Getting Warmer or Colder?
Heat cover plans can vary wildly, with prices ranging from just under a fiver a month to nearly £36 a month. Each of these plans have their own list of situations and appliances that they cover, bonuses they offer, and excess required. So what are the important things to consider?
Do I Need to?
First of all, check your home insurance policy. Some home insurance policies include heat cover, which means there’s no need to insure yourself twice. If yours does, congratulations you’re taken care of, go have a nice drink. 🙂
You also don’t need to take out boiler cover if you are renting as a tenant. Insurance costs are the responsibility of the landlord, so ask them what they have in place.
You should also consider the age of your boiler. Brand new boilers may have a manufacturers guarantee that it will keep working for the first year and maybe even the first two or three. However this may be dependent on having a boiler service each year so check the boiler warranty. On the flip side, if you boiler is more than 10 years old, then you may not be covered or even accepted for insurance.
If it is not covered in your home insurance, you are the homeowner, and its not within the manufacturers guarantee, then read on for a checklist of considerations.
• Boiler or boiler and central heating? – Heat cover plans fall into two broad categories. Those that cover just your boiler, and those that also include the entire central heating, including the water tank, valves, pipes and radiators. If the pipes are new it is likely not necessary to insure them, unless you are concerned about the damage that a boiler failure could do to the pipes.
• Call-out limit? – While most plans tend to have unlimited call-outs, not all plans do. If there’s a limit on the number of call outs you can have in a specific time period, then you may end up paying extra fees. You should also think about the highest amount a provider is willing to pay out, especially if they will only cover a limited number of call-outs.
• How much is the excess? – Some policies will be cheap but feature a hefty excess fee which you will need to pay every time a claim is made, while some will be more expensive but have a cheaper or non-existent excess. Weigh up how often you are likely to have to call out an engineer and pay the excess, and weather it’s worth paying a bit more each month so that you have less to pay when your boiler breaks down.
• What’s their phone availability? – Some plans include a 24 hour helpline, which can be perfect if you think there’s a chance your boiler might break down in the middle of the night, and you’d like to have someone on hand you can talk to. Some plans even include 24 hour call-outs, which means you can get an engineer at any time of day. Useful if your boiler suddenly breaks at 3am.
“I had a bad experience with my previous heat cover supplier. My boiler broke down and they said it would take three days to get an engineer out, and this was in the middle of winter with a crying baby! So I switched to British Gas as they were cost effective and could guarantee me 24 hour call-outs. A rapid response is my top priority when it comes to heat cover.” – Aamir
• How much cover do you need? – Some plans include a whole lot more than jus
t covering your boiler and central heating. Some plans include a free boiler service, either in the first year or annually. Some plans include plumbing and drainage, some include a gas check, some include home security, the list goes on. Have a look at all of the things that are covered by each plan and decide which you need. Also don’t forget, if your boiler is new, you likely wont need as much cover.
• Does it include an annual boiler service? – I’ve mentioned this before but some plans will include a free annual boiler service. This is a key point as an annual service will help your boiler to last longer, and spot and prevent any potential problems before they develop. Keep an eye out for these deals.
•Pay out caps – Check the maximum amount that the provider will pay out for the repairs, some policies will limit the pay out at £1500.
• How long will it take? – How long does it take to make a claim, and how long does it take to send an engineer out. This is particularly relevant to older boilers as they are more likely to fail catastrophically, so you don’t want to be left without hot water for too long.
• How much will it cost next year? – Often the prices will go up after the first year. You could always cancel the policy and take out a newer cheaper policy, but if you want to be able to sign up and not have to worry, check how much it will be in the long run.
• Check exclusions – No heat cover policy is going to cover everything. check all the things that are excluded as well as all the things that are included.
Mark’s heat cover story: “I have used a number of different providers over the years including British Gas. I have tended to go for a well known name and a plan that covers my heating system i.e. radiators and pipes as well as my boiler with an annual service thrown in.”
Here’s some other things to consider in relation to boiler cover:
Don’t wait until the last minute to get heat cover – Just like any insurance policy, most heat cover plans will have a no-claims policy in the first two weeks or so of starting, so you really don’t want to wait till your boiler catches fire to take out a plan. Apply for heat cover in advance on the off chance that you need it, rather than only taking it out when you definitely do need it.
Shop around – You don’t have to get your boiler cover from the same company that supplies your gas. Many people fall into this misconception and can end up paying more than they need to. While some suppliers offer deals if you get your energy and heat cover from them, there may be another plan from another supplier worth switching to.
Always read the terms and conditions – I know I know, no one likes to, everyone says they do, but it is really important that you know exactly what each plan offers. Comparison sites can offer a snapshot of each product, but at the end of the day the devil is in the details.