Home emergency cover
Home emergency cover provides you with a 24-hour helpline number to call in the event of a household emergency. This might be a burst water pipe, blocked drains or toilets, or broken or damaged doors or windows that pose a security risk.
Household contents insurance does not always cover you for such home emergencies, so check whether your provider includes the service free as part of its standard policy, or whether you need to pay extra to add it.
Each insurance provider sends out its own approved tradesperson to fix your home emergency, so you will not usually be able to choose who carries out the work.
Home emergency cover premiums can vary from less than £50 a year to more than £500, but you need to read the small print to find out exactly what each policy covers before you commit. Some of the things to look out for include:
- the excess, which varies from policy to policy, with some charging no excess at all;
- the limit on the number of claims you can make per policy period – again, this varies from policy to policy, with some allowing an unlimited number of claims;
- the upper limit on the costs of any call-out: some policies may allow a maximum claim of say £500 per emergency;
- whether or not boiler breakdowns are included – some policies exclude these and you will need another add-on insurance policy to take care of central heating problems;
- whether the insurer will pay for temporary accommodation if you have to move out overnight – some policies, for example, offer up to £100 towards overnight accommodation costs.
The pitfalls of self-insuring
With many householders currently feeling the pinch, some are choosing to abandon home emergency cover in favour of self-insuring: putting away some cash each month to cover themselves in the event of something going wrong. The big flaw in this approach is that if you need cash for an emergency sooner rather than later, the chances are you won't have saved enough to cover it - whereas if you don't experience any home emergencies for the first few years you may be in a better position if the worst does happen. If you take out a proper insurance policy, on the other hand, you don't need to worry about the timing of your household emergencies!