When applying for home insurance, many providers will offer add-on extras to extend the cover to other areas. One common extra for homeowners is Home Emergency cover, which can also be bought as a standalone policy.
In this article, we’ll cover some common questions about Home Emergency cover and show how some of its biggest benefits are often not the most obvious.
The definition may vary slightly between providers, but usually it refers to a sudden and unexpected event which either renders your home unsafe or insecure, damages your home, or causes personal risk to you.
The example we frequently use to show how it works alongside home insurance is to imagine you’ve got water leaking through your ceiling. Home insurance will pay for the resulting water damage to your ceiling and walls (Buildings cover), and any of your belonings that are destroyed (Contents cover). It will usually also pay for the damage caused in tearing up part of your home to find the source of the leak (Trace & Access cover). However, it won’t pay for the repair to stop the leak itself – this is what Home Emergency cover does.
People have come to expect that Home Emergency covers are for heating systems (primarily boilers) and plumbing. While it’s true that these are probably the most common uses of such cover, there are many more unexpected emergencies that can occur in the home that would leave the homeowner in need of urgent help.
Generally, there are 11 different situations that could arise in your home that are coverable by these policies:
Most frequently providers will offer ‘base’ cover for Heating System and/or Plumbing, and then offer subsequent tiered cover above this to add in progressively more emergencies. At coverbaloo, we offer cover for all of them as standard.
Similar to other insurance policies, the most obvious reason to get it is to avoid having to pay out a large bill when something goes wrong. In this case, if your boiler unexpectedly breaks down in the middle of winter it could be a very expensive bill to send out a qualified engineer out of hours at no notice so you can continue to heat your home. Even for cases where the work involved itself may not be so expensive, out of hours callouts alone can inflate the price to levels that many would not be able to afford at no notice.
But when you think about how the policy works, there are actually more benefits that are potentially of greater value to many people. In addition to the cost, it can be very stressful when something like this goes wrong with a lot of questions that come to mind. How much will it cost to fix and is there a risk of being ripped off? How soon will someone be able to come out to help? Where to find the right trustworthy person to do a good enough job?
The hidden benefit of Home Emergency cover is really the removal of this stress. When you’re covered, you know that there’s just one phone number to call 24/7 and they’ll be able to send somebody to fix it. At coverbaloo, we work with local tradespeople who are fully vetted so they can get to our customers quicker and they can trust that they’ll do the job right.
It’s true that to get comprehensive cover for emergencies like these it can sometimes get quite expensive, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As we’ve already discussed, many providers sell tiered cover meaning you need to buy their highest (and most expensive) package in order to cover yourself against the wider list of emergencies.
There are two ways you can bring the cost down to an affordable level. Either you can focus on the most important emergencies to you and find a provider that covers these as standard – by reducing the areas of cover, it will reduce the premium.
Alternatively, you can focus on providers who don’t offer tiered cover, as this may mean the price is more affordable generally. At coverbaloo, we cover all 11 emergencies for a fixed price of £10 per month.
Since most policies out there will cover boilers, it makes sense that many of them include an annual boiler service within the policy, but it’s worth thinking about first before you choose to add this in. Obviously, it can be very convenient for it to be included in the same policy. Most policies will only cover your boiler if it is serviced at least once a year, so this is one less thing to worry about.
But there are some drawbacks to this, such as cost and when it is serviced. The way that many providers make it affordable for them to offer boiler servicing included is to only provide the servicing in their off-peak months, leaving them able to charge a higher rate when most people want it serviced. This can cause problems for some, as they won’t be able to have as much choice on when it is serviced, and depending on when they take out the policy can sometimes leave people with a long waiting time before the included service that means they need to find their own servicer to remain covered.
The other factor is cost – the convenience of including it in the policy can sometimes carry an extra cost. Since the servicing of a boiler isn’t as urgent as the emergencies covered under the policy, you should have more time to find your own qualified engineer to provide a service at a potentially cheaper price. The only difference is that you’ll have to take the time to find one who you trust at a price you’re happy with, which for some may not be worth the effort. At coverbaloo, we don’t include a boiler service in our policy so you’ll need to sort this separately, but it enables us to keep the price low and affordable.
If you do end up taking out Home Emergency, either standalone or as part of your home insurance, there are a few things you should remember or look out for. Most importantly, unless it specifically states so in the wording, Home Emergency cover is not a maintenance policy. That means that if anything such as your boiler breaks down due to anything expected, without having been serviced, or due to wear and tear, you won’t be covered.
Next, one of the most common reasons that people aren’t able to claim on these policies is because their situation isn’t really an ‘emergency’. If your toilet breaks but there’s another one in the house, the claims handler is unlikely to see it as urgent. The same applies for your boiler breaking down in the heat of summer, but it can also be indicated by how quickly you ring the insurer. If you don’t ring your insurer as soon as you can (particularly important where claim lines are open 24/7), then this could be deemed as it not being an emergency – after all, if it wasn’t urgent enough for you to ring them when it happened, why does it need a tradesperson sending urgently?
Lastly, don’t get caught out by hidden wording around response times. Some providers, more commonly those found on price comparison websites, include wording that explains they only have to send out an engineer within a few days of your call. This isn’t much use if you need someone there ASAP, as you’ll have to wait and there’s nothing you can do. Similarly, some providers will only work with certain branded tradespeople who may not be local to your home, taking them longer to come and fix the issue.
Hopefully you now feel a bit more informed about protecting your home and can decide if Home Emergency is the right cover for you.
Check out the other posts on our blog for more helpful tips on your home insurance.
And if you want to apply for Home Emergency cover for only £10 per month, then click on the button below to get covered now.
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