Electrical supply failure

Small electrical faults (e.g. one broken socket)

Central heating system failure

Problems in unoccupied properties

Pest infestations (rats, wasps…)

Any extra work required beyond emergency call-out

What is considered a home emergency?

Insurers’ definitions of an ‘emergency’ vary, but in general an issue will be considered an emergency if it does one or more of the following:

  • Makes your home uninhabitable
  • Causes permanent damage to your home
  • Puts your health and wellbeing at risk
  • Makes your home unsafe

So losing your heating would count as an emergency, but weak water pressure would not.

Appliances such as washing machines and general maintenance issues are also usually excluded.

Can I keep my no-claims bonus if I claim for home emergency cover?

If you have standalone home emergency cover, making a claim will not affect the no-claims discount on your main home insurance. If your policy is linked to your home insurance, you’ll have to check your policy – or contact your insurer – to find out if home emergency claims mean losing your home insurance no-claims bonus.

Do I need home emergency cover?

Home emergency cover is not essential, but it can be a useful way to protect yourself against unexpected bills for emergency repairs to your house or flat. However, it’s only suitable if you own your home.

If you rent, your landlord is responsible for dealing with emergencies. And for landlords looking for cover for rented homes, specialised landlord insurance is more suitable than a standard home emergency policy.

Alternatives to home emergency cover include ‘boiler-only’ insurance, which covers the breakdown of your boiler but nothing else – not even radiators or heating controls. You can also take out household appliance insurance, or sign a service contract, or an agreement between you and a service provider or manufacturer that it will cover the cost of repairs if something goes wrong.

Just remember that these contracts are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, so you could lose out should the company go bust.

How do I get home emergency cover?

As explained above, you can buy home emergency cover on its own or as an add-on to your home insurance. It’s often cheaper to buy home emergency cover with your home insurance; it is even included as standard on some home insurance policies (as well as the occasional packaged bank account).

However, standalone home emergency insurance usually provides more extensive cover than those linked to home insurance policies. So while there’s no point taking out duplicate cover, if you have to pay to add home emergency cover to your home insurance policy, it’s worth checking the cover provided and shopping around to see if you can find a better deal.

When choosing a policy, make sure you know how quickly your insurer will respond to an emergency. Most have a 24-hour helpline – but that doesn’t mean they can guarantee that tradesmen will be available around the clock.

Compare home emergency cover

Comparing home insurance quotes with MoneySuperMarket is a quick and easy way to find affordable cover for your home. Just tell us about yourself, your property and its occupants, and the cover you need – and we’ll search the market for a list of quotes tailored to your needs.

You can find and compare home emergency cover by checking out the list of providers compiled by MoneySuperMarket. Compare the policies listed by the cost and the cover provided before clicking through to the provider’s website to finalise your purchase.

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