Home emergency cover helps you avoid being hit with the cost of call-out fees, labour and parts if you need urgent repairs to your property. But what counts as an emergency, and is the extra cost worth it?
What is home emergency cover?
A home emergency insurance policy covers your expenses for fixing urgent issues in your home, like an electrical failure or your boiler breaking down.
How home emergency cover works
When you make a claim, the insurer sends out an approved engineer or plumber as quickly as possible to fix the issue, and they cover the bill for labour, parts and materials, up to an agreed maximum cost.
If your home is unsafe to stay in while the problem is fixed, your insurance may also cover overnight accommodation for you and your family, up to a maximum cost.
Is home emergency cover and standard home insurance the same thing?
No. Home emergency cover is different from a standard home insurance policy because it kicks in as soon as a home emergency occurs, and covers the callout but not the ensuing repair and replacement job.
A standard home insurance policy covers the cost of repairing the damage caused by the incident, or replacing belongings, but it doesn’t cover your callout. If you only have home insurance cover, you must arrange and pay for your callout yourself, finding an appropriate professional for the job.
Why would I need home emergency cover?
Let’s say, for example, one of your pipes bursts and floods your lounge. Sadly it happens up and down the country, especially in winter.
At this point, your home emergency cover would kick in – you’d make your claim, an appropriate professional would be called out to fix the broken pipe, and offer an overnight hotel stay if your home is uninhabitable.
To replace your ruined sofa and floorboards, and for any extensive plumbing repairs needed after the fix, you’d need to make a claim on your home insurance.
What is considered an emergency?
A home emergency, as defined in most policies, is a sudden and unforeseen incident in the home that needs to be fixed as soon as possible because:
- You’ve lost essential services, such as mains drainage, heating, lighting or water
- Your property has become permanently damaged, dangerous or uninhabitable
- Your health and wellbeing could be at risk
What does home emergency cover include?
Home emergency cover means cover to fix unexpected problems that affect your living conditions urgently, including the following:
- Plumbing and drainage issues
- Boiler and central heating breakdown
- Electrical failure
- Pest infestations, such as rats, mice, wasps and hornets in your home
- Security issues, like broken front door locks and lost house keys
- Roof damage after a storm that exposes your home
What isn’t covered by home emergency cover?
It’s like home emergency insurance won’t cover or include things like;
- Issues caused by lack of maintenance, poor handiwork, faulty design or wear and tear
- Breakdown of appliances like electric showers and air conditioning
- Faults resulting from hard water scale deposits, sludge or blockages
- Limitless claims in one policy year, unless it’s a policy specifically offering unlimited claims
- The total cost, if the urgent fix costs more than the maximum claim amount in callout charges, labour and parts, including VAT
- Power cuts due to external factors, like the National Grid, or problems with wiring outside of your home
- Boilers that are older than a certain number of years, or that haven’t been serviced, or that are still covered under warranty. Standalone policies may include an annual boiler service
- Emergencies that happen within 14 days of a policy start date
- Properties left unoccupied for over 30 or 60 days in a row, depending on your policy
- Making repairs beyond the emergency fix, if further work is needed. For that, you’ll need to make a claim on your home insurance
Do you need home emergency cover?
Home emergency cover isn’t mandatory, but if you’re a homeowner and want the peace of mind of knowing that emergencies can be covered and dealt with fast, it might be worth considering. As a rough guide, callout fees and rates for plumbers out of hours can cost over £100, before labour and parts are added.
Before you buy home emergency cover:
Check what’s already included on your home insurance policy. Some standard policies already include a level of home emergency cover, so you don’t want to double-up. Just make sure that the claims cap, for example £200, is enough for what you want it to cover, bearing in mind that basic cover may have exclusions for things like pest removal or boiler cover.
Do landlords need home emergency cover?
If you’re a landlord with a little black book full of tradespeople of all skillsets, you might feel emergency cover isn’t necessary. But if you rent out a few properties and you want peace of mind, you might want to consider it, especially if you’re in another city or country and can’t get there quickly.
How to reduce the risk of a home emergency
Emergencies do happen. But there are a number of tasks you can tick off to significantly reduce the probability of them happening to you:
- Have an annual boiler service by a Gas Safe registered engineer
- Repair dripping taps and check lagging in pipes and tanks is secure
- Know where your stopcock is located, so you can quickly stop your water supply at the mains if needed
- Don’t put food, coffee grounds, oil and fat down the kitchen sink, as it may cause drainage issues and blockages that lead to plumbing problems
- Clear your gutters once a year – built-up leaf sludge can cause problems. Contact HomeServe if you need any help
- Get any electrical issues checked out by a qualified electrician asap, including:
1. Noisy fuse box
2. Switches that keep tripping
3. Flickering lights
4. Worn cables and cords
5. Discoloration of sockets
Contact HomeServe if you need any help
If you need help installing a new boiler or with a one-off repair, we have home experts on standby to help you. You can also check out our different home emergency insurance covers to find out more about what’s covered for homeowners and landlords.
Is HomeServe plumbing cover worth it?
Yes. Plumbing and drainage issues are commonplace in the UK, especially during winter. With plumbing and drainage cover you can rest assured that a qualified professional plumber can fix and/or replace what you need so that your home life or your property isn’t inconvenienced for long.
Are drains covered by insurance?
Yes. You can choose a HomeServe plumbing and drainage policy or get an all-in-one central heating, plumbing and drainage, electrics and pest control policy. Mix and match for your needs on our site.
Does HomeServe cover pest control?
Yes. Choose from a range of HomeServe home insurance policies for extra peace of mind. We can cover household appliances, your boiler, your property’s plumbing and drainage as well as its electrics and central heating. Our most comprehensive policies also offer pest control.