Home emergency cover

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What is home emergency cover?

Home emergency cover is an optional insurance product that’s there to give you peace of mind and financial assistance when things like plumbing and central heating go wrong.

Home emergency policies typically cover you for boiler/heating system breakdown, blocked drains, electrical faults and household security - for example, a broken window. Some insurance providers offer additional cover for problems such as pest infestations or roof damage.

Home emergency policies vary depending on the insurance provider. Be sure to read your policy documents carefully so you know exactly what’s covered and what’s not.

Will my home insurance cover emergencies?

Your standard home insurance policy covers you for events like fire, flood, theft and vandalism. It won’t usually protect you in a sudden emergency like your boiler breaking down, a pipe bursting or your fuse box blowing.

There are policies that offer very limited home emergency cover as standard but, usually if you want to be protected for unexpected emergencies, you’ll need to add home emergency cover to your home insurance and pay a bit more for your premium. Alternatively, you can buy a standalone home emergency policy.

What does home emergency insurance cover?

Exactly what your policy covers will depend on how much you pay and which insurance provider you choose. As a rough guide, you can expect your emergency home insurance to protect you from some or all of the following:

Boiler breakdown

If you’re left without hot water, an appointed tradesperson will be sent to your property to give you emergency assistance. Some home emergency plans include an annual boiler service as well as urgent repairs.

Central heating failure

You can also get help to cover the cost of emergency repairs to your central heating system and radiators.

Burst pipes

A damaged pipe that’s caused water to leak inside your home can be fixed by an appointed tradesperson. Any pipes outside your home won’t be covered as these are usually the responsibility of the local council or water company.

Blocked drains

Help for an emergency caused by a problem with your drainage system.

Roof damage

If your roof is damaged in bad weather, urgent repairs can be carried out to make your home safe and dry again.

Electrical failure

If your fuse box blows or an electrical fault leaves you without power, having home emergency cover could remedy the problem quickly. Power cuts caused by the grid won’t be covered.

Broken doors or windows

If your home is left insecure because of a smashed window or broken door lock, your policy could help fix the problem. 

Lost keys

Some insurance providers offer replacements for lost or stolen keys so you can get back into your home safely.

Pest infestations

You may be covered for invasions from mice, rats and wasps. Any pests that need to be removed by a specialist, like bees or moths, are usually excluded.

Home emergency insurance can cover the cost of call-out charges and repairs, but won’t pay to repair secondary damage caused by the emergency. If the damage makes your home uninhabitable, some policies may cover you for alternative accommodation.

Remember, home emergency cover is there to help alleviate an emergency situation, like an unsafe or unsecure home, a risk to your health and safety or that of your family, or a risk of further damage to your property. Policies often have specific times of the year when your boiler would be covered as an emergency if it breaks down – so it’s worth checking the policy terms and conditions.

Do I need home emergency cover?

It’s not a legal requirement, but when you consider the potential cost of dealing with household emergencies, home emergency cover could be worth the outlay.  

boiler repair can cost anything from £100 to £400, but if a part needs replacing you could be looking at a much bigger bill. A new boiler could cost anything from £500 up to several thousand pounds. You also have call-out charges and installation costs to consider. A burst pipe could cost anything from £100 to thousands of pounds.

What isn’t covered by home emergency cover?

Your home emergency cover won’t include every eventuality and exclusions will vary among providers. Policies won’t cover general wear and tear, so it’s important to maintain your central heating system. Most insurance providers will insist you have your boiler serviced annually. If you don’t, it could invalidate your home emergency cover. 

Home emergency cover also generally doesn't cover:

  • routine maintenance
  • damp, mould and rot
  • older boilers (typically 10 years old or more)
  • minor issues like a dripping tap or a single broken electrical socket
  • pest infestation of outbuildings
  • any extra work beyond fixing the original issue. Home emergency insurance would cover the cost of repairing a burst pipe, for example, but not any damage to the carpet it soaked.

What details do you need to get a home emergency cover quote?

You’ll need to provide some information about you and your home to help you find the right cover, including:

  • your name and address
  • the type of building you want to insure and whether you own or rent it
  • how much protection you need
  • how old your boiler is and whether it was serviced in the past year. 

You can either buy home emergency cover with your home insurance or as a separate policy. With a standalone policy, cover is usually pretty flexible so you can choose the elements that are most important to you. You could choose cover just for your boiler, or a policy that includes your boiler, heating, pipes and electrics. Some policies even include an annual boiler service, which could save you money. But the more things you choose to cover, the higher the cost is likely to be.

Are there limits to home emergency cover?

There may well be limits for the amount you can claim and how many call-outs you can make in a year, but this will depend on the insurance provider you go with. 

Basic emergency cover, perhaps offered as part of a standard home insurance policy, might only pay out as little as £200 per claim, with no significant cover for boiler repairs and no more than three claims allowed in a year. With more comprehensive policies, the maximum claim amount could be at least £1,500 per repair, with boilers, central heating and electrics all covered. Plus, you may be able to make unlimited call-outs in a year.

Where can I find home emergency cover?

Home emergency cover is available as an optional extra when you compare home insurance quotes with us. It’s quick and easy to get a home insurance quote – just give us a few details about yourself and your home, and we’ll give you a list of quotes from a range of trusted UK providers in minutes.

Get a home insurance quote

If you’re looking for a standalone home care plan that covers more than just emergencies, Compare the Market has partnered with Hometree, who provide a range of packages to ensure the smooth running of your home.

Go to Hometree

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Frequently asked questions

Does home emergency cover need to be bought separately?

You can usually add home emergency cover as an optional extra to your home insurance for an extra fee. It might even be included as standard on some home insurance policies, although there are likely to be restrictions on what you can claim for. Taking home emergency cover out as a standalone policy will usually cost you more than adding it on to your home insurance, but it can give you more extensive cover.

Can I get home emergency cover for a second home?

Yes, but you’ll need to make sure you tell your insurance provider that the property isn’t your main residence. Emergency assistance can be very welcome if there’s a major problem in the property, like a burst pipe, collapsed ceiling or boiler breakdown, especially if you have guests staying there at the time.

Is there an excess when you make a home emergency cover claim?

Often there will be. This means you’ll be expected to pay the first part of a claim. You’ll be asked to agree to this when you take out the policy. The higher the excess, the lower your premium tends to be. Some policies won’t set an excess, but these are likely to be more expensive. Check when you take out home emergency cover if there’s an excess and make sure you can afford to pay it if you need to make a claim.

Is there a no claims bonus with home emergency cover?

Home insurance policies typically come with a no claims bonus, meaning you can get a lower premium if you don’t make a claim that year. If your emergency cover is linked to your home insurance, you’ll need to check your policy to find out whether a home emergency claim means losing your no claims bonus.

If you have standalone home emergency cover, making a claim won’t affect the no claims discount on your main home insurance.

How can I cut the cost of home emergency cover?

There’s a few ways you can make sure you’re not overpaying for your home emergency cover:

  • Check your home insurance to see if any cover is included as standard and if it’s sufficient for your needs.
  • Pay annually, rather than monthly – this is usually cheaper.
  • Always compare insurance providers to make sure you’re getting the best home emergency cover deal for you. But be sure to check for any claims limits and other restrictions before switching.

Will home emergency cover include my boiler?

Your home emergency cover should include your boiler, but that may depend on its age and condition. You’ll need to check the policy details. Alternatively, you may want to look into buying separate boiler insurance.

What is considered an emergency?

This may vary among insurance providers, so it’s important to know exactly what your insurance provider considers an emergency.

Most insurance providers define a household emergency as something that:

  • could cause permanent damage to your home
  • may make your home unsafe
  • poses a risk to health.

Do I need home emergency cover if I rent?

No. Boiler repairs and other maintenance costs are your landlord’s responsibility, so it’s down to them to make sure they have cover.

How fast will I get a response?

Your policy will set out how quickly you can expect a response from your insurance provider. Many have 24-hour helplines, so you should be able to reach someone no matter what time of day you call. But it doesn’t always mean a tradesperson will be available to come out to you straight away.

How much does home emergency cover cost?

Providers typically charge a flat fee for adding home emergency cover to your home insurance. Different providers will charge different amounts based on several factors, including the overall amount of cover included in their product – for example, how much you can claim or the maximum number of claims you can make in a year. The type of cover offered will also be taken into account – for example, does it include your boiler and heating system or only your boiler?