Boiler cover is a type of insurance policy or service agreement that, in return for a monthly or annual fee, covers the cost of servicing and repairing your boiler. You can also cover your heating system too for an additional premium.
A qualified engineer will fix the problem quickly with the callout, parts and labour costs already covered.
There are two basic types of boiler breakdown cover to choose from:
Cover for just your boiler and heating controls
Cover for your whole heating system including hot water
Some boiler cover plans allow you – for an additional fee – to add on extra protection to cover your plumbing, electrics and drains.
Boiler breakdown cover plans include the repair of your boiler and heating controls should either break down. The plan may include an annual oil-fired or gas boiler maintenance check and service; if not, you can add this as an extra. The plan should cover callout, parts and labour, but remember you’ll need to pay the excess fee each time you make a callout.
A typical gas boiler safety check should include the following:
Visual inspection – including cleaning and adjustment of components as required
Boiler controls – your boiler functions should be checked to ensure they’re working correctly
Flue check – the inspection includes checking it’s safely fitted and that there are no obstructions
Component cleanup – the boiler’s primary components, including burner and heat exchanger, will be removed, inspected for potential defects and cleaned as necessary
Other checks include the pilot burner, flame sense device, thermostat, boiler operation, ventilation, heating controls, electrical wiring, boiler location, seals, gas and pressure flow, and safety devices.
Once all the tests have been completed, the engineer should also make sure all settings are restored to where they were before they arrived, so your heating is working as it was previously.
Full central heating cover extends protection beyond just your boiler and heating controls to also encompass other parts of the system, including the radiators, pump and flue. The plan should cover callout, parts and labour.
An annual safety check and service may be included; if not, this can usually be added as an extra. You can compare boiler cover from a range of suppliers online with Uswitch.
Boiler cover plans vary widely as to what they do and don’t cover, so there’s no definitive answer to this question.
Some boiler breakdown cover plans offer unlimited claims and cover each year. Other boiler cover plans set a maximum financial limit to the cost of repairs (or replacement boiler if required), while others set a cap on the number of callouts each year.
Some boiler cover plans also contain specific exclusions to include what they won’t provide cover for – for example, damage from the build-up of scale in your boiler and system.
Boiler breakdown cover cuts down the hassle and stress of having to find a qualified engineer in an emergency and can help minimise the time you’re left without heat or water.
Central-heating faults can be hard to pinpoint and expensive to repair under normal circumstances, so in addition to peace of mind and confidence that a problem can be fixed quickly, you can also avoid an unexpected and potentially expensive repair bill.
This depends on how you view your level of risk. If, for example, you live in a newly built home with a new system, then cheaper boiler breakdown cover might be enough. On the other hand, if your boiler is over five years old or out of warranty, you might consider more comprehensive central heating cover.
Boiler plans differ in cost and cover. You can compare boiler cover online with Uswitch.
These are the terms and conditions that come with all contracts, and you should read through them carefully before signing up for any policy. Check to see what’s included and excluded – as defined by the scope of the policy (below) and check to ensure your boiler is the correct age and type to be covered by the policy.
This varies according to the contract. First, make sure the cover you take out offers the protection you need: boiler-only breakdown policies protect your boiler and heating controls, but no more; you’ll need central heating cover if you want to extend protection to your entire central heating system.
Other things to look out for include what limits – if any – there are to the number of callouts you can make during the term of the contract. You should also make a note of any excess, as you’ll need to pay this amount – typically £50-£100 – each time you call out an engineer.
There are also likely limits to both the cost of repairing your system – say £1,500 – and the time an engineer can spend attempting to repair it.
You may find some repairs aren’t covered by your policy – for example, damage due to the build-up of limescale. As always, check the policy carefully before taking it out.
Finally, look out for what may be termed a ‘waiting period’ – a set number of days after the policy starts before you can make your first claim. If you can’t wait that long for a callout, you’ll have to pay for those repairs yourself.
Most boiler maintenance contracts are 12 months long – you can either pay for the policy outright when taking it out or opt to spread the cost across the length of the contract by paying monthly (note, paying monthly could cost up to 30% more over the length of the policy due to the addition of interest). Towards the end of your contract, you should receive a quote for its automatic renewal when the policy ends. You’re not obliged to accept this quote and can shop around to see if you can get a better deal using a site like Uswitch’s boiler comparison service.
There are three main types of gas and oil-fired boilers: conventional, condensing and combination. Electric boilers can also be used in conventional heating systems, offering a compact and light alternative.
A conventional boiler burns fuel in a combustion chamber surrounded by a water jacket. This heats the water, which is then circulated around the heating system.
Not all the heat produced by burning fuel in a conventional boiler is used to heat the water; some of it is lost to the surrounding air, and some heat disappears up the flue.
Condensing boilers burn fuel to heat the water in a similar way to conventional boilers but are more efficient as they’re designed to recover more of the heat normally lost through the flue of a conventional (non-condensing) boiler.
They can convert more than 90 per cent of the fuel they use into useful heat, compared to around 78 per cent for a new conventional boiler. They are, however, more expensive to buy than a conventional boiler.
Combination or combi boilers are a type of condensing boiler that provides both central heating and hot water, the latter on demand. They are energy efficient, cheap to run and compact, plus save valuable space as you don’t need to store hot water in a separate tank.
Prices vary widely and depend on a variety of factors including:
the size of your home
how you heat it
the age and make of your boiler.
The premium will also depend on the type and extent of cover you choose.
The cheapest option is boiler-only cover - you'll pay more to cover your whole central heating system and for an annual service and oil-fired or gas boiler maintenance check. Use Uswitch to compare boiler cover plans online.
Check that your make and age of boiler can be covered. Some providers only cover boilers up to a certain age, usually 15 years old. Ideally, pick a plan that covers the lifetime of your boiler.
Is there access to a 24-hour helpline, 365 days a year?
How long will you have to wait for an engineer to visit?
Is there an initial no-claims or ‘waiting’ period during which time you can't claim and, if so, how long is it for?
Is there a limit to the number of callouts or to the amount you can claim each year?
Are there any extra charges for parts or labour?
Heating cover plans can be service contracts, which include an annual inspection or service, or heating breakdown cover products, to which you can add an annual inspection and service. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), an independent watchdog that oversees financial products, regulates the latter.
The difference between the two types of products is largely in the way each product is described, their different complaints procedures, and the tax you pay – service contracts are subject to VAT, whereas FCA-regulated plans are subject to insurance premium tax (IPT) at a standard rate of 10 per cent.
All heating plans shown on the Uswitch comparison tables include VAT and IPT where applicable.
If a boiler is deemed to be beyond economical repair, then it is not economically viable to repair the boiler. A boiler cover company may offer a one-off contribution towards the cost of a new boiler.
A gas, electricity, oil or solid fuel-powered heating device that provides hot water and central heating.
See Boiler cover.
A plan to cover the cost of repairing and maintaining your boiler and/or central heating system.
A boiler cover plan that only covers your boiler and its controls.
A pipe that removes the poisonous gases produced by the boiler.
A visit to a home by an engineer.
Gas Safe Register is the national watchdog for gas safety in the UK. Only Gas Safe registered engineers are legally allowed to repair or service boilers.
An independent non-governmental body given statutory powers by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 to oversee the regulation of financial products.
A payment plan lays out when and how much you must pay for your boiler cover.
The notice sent by the insurer to you as the policyholder inviting you to renew your policy.
A boiler cover plan that covers your boiler and its controls and your central heating system.