HOME EMERGENCY COVER: Coverages and Limitations

home emergency cover

If you have a home emergency, such as your boiler breaking down or rats taking up residence uninvitedly, locating a professional tradesperson quickly and footing the bill may be a costly headache you’d rather avoid.
If you want your home insurance to cover this type of future incident, you can add home emergency cover as an optional add-on or as a separate policy. Before deciding whether the extra cost is worthwhile, make sure you understand what the insurance company considers an emergency and what the standard policy may already cover.

What is Home Emergency Cover?

Home emergency cover is a sort of insurance that covers the cost of summoning a tradesperson in the event of an unexpected event, such as your boiler breaking down or your pipes bursting. It can be purchased as a stand-alone policy, although it is most commonly added to a conventional home insurance policy.

A home emergency cover only covers the first “emergency” call-out. For more expensive repairs, such as those resulting from your home emergency, you must submit a claim with your house’s insurance.

What is Included with Home Emergency Cover?

When you call your home emergency cover provider to lodge a claim, they will dispatch an engineer or electrician and cover the cost of the work they perform. However, home emergency policies vary greatly in terms of both price and coverage, with independent insurance frequently providing more extensive protection than home emergency cover supplied in conjunction with home insurance.

However, most policies will cover at least part of the following repairs:

  • Breakdown of a boiler
  • Inadequate central heating
  • Hot water loss
  • Plumbing issues
  • Pipes burst
  • clogged drains
  • Electricity outage
  • Extreme weather damage to the roof
  • Broken doors and windows, for example, pose a security risk.
  • Keys misplaced
  • Infestations of pests

Some policies will also cover the cost of alternate lodging if you are unable to stay in your home due to an emergency.

What is a Home Emergency?

The definition of an ’emergency’ varies across insurers, but in general, an issue is considered an emergency if it does one or more of the following:

  • It renders your home uninhabitable.
  • Your home suffers irreparable damage as a result of this.
  • Endangers your health and well-being
  • This makes your home unsafe.

So losing your heater would be considered an emergency, but having low water pressure would not.

Washing machines and other appliances, as well as general maintenance issues, are frequently excluded.

Exclusions and limitations

Exclusions are likely in your home emergency insurance policy. Before choosing a policy, you should find out what it is. Some examples of common exclusions are:

#1. Work necessary following immediate repair

Stand-alone home emergency insurance will only cover immediate repairs and will not cover further repair work. It would, for example, cover the cost of repairing a burst pipe but not the cost of replacing water-damaged wood flooring. However, your home’s insurance may cover this.

If more work is required after the urgent repairs, for example, to strengthen a heating system and minimise future difficulties, you will be responsible for the cost.

#2. Claim cost limitation

Usually, the insurer imposes a price cap on each claim. As a result, you’ll need enough to cover call-out fees, parts and labour costs, as well as any VAT.

Claim caps differ greatly amongst insurers, so make sure you have enough cover for common occurrences. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay the remainder yourself.

#3. The number of calls and claims

There may be a cap on the number of call-outs and claims you can make during the term of your policy.

Some insurers will not allow you to file a claim during the cooling-off period. Check the policy documentation to determine if this is the case.

#4. Properties that are unoccupied

It varies, but expect any home emergencies to be excluded if you leave your home empty for 30 days or more; it may also void your home insurance. If you want to keep your home vacant for an extended period of time, you should seek unoccupied property insurance instead.

#5. Inadequate upkeep and regular wear and tear

Maintaining your home in good condition and performing regular maintenance are essential; otherwise, your home emergency policy might decline to pay out if a problem arises as a result of your negligence.

Do I Need Home Emergency Cover?

Home emergency cover isn’t required, but it can be a good way to protect yourself from unexpected expenditures for emergency repairs to your house or flat. However, it is only appropriate if you own your home.

If you rent, it is your landlord’s responsibility to cope with emergencies. And, for landlords seeking cover for rented properties, specialised landlord insurance is preferable to a standard home emergency policy.

Alternatives to home emergency cover include ‘boiler-only’ insurance, which covers the breakdown of your boiler but not anything else, including radiators or heating controls. You can also get household appliance insurance or enter into a service contract, which is an agreement between you and a service provider or manufacturer to cover the cost of repairs if something goes wrong.

Just keep in mind that these contracts are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, so you could lose out if the company goes bankrupt.

What Information do you need to receive an estimate for Home Emergency Cover?

To help you locate the proper cover, you’ll need to supply some information about yourself and your home, such as:

  • your name and mailing address
  • the sort of structure you want to insure, as well as whether you own or rent it
  • how much security do you require
  • how old your boiler is and whether or not it has been serviced within the last year

You can purchase home emergency coverage as part of your home insurance policy or as a separate policy. Cover with a standalone policy is typically quite flexible. It’ll allow you to select the components that are most important to you. You can select between a boiler-only policy and one that covers your boiler, heating, plumbing, and electrics. Some policies also include an annual boiler service, which can help you save money. However, the more things you choose to cover, the higher the cost is likely to be.

How can I get Home Emergency Cover?

Home emergency cover can be purchased in two ways: as part of your home insurance or as a separate policy.

#1. As part of your home insurance policy

Home emergency cover is usually an add-on to your home insurance policy, and it is not available on all policies.

According to Defaqto, only 21% of 322 building insurance policies provide standard home emergency cover. However, it may be added for an additional cost to 50% of policies.

It may be less expensive to do so than to work a separate policy. On average, adding a home emergency cover to your home insurance costs an extra £30.79. [2]

You’ll also only have to deal with one company if you need to file a claim for the emergency and later repairs.

#2. As a stand-alone policy

Dedicated home emergency cover may be more expensive than adding it to your home insurance, but you will be able to acquire the exact coverage you require.

You can acquire cover for only your boiler or a policy that covers your boiler, heating, electrics, and pipes. Some policies also include an annual boiler service, which may be a fantastic deal.

Will a Claim on your Home Emergency Cover have an impact on your No-claims Discount?

The impact on your no-claims discount (NCD) varies on the sort of home emergency cover you’ve purchased and the insurer, so the only way to be certain is to read the papers for your specific policy.

Nonetheless, it is often true that:

  • If you have a separate home emergency cover policy that isn’t linked to your home insurance, filing a claim should have no effect on your home insurance NCD.
  • Making a claim may influence your NCD if the home emergency cover is included in your basic home insurance policy. It is not an optional extra you’ve bought.
  • If you have home emergency cover as an add-on and make a claim, it may not be counted as a claim on your primary home insurance policy, although policies vary.
  • If you need to make a claim on your buildings or contents insurance for damage caused by the emergency, it will normally have an impact on your NCD.

How to Lower the Chances of a Home Emergency

Emergencies occur, and there is no guarantee that you will be able to prevent them. However, maintaining your home in good repair and doing routine maintenance may help lower the risk. It’ll also raise the likelihood that your claim will be paid by the insurer.

Here are a few general home care tips to consider:

  • Get your boiler serviced once a year by a Gas Safe licenced engineer, preferably in the summer. This will ensure that it is safe and functional ahead of winter, as well as identify any concerns that need you need to address before they worsen. Bleed your radiators and repressurize your boiler as needed.
  • Take preventative measures to keep your pipes from freezing. When water freezes, it expands, creating pressure. Repair dripping faucets and ensure that the lagging in pipes and tanks is secure, and be aware of the location of your stopcock so that you can rapidly stop the flow of water if necessary. If your home is empty during the winter, leave your heating on at least an hour every day at regular intervals, and check your policy for any special requirements.
  • Respect your plugholes by not putting food, coffee grounds, oil, or grease down the kitchen sink, since this can cause drainage problems and clogs, which can lead to plumbing problems. Clear minor clogs before they become major, and keep a food waste bag near the sink for ease.
Read Also: HOME BUYERS INSURANCE: Coverages and Quotes In The UK
  • Hair clumps should not be flushed down the toilet because they might attach to the pipes and accumulate over time. Anything that isn’t designed to disintegrate, such as cotton pads, paper towels, and dental floss, can build up and cause clogs.
  • Don’t dismiss warning signals of an electrical problem. If your fuse box is making a noise, your switches are constantly tripping, or your lights are flickering, have it checked by a qualified, registered electrician. Keep an eye out for worn cables and cords, as well as discoloured sockets, and always use the equipment according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Regularly inspect your roof for symptoms of degradation and dislodged roof shingles or tiles. Maintain gutters to prevent clogging, which can result in water spilling into your home and down walls. It can also produce pooling, which adds weight to your roof. It can even have an impact on your home’s foundation.
  • Maintain a clean environment. Rats and mice prefer easy snacks, so keeping a crumb-free, clean kitchen with spills wiped up, food sealed and in higher cupboards, and uneaten pet food cleared away overnight can help keep your home rodent-free.

Home Emergency Cover FAQs

Can I buy home emergency cover separately?

For a price, you can normally add a home emergency cover to your house insurance policy as an optional extra. Some home insurance policies may even include it as a basic feature, though there are likely to be limitations on what you can claim for.

Is a blocked toilet covered by home insurance?

Plumbing and drainage cover, often known as home emergency cover, is insurance that covers a variety of issues such as blocked drains. Toilets and sinks are available. Pipes that are leaking.

Who is responsible for blocked drains on your property?

In general, you are responsible for drains within your property’s bounds, whereas the sewerage company is responsible for lateral drains and sewers that are normally outside of property boundaries.

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In general, you are responsible for drains within your property's bounds, whereas the sewerage company is responsible for lateral drains and sewers that are normally outside of property boundaries.

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