You’ll probably want the right insurance in place when the unexpected happens to your home. But is home emergency cover worth it for every homeowner?
A burst pipe, an overflowing toilet, or a broken heating system — these are problems you’ll want to get sorted ASAP. But fixing them can sometimes be expensive.
That’s where home emergency cover comes in.
Here, we explain why it might be worth adding home emergency cover to your home insurance, what counts as an emergency, and what it does (and doesn’t) cover.
Is home emergency cover worth getting?
First things first, is it worth adding home emergency cover? Like many insurance policies, this is a personal decision. It isn’t compulsory.
However, you may want to take out home emergency insurance simply because it provides reassurance. People who choose this cover will have help when their heating stops working, or their fuse box blows, and won’t have to worry about footing the bill for repairs.
Do I need home emergency cover?
Some standard home insurance policies have home emergency cover built in, but not all do.
To avoid taking out a new policy, it’s worth finding out if you already have emergency cover. If it is included, make sure you’re aware of exactly what is covered and what the limits are, as it may not be as comprehensive as you would like. Standalone home emergency policies often offer better protection.
Before deciding on whether you need a standalone policy or an add-on to existing home insurance, it’s worth considering the following.
- What level of cover do you need? Some policies only pay up to a limited amount, whereas others offer unlimited coverage.
- What do you want to be covered? Not all policies have the same inclusions, and some policies also have a cap on the number of call-outs you can make, the number of claims you can make and the maximum amount you can claim.
Do I need home emergency cover as a tenant?
As a tenant, you don’t need to take our home emergency cover. This is the responsibility of the landlord. In the event of an emergency, you should contact your landlord or the letting agent.
Is home emergency cover the same as home insurance?
No. Home insurance, also known as “home cover”, is an insurance policy which provides financial protection to your house in the event of an accident or problem. It covers the expenses associated with events such as theft, fire, and wind damage.
Home emergency cover differs from a standard home insurance policy. Home cover will cover the costs related to repairing the damage caused by an emergency. Home emergency cover, on the other hand, will pay for fixing the emergency issue and ensure it does not get worse.
It’s also important to note the difference between home insurance and home contents insurance. Home insurance protects your actual house, whereas home contents insurance covers the items inside your house.
In the case of a fire, your home insurance would cover the costs of repair to the building, while your home contents insurance would pay for the replacement of any damaged items that were insured. Home contents insurance can also cover you if you take your belongings out of the home. For example, if you take your insured camera on holiday and it’s stolen.
What counts as an emergency?
This will differ between insurance providers, but generally, an issue would be considered an “emergency” if it’s sudden, unforeseen, needs to be fixed as soon as possible, and involves any of the following:
- You have lost essential services, such as water, heating, electricity or drainage.
- Your home becomes unsafe or uninhabitable.
- Something causes permanent damage to your home.
- There is a risk to your health and well-being.
- An incident leaves your home vulnerable to further damage.
There may be events which you consider an emergency, but your insurance provider does not. For this reason, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the terms and conditions of your policy.
Does home emergency cover accidental damage?
No. Home emergency cover will pay for the costs of fixing the “emergency” issue — but not the accidental damage or repercussions of the problem.
In other words, it covers the first call-out but not the subsequent or more extensive repair work required as a result of the emergency incident.
For example, if a pipe bursts and water pours out all over the floor, the home emergency cover will cover the cost of the tradesman to come out and fix the pipe, but it will not pay for replacing the carpet or any other damage caused by the burst pipe. You would either make a claim for these damages on your home insurance or pay for it yourself.
What does home emergency cover include?
This will differ from provider to provider, but usually, it covers the costs of calling out a certified tradesperson, their labour charges and the parts needed to fix the urgent issue.
The following are typically included in home emergency cover:
1. Boiler and heating systems
You can claim from your home emergency cover for problems relating to your boiler and heating system. Many will only cover you if:
- The boiler has been serviced regularly.
- The boiler is not older than a certain number of years, usually 7 years.
- The boiler is outside of its warranty.
2. Plumbing and drainage
Home emergency cover can protect you in the event of burst pipes and blockages to drains, sinks and toilets. The issue needs to be inside your property.
Something that is often not covered by home emergency cover is trace and access, which is when the sources of a leak — whether water or gas — is located by a professional. Because finding the source of a leak is not always straightforward, the job can end up being costly. When taking out an insurance policy, it’s worth reading the fine print to determine whether trace and access insurance cover is included.
You can claim from your home emergency cover for issues which compromise your home security. This includes broken doors, windows and locks. Some policies will also cover the cost of replacing lost or stolen house keys, as well as the costs associated with regaining access to your home.
4. Electrical systems
You can claim for serious electrical issues relating to your home, such as electrical failure or a problem with your fuse box. However, electrical issues which are not limited to the home or electrical cuts caused by the grid are not covered.
5. Roof and exterior
If a storm damages your roof, home emergency cover should assist with the costs involved in making your home safe again. It might not cover the full repair costs, and you may only be able to claim if the roof damage puts the interior of your house at risk.
6. Pest infestation
Home emergency cover policies often pay for the removal of pests like mice, rats and wasps. It is less likely to cover the removal of bees and moths. Endangered species infestations are not covered.
7. Alternative accommodation
Not all cover this, but some home emergency insurance policies will pay for you to stay in alternative accommodation if your home is currently unlivable due to an emergency incident.
What does home emergency cover exclude?
Most home emergency covers do not include the following.
- General maintenance of a building.
- Any damage caused by wear and tear.
- Damp issues and rot.
- Broken boilers that are old (usually over 7 years old, but this differs between insurance policies) or which haven’t been serviced in the past 12 months.
- Boiler issues or heating problems where claims are made during summer months.
- Infestations of protected species.
- Any problems in properties which are unoccupied. If no one is living in a home (or has not been for the past 30 days), the building is considered unoccupied. In instances such as this, you would need to have unoccupied house insurance (or empty house insurance).
- Any issues considered by the insurance provider to be minor, such as dysfunctional single electric sockets or dripping taps.
- Claims made during the initial “starting period” after taking out the policy, often 14 days.
How do you make a home emergency cover claim?
Finally, how does home emergency cover work when you need to make a claim?
When you have what you deem a home emergency, the first thing to do is assess the damage. The next step is to call your insurance provider’s emergency line to make a claim.
Depending on the circumstances, the insurance provider might send someone from the insurance company to formally assess the damage. A certified tradesperson will then be contacted to come and fix your problem. This is usually done within a 24-hour period, but it will depend on your policy and location.
Does a home emergency claim affect your premium?
It depends on your insurer and the terms and conditions of your home emergency policy. As with any insurance product, always check the fine print to understand what is and isn’t included and the potential outcome of making a claim.
Home emergency cover can be worth it if you want the peace of mind that an emergency situation will be dealt with quickly by a qualified tradesperson.
Issues usually covered are boiler and heating systems related, plumbing and drainage, and electrical systems. Some policies cover security issues, pest infestations, and bad weather damage.
Home emergency cover does not cover the accidental damages as a result of the emergency. For those damages, you would need to claim from home insurance or home contents insurance.
A-Plan’s Home Emergency cover will pay up to £1,000 (parts and labour) and dispatch a professional and qualified contractor to resolve the problem for you, day or night, 365 days a year. Learn more here.