Protect your boiler from the winter weather
Just a fifth of home contents policies and only a quarter (24%) of buildings insurances include cover for home emergencies as standard.
That means homeowners could be left in the cold if they get frozen or burst pipes or if their boiler completely breaks down, said Defaqto.
The financial information business added that 57% of home emergency policies do not offer anything towards the cost of replacing a boiler.
One option is to purchase a separate ‘standalone’ home emergency insurance. But that can get confusing, said Defaqto, as there are two different types:
Boiler breakdown insurance is specifically designed to protect a boiler against the cost of future breakdown. These products cover the cost of any repairs to a boiler to get it up and running again but not necessarily replace it if it is broken. A large proportion include an annual boiler service.
Home emergency insurance covers a range of emergencies that affect the home. It’s designed to help people who have been hit by an emergency to make their home safe again or reinstate essential services. It offers more comprehensive cover than boiler breakdown insurance and can provide some peace of mind heading into the winter months when homes are at risks of central heating failure, burst pipes, electrical failure and roof damage caused by extreme weather.
Brian Brown, consumer finance expert at Defaqto, said: “As the temperature starts to drop, having hot water and heating becomes a higher priority again. Modern boilers are expensive and the cost of having to replace one can be a nasty shock. If you don’t have the funds to pay for this, then a boiler breakdown policy that includes boiler replacement could be a good option for you.
“Homeowners looking for a more comprehensive cover may find a home emergency policy provides greater comfort. However the extent of cover can be limited. So it’s always worth checking the market to find a policy that’s right for your circumstances.”
Top tips to protect yourself this winter
- Check what cover you already have with your home insurance policy
- Check for any exclusions, such as the age or power output of the boiler and whether it needs to be regularly serviced or inspected
- If you bought your boiler within the last few years, check what cover the manufacturer gives as standard under the warranty, and check for any exclusions
- If you have a heating system that is powered by an electric boiler, solar or solid fuel, check whether your policy includes cover for this as many do not.
- To help prevent pipes freezing keep your heating on at regular intervals and make sure to set it on a timer if you’re going away
- Make sure that water pipes and water tanks in the loft are insulated with good quality lagging
- Know where your stopcock that turns off the incoming water supply is, and make sure that it works
Repair any dripping taps. This will help prevent water from freezing.
- If your pipes freeze turn water off at the main stopcock straight away and then wait for it to warm up or you can try and thaw the pipes with a hot water bottle
- If a pipe has burst, turn off the water at the stopcock. Switch off central heating and any other water heating installations. Open all taps to drain the system
- Contact your insurance company helpline for help and advice, including arranging for professional repairs to be carried out
- Finally, be prepared and make sure you have the emergency contact details for your insurance provider or emergency plumber should you need them.