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Home emergency cover

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What is home emergency cover?

Home emergency cover can pay out for the cost of urgent repairs in your home because of a boiler/heating system breakdown, blocked drains, electrical faults and household security issues – for example, a broken window. Some insurance providers offer extra cover for pest infestations or roof damage.

Home emergency insurance only covers the cost of the initial call-out and repairs. It won’t pay to fix the root of the issue. For that, you can claim on your buildings insurance or contents insurance, depending on what’s been damaged.

What does home emergency insurance cover?

Home emergency cover is there to help you in a crisis – that’s to say, if your home is unsafe, there’s a risk to your health and safety, or there’s a possibility of further damage. 

Exactly what’s covered depends on the insurance provider you choose and how much you pay. As a rough guide, you can expect home emergency insurance to cover the following: 

Boiler or central heating issues

If you’ve no hot water, an approved engineer will come out and deal with the emergency. Some home emergency insurance includes an annual boiler service as well as urgent repairs.

Your insurance should also cover the cost of emergency repairs to your central heating system and radiators. Note that many policies only cover certain months, so you might not be able to claim in summer. 

Burst pipes

If a damaged pipe causes a leak or flood inside your home, emergency cover allows you to get it urgently fixed. Your policy is unlikely to cover pipes outside your home as these are usually the council or water company’s responsibility.

Blocked drains

If there’s a problem with your drainage system, you should be covered. 

Roof damage

If a storm damages your roof, you’ll be covered for urgent repairs. 

Electrical failure

If your fuse box blows, or an electrical fault leaves you without power, emergency home insurance should pay to fix the problem. You won’t be covered for power cuts caused by the grid. 

Broken doors or windows

If a smashed window or broken lock leaves you at risk of being burgled, your policy could sort the problem. 

Lost keys

Some insurance providers will replace lost or stolen keys, allowing you to get safely back into your home. 

Pest infestations

You may be covered for infestations of mice, rats and wasps. Pests that require specialist removal, like bees or moths, are usually excluded. 

Alternative accommodation

In certain situations, your insurance provider may put you up in a hotel or other temporary accommodation until your home is made safe.

What doesn’t home emergency insurance cover?

Home emergency cover doesn’t usually cover: 

  • Routine maintenance
  • Damp, mould and rot
  • Older boilers (your policy will specify how old, but this can be anything from eight to 15 years)
  • Minor issues, like a dripping tap or a broken socket
  • Pest infestation of outbuildings
  • Extra work beyond fixing the original issue. For example, home emergency insurance would cover the cost of repairing a burst pipe, but not any resulting damage
  • Emergencies that occur after your home has been unoccupied for a set number of days – usually around 30.

Policies won’t cover wear and tear, so it’s important to maintain your central heating system. Most insurance providers will also insist you have your boiler serviced every year. If you don’t, this could invalidate your cover.

Do I need home emergency cover?

You aren’t legally required to have emergency cover. But when you consider the potential cost of dealing with a crisis, you could find it’s worth it.

An emergency boiler repair can cost anything from £100 to £500, and if a part needs replacing, the bill could be even larger. A new boiler could cost anything from £500 up to several thousand pounds. On top of that, you’ll have call-out charges and installation costs to consider. Meanwhile, a burst pipe could cost between £160 and £310 to repair. Home emergency cover can help cover these costs.

If you’re renting, you don’t need home emergency cover – it’s the landlord’s responsibility to take care of emergencies. 

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Will my home insurance cover emergencies?

No. Your home insurance policy covers events like fire, flood, theft and vandalism. It doesn’t protect you if your boiler breaks down, a pipe bursts or your fuse box blows.

Some home insurance policies offer limited home emergency cover as standard, but you’ll usually need to pay more to add home emergency cover to your home insurance policy. Alternatively, you can buy a standalone home emergency policy.

What information do I need to get a home emergency cover quote?

To find the right cover, we’ll need some details about yourself and your home, including:

  • Your name and address
  • The type of building you want to insure and whether you own it
  • How much protection you need
  • Your boiler’s age and whether it’s been serviced in the past year.  

How can I buy home emergency cover?

You can buy home emergency cover as an optional extra with your home insurance or as a separate policy. Taking out home emergency cover as a standalone policy usually costs more than adding it to your home insurance, but can give you more extensive cover.

With standalone policies, cover is usually flexible, allowing you to choose the features important to you. You could cover just your boiler or include your heating, pipes and electrics. Some policies include an annual boiler service, which could save you money. But the more you choose to cover, the more you’ll have to pay.

How much does home emergency cover cost?

Insurance providers typically charge a flat fee for adding home emergency cover to your home insurance. How much you pay will depend on several factors, such as where you live and how much cover you’re looking for.

Are there limits to home emergency cover?

Yes, there are likely to be limits on how much you can claim and how many call-outs you can make in a year, but each insurance provider has its own rules. With some standalone or optional policies, you might not be able to claim within a set period from the start of the policy.

Basic emergency cover – perhaps as part of a home insurance policy – might only pay out £500 per claim. It might also only cover temporary repairs to make your home safe or resolve emergency situations, and not cover you for permanent repairs. More comprehensive policies may let you claim £1,500 per repair, with boilers, central heating and electrics all covered. There may be no limit on the number of call-outs you can make.

Some providers might not cover solar heating, so if you want this type of cover check the policy before you buy.

While home emergency cover usually offers fast repairs thanks to the 24/7 helplines, some providers warn that they may not be able to find an authorised contractor to deal with your emergency within a reasonable timescale in bad weather or periods of excessive demand.

Are there alternatives to home emergency cover?

There are alternatives to home emergency cover you may want to consider. Boiler cover will cover your boiler and, if you pay extra, can be extended to include your central heating system, pipes and electrics. Another option is home appliance insurance. This doesn’t cover boilers but can cover the cost of repairs if your appliances go wrong.

Can I get home emergency cover from Comparethemarket?

Yes, you can choose home emergency cover as an optional extra when you compare home insurance quotes with us. Just select the emergency cover box when getting a quote.

Get a home insurance quote

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a homecare plan that covers more than just emergencies, we’ve partnered with Hometree, who offers a range of packages to ensure your home runs smoothly.

Go to Hometree

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Author image Helen Phipps

What our expert says...

“Although home emergency cover isn’t a necessity, it can save you the hassle of trying to find a tradesperson at short notice. It could even save you money in the long run. Just make sure you check your policy for limits and exclusions as you might find you’re not covered for everything you think you are.”

- Helen Phipps, Insurance expert

Frequently asked questions

Can I get home emergency cover for a second home?

You can get home emergency cover for a second home, but you’ll need to tell your insurance provider that the property isn’t your main residence. If your second home is left unoccupied for more than 30 days, you may have trouble getting emergency cover.

Will I have to pay an excess if I make a claim?

If you claim on your home emergency cover, you’ll usually have to pay an excess. You’ll be asked to agree to the amount when you take out the policy. The higher your excess, the lower your premium will be – but make sure you can afford the excess if you need to claim. Some policies don’t have an excess, but these are usually more expensive.

Can I get a no-claims bonus with home emergency cover?

Home insurance policies usually come with a no claims bonus, so you’ll pay less for your premium if you don’t make a claim. If your emergency cover is linked to your home insurance, you’ll need to check whether a home emergency claim will mean forfeiting your no claims bonus. 

If you have standalone home emergency cover, your home insurance no claims discount won’t be affected if you claim. 

How can I cut the cost of home emergency cover?

There’s a few ways you can pay less for your home emergency cover:

  • Pay annually if you can afford to, rather than monthly. Interest is typically added to your monthly payments
  • Shop around for home emergency insurance providers to make sure you’re getting the right deal for you. But check for fees and restrictions before switching
  • Opt to pay either a higher excess or call-out fee. Just make sure you can afford to pay it if you need to make a claim.

Will home emergency cover include my boiler?

Your home emergency cover should include your boiler and central heating system, but this may depend on its age and condition. If your boiler is unrepairable, your policy might give you a contribution to the cost of a new boiler. You might want to consider separate boiler cover.

What’s considered a home emergency?

Most insurance providers define a household emergency as a sudden and unforeseen situation that needs to be dealt with quickly, otherwise it may:

  • Result in your home losing its main source of heating, lighting or water (hot or cold)
  • Cause permanent damage to your home or contents
  • Make your home unsafe or insecure
  • Pose a risk to health.

The definition can vary, so check what your insurance provider considers an emergency. 

Do I need home emergency cover if I rent?

No. If you rent, boiler repairs and household maintenance are your landlord’s responsibility, so you won’t need home emergency cover.

How fast will I get a response?

Your policy will say how quickly you can expect a response from your insurance provider. Many have 24-hour helplines, allowing you to reach someone any time. But that doesn’t mean an engineer will be able to come out straight away.

Will I be offered alternative accommodation if my home is uninhabitable?

Some home emergency policies cover the cost of alternative accommodation up to a set limit if damage leaves your home uninhabitable. If you need to be out of you home for longer while it’s being repaired, you can usually claim on your home insurance.

How do I claim on my home emergency cover?

If you have an emergency at home and want to claim on your policy, call your insurance provider’s 24-hour emergency helpline. They’ll assess how serious the issue is and should send out a tradesperson as quickly as possible. Don’t try to arrange repairs yourself. If you bring in your own tradesperson, you won’t be covered.

Page last reviewed on 17 FEBRUARY 2023
by Helen Phipps