A boiler is an expensive appliance to purchase or fix when something goes wrong. So you’d think it would make sense to get boiler cover and have peace of mind. Thousands of households across the U.K do just that, but do they get value for money out of that expenditure? In this blog, we’re going to look at the positives and negatives of boiler insurance and weigh up whether it’s worth getting your boiler covered or not.
What is boiler cover?
Boiler cover is essentially just boiler insurance. It works in a very similar way to your home or car insurance policy. You pay a monthly fee and then if the worst happens and your boiler breaks down leaving you without heating and hot water, you just call up your provider and they will send someone round to fix the issue.
All boiler cover plans are different but the better plans include annual inspections, unlimited callouts, servicing and low/zero excess fees. A boiler cover plan only covers your boiler and controls, however, there are plans available that cover your entire central heating system (radiators, pipework & boiler). Some plans also cover your electrics, at an additional cost of course.
It’s worth noting here that you may have some form of boiler cover included within your home insurance policy, so it’s worth checking on that first if you’re thinking about getting boiler cover.
If you live in rented accommodation then it is your landlord’s responsibility to provide boiler cover or to remedy a broken boiler in a reasonable amount of time.
All boiler cover plans will include labour and parts but there may be an additional call-out charge in addition to your monthly premium. There may also be a policy excess to pay if you make a claim on your boiler cover.
What do you have to watch out for?
You need to keep a few things in mind when choosing boiler cover to ensure your policy will give you value for money. Here are some of the major issues to check when choosing your plan:
Time limit on how long an engineer can spend repairing your boiler
It may seem a bit strange to have a time limit on fixing your boiler, after all, you’ve paid into your plan for x months or years, and when you need to use your plan, you would expect the job to be fixed, however long it takes. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, with many cover plans offering a certain amount of free labour before you are charged an additional hourly fee.
You may only be able to make a certain amount of claims per year
Many policies cap the number of claims you can make per year. Whilst most people wouldn’t make multiple claims in a year, if your boiler has an ongoing problem, the problem was misdiagnosed or it wasn’t fixed properly in the last call-out then you may need additional call-outs.
Some boiler cover plans have an additional policy excess, so if you wish to make a claim you will also have to pay an additional fee, similar to if you made a claim on your car insurance. The amounts of the policy excess can vary depending on the provider of your boiler cover plan.
Timescale before an engineer is sent out to fix your issue
You would assume that when you have an issue with your boiler, you would get an engineer sent out to you immediately as you have paid for this eventuality. However, some of the waiting times involved with boiler cover plans, particularly with big energy providers, have seen some customers waiting weeks or months before an engineer is even sent out to take a look at the problem.
Waiting period before you can make a claim after sign-up
Most boiler cover plans restrict the time you can make a claim after signing up to 30 days. This protects them from people signing up after their boiler breaks down and making an instant claim.
Policy not covering boiler failure
Many policies only cover boiler repairs, if the boiler is inspected and written-off by a gas safe engineer then you will not be covered for the cost of installing a new boiler.
Energy providers charging extra
If you take out cover with your energy provider they will often charge you more than they would for a new customer as they know it’s easier for you to take out cover with them as you already have an account. As with car insurance, it pays to switch your cover each year as your provider will increase the annual fee and hope you’ll be too lazy to switch.
Older boilers often aren’t covered
If you have an older boiler (10 years plus) then many boiler cover plans won’t touch your boiler as it will be seen as a risk. If you have a shiny new boiler, still under warranty they will be happy to offer you cover.
Maximum repair costs
Some policies apply a maximum price cap on their repair costs, once this threshold has been reached you will have to cover the difference.
In addition to the points above, make sure you read the T&C’s carefully so you know exactly what you are covered for and what to expect from your cover providers should anything go wrong with your boiler.
What are the benefits of boiler cover?
Boiler repair bills can be expensive, ranging from £150 – £400 depending on how serious the issue is. Having boiler cover in place means that you (hopefully) won’t get stung with a hefty repair bill that you didn’t have money saved up for.
It should also be quicker to get the problem resolved. A call to your boiler cover provider should see them arranging for an engineer to call round as a matter of urgency is the least you can expect. However, this isn’t always the case with huge numbers of complaints being lodged with the Financial Ombudsman Service every year related to the length of wait time before an issue is resolved.
With boiler cover, you won’t get stung with expensive emergency call-out charges if your boiler breaks down on an evening or on the weekend.
If my boiler is under guarantee why do I need cover?
Many new boilers come with extended guarantee’s or warranties. At WarmZilla, we offer a range of guarantee’s ranging between 2, 5 and 10-years depending on what boiler model you choose and what kind of guarantee you’re looking for.
Combi boilers have a lifespan of around 10-15 years depending on the brand, so if you buy a new boiler from us with a 10-year guarantee you wouldn’t need cover for the first ten years! To maintain your guarantee you just have to get your boiler serviced every year by a Gas Safe registered heating engineer. A service costs on average £80 depending on what part of the country you’re in.
WarmZilla offer Ideal & Worcester Bosch boilers, both companies offer excellent aftercare in terms of their customer service and in terms of response time to call-outs. If your boiler is still under guarantee or warranty there isn’t much point in paying for boiler cover. You may get an engineer out to your home slightly faster but many people have been left disappointed with how long they have to wait for an engineer to be sent from their boiler cover provider.
Is it cheaper to get a local engineer out?
In short, yes, on average it is significantly cheaper to just call out an engineer as and when you need one. The average cost of a repair plus the cost of an annual service according to a Which? Survey was less than £300, with many annual British Gas policies costing in excess of £500.
Chances are you could go years without needing to make use of your boiler cover, at an average of £300 a year this would give you ample funds to cover any local engineer fees to get your boiler fixed if and when it breaks down.
Many local engineers are able to attend to an issue within 24 hours as they understand how much of a struggle it is to be without heating and hot water in Winter.
The WarmZilla way
There is a better way, the WarmZilla way. You could buy boiler cover from anything between £12 – £50 a month and protect your old boiler, or, you could pay less than that every month and get a brand new boiler.
WarmZilla offer pay monthly plans on Ideal and Worcester Bosch boilers for less than £10.68pm*. So for less than the price of a monthly boiler cover plan you can purchase a brand new Worcester Bosch premium boiler on finance with a system filter, system cleanse, gas safe installation, 10-year guarantee and a smart thermostat.
It doesn’t make financial sense to pay for cover on an old boiler when you can pay less each month to have a brand new boiler installed.
Take the WarmZilla survey and find out how much you could get a brand new boiler for. If you have an ageing boiler, rather than putting money into a boiler cover plan you might be better off putting the money towards a brand new boiler.
Another benefit of buying a newer, more reliable boiler is that according to the Energy Saving Trust, a modern, A-rated condensing boiler will use a third less fuel than an old boiler to provide the same amount of heat. This can cut CO2 emissions by a third and reduce annual energy bills by up to £250.
If you want peace of mind in knowing that you’re covered if anything should go wrong with your boiler, the cheapest option is to add boiler cover into your home insurance policy. It may not be as comprehensive as standalone boiler cover but it will be significantly more affordable.
If you don’t want the hassle of getting a new boiler installed but you want protection in case your old boiler gives up on you then make sure you shop around on your boiler cover plan and read the small print so you know what to expect when the time comes to call on your cover.
We recommend checking reviews of any company you plan on getting cover from, as even big-name companies that have been around for a long time can have a surprisingly poor review score and bad customer feedback.
You work hard for your money and you want to ensure you’re getting the best deal available, we think that boiler cover is a thing of the past and now that you can get a boiler from as little as £1499 or £9.69 per month on finance that it just doesn’t make sense to cover your boiler. Especially in light of some of the horror stories we hear about wait times and additional costs that get applied.