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Top tips for choosing your heating cover

Getting the right cover for your heating system is important. Follow our top tips and we’ll help you make the right choice when comparing heating cover policies and prices to find a great deal.
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It’s the middle of winter. Imagine being stuck with frozen pipes or a broken boiler as temperatures plummet. It’s everyone’s worst nightmare, and the problem is only compounded if you’re forced to spend hours on the phone trying to find an engineer who has time to come out and look at your system. And that’s before you factor in the cost of an unexpected, expensive repair.

For a single annual payment or monthly premium, heating insurance can cover the cost of servicing and repairing your boiler and heating system. But what should you be looking for when taking out central heating cover, and what do you need to be aware of?

Never fear. We’re on hand to provide you with our top tips to help you get the best possible boiler or heating cover deal.

Top tips

1. You don't have to sign up for heating cover with your gas company

This offers the easiest route to boiler cover, but simply signing up with your energy provider could cost you dearly – and isn’t compulsory. There are many different options, so make sure you compare different plans and prices to find a policy that meets your needs at the best possible price.

2. Don't wait until your heating has broken down or starts to develop problems before you take out cover

Most heating cover plans come with a no-claims period at the beginning of the policy. This is done to prevent people only taking out cover when their heating breaks down.

This means you shouldn’t wait until problems develop before taking out cover. And make sure you read the small print carefully before signing up for a cover plan to confirm what no-claims period applies to your boiler cover.

3. Look out for heating cover that includes an annual service and safety inspection

The obvious benefit of getting heating cover is to provide protection should your heating system break down. But it’s not the only reason – you should also think about safety when dealing with gas.

All work on your boiler should be carried out by a Gas Safe Register-accredited engineer, and that includes the all-important annual service inspection. Performing regular boiler checks could protect you and your family from the effects of a potentially fatal carbon monoxide leak. Find out more about gas leak safety here.

4. Having your boiler serviced can also improve its energy efficiency

Investing a little money regularly in a cover plan goes a long way towards saving you money in the long run. Boilers that are not regularly serviced will use more gas to produce less heat, which will drive up your gas bill.

Not only that but a well-serviced boiler is likely to last you longer, giving you more time to save up for its eventual replacement.

5. Think about whether you need boiler cover or central heating cover

Boiler cover protects just your boiler and controls, while central heating cover includes your full central heating system. If your main concern is your old boiler rather than your newer pipes, then boiler cover should be sufficient – and works out cheaper.

6. Check the level of cover the policy offers

Some heating cover places a limit on the amount you can claim in repairs, or the number of times you can call out an engineer. If this is the case, you’ll need to perform some calculations to compare this maximum amount with the cost of a new boiler.

The number of permitted callouts is also important. If your policy limits you to just a few callouts then there’s a good chance you might end up spending more in the long run – say on an expensive repair or replacement on top of the cost of the policy.

7. You don't need heating cover if you rent

Your heating systems are your landlord's responsibility. If you want heating cover, you’ll need to ask them to get it for you; only the homeowner can sign up for heating cover.

8. Tell-tale signs that your boiler might be about to fail

Often, your heating will break down without warning. Sometimes when one problem starts, others will follow in rapid succession. A few tell-tale signs to watch out for are:

  • The radiators don't get as hot as they normally do, although first check to see if they simply need bleeding with our guide.

  • It takes a long time to get hot water from the taps.

  • Strange banging noises could mean trouble, so call for help straight away.

You should also keep a careful eye on how much you pay for your heating. If your gas bill seems to be creeping up but your habits stay the same this could be a tell-tale sign of boiler problems.

Other issues include changes in pressure and a discoloured pilot light. Your boiler flame should always burn clear blue, rather than yellow or orange.

Read more on common boiler problems here.

Frozen pipes

One of the main reasons for calling out the repairman is frozen pipes, particularly with condensing boilers where the condensate drainage pipe often runs outside.

One of the best ways to ensure your pipes don't freeze up is to always keep your heating on during particularly cold spells. This may mean setting the thermostat quite carefully, but it could save you a fortune in repair costs.

If your pipes do freeze up you may also be able to solve the problem yourself. Pouring hot (but not boiling) water from a kettle over the pipes will help to defrost them, but if the problem persists you could also look at wrapping your pipes in a layer of insulation.

Alternatively, if the condensate pipe is freezing you could look at moving more of the pipe inside.