Boiler breakdown cover – your questions answered

Winter is coming, and the heating is going on in homes across the land.

Millions of us are no doubt fighting a rear-guard action in a bid to keep our energy bills down, but the nation’s boilers are inevitably clunking and thrumping into life as the nights get longer and the mercury falls.

But what if you flick the thermostat and, instead of firing up, your boiler stubbornly refuses to shudder into action?

Would you have to go through the hassle and expense of ringing round for a plumber and paying for the replacement parts and labour? Or could you simply call upon your boiler breakdown cover to get the problem fixed?

Whatever your situation, here’s a guide to boiler breakdown cover…

What types of boiler cover are available?

There are two main types:

  • a service contract, which includes a yearly inspection and service, and
  • breakdown cover only, which covers the cost of faults and repairs.

A service contract is the more expensive of the two as, in addition to responding to a fault, it includes an annual inspection and service.

This ‘prevention is better than cure’ provision is a good way to safeguard against a breakdown happening in the first place.

Pure boiler breakdown cover will cover you for call out charges, as well as parts and labour, should something go wrong with the appliance or its controls.

Both options should come with a 24-hour telephone helpline.

If you have a breakdown-only policy, for an extra premium you may be able to add regular boiler maintenance.

Is it just my boiler that’s covered, or my whole heating system?

This is up to you.

You can either take out a boiler-only policy, which only covers repairs to your boiler, or full heating system cover, which also covers you for repairs to other parts of the system such as radiators, pumps and flue.

Both types of policy will include call-out, parts and labour costs.

Are there any limits on the number of claims I can make?

“You can either take out a boiler-only policy, which only covers repairs to your boiler, or full heating system cover...”

This will vary between providers so you should always check your contract’s terms and conditions to see if there are any restrictions.

Some policies, for instance, will limit the number of claims you can make each year, while others will impose a cap on the cost of each claim.

You should also look out for policies that only cover you for a certain number of hours’ labour –if you’re only covered for three hours’ labour and the repair takes four hours, you’ll have to pay the difference yourself.

Naturally, the more generous those T&Cs, the bigger the premium is likely to be.

Any other restrictions?

Another thing to be aware of is the length of time you’ll have to wait between when you buy your cover and when you can make a claim.

And your contract may be invalidated if your boiler has not been properly maintained and has, for instance, broken down due to a build-up of limescale.

So it’s essential you get your boiler serviced annually.

Will I have to pay an excess?

As with any type of insurance, your policy might include an excess – an amount you have to pay up front in the event of a claim.

There might be an option to vary the excess – in other words, you can opt to pay a higher excess in return for a lower premium. But don’t set the excess too high or it might make too big a dent in your finances.

Are there other options?

You could alternatively take out home emergency cover, which will also insure you for problems such as lost keys, faulty electrics and burst pipes. This cover may also be included as part of your home insurance if you have a top-of-the-range policy.

While this may seem like a more inclusive option, pay-outs are usually less than you’d get for standard boiler breakdown cover, and you can only claim in an emergency. So if your boiler breakdown is not considered an emergency, you’ll have to foot the bill for repairs yourself.

Do I need cover if my boiler is still under warranty?

It’s unlikely you’ll need boiler breakdown cover if your boiler is still under warranty, but you should check the small print to make sure the warranty covers everything you want and need.

And remember, your boiler warranty probably won’t cover your entire heating system, so it may still be worth insuring your whole system.

Anything else I should know?

Remember that you don’t have to take the cover that may be offered by your energy supplier – so get to our boiler channel and take a look at the range of policies on offer.

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

* 51% could save at least £199, MoneySuperMarket Data, September 2014

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