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Boilers – This winter’s £280 household timebomb

Boiler breakdown could leave those without boiler cover £280 out of pocket.

boiler repair

Seven out of ten of us are due to switch on their heating by the end of this week as winter fast approaches, but a boiler breakdown is likely to leave the average household without boiler cover £280 out of pocket.

Given that the average cost of boiler cover is available from around £130 – in fact even cheaper boiler cover is available from just over £87 a year, but it usually with an excess –  we conducted a survey to see why people weren’t more convinced by boiler cover. This is what we found:

1) 39% said they couldn’t afford, despite the fact they were leaving themselves vulnerable to a hefty and unexpected lump sum payment.

2) … but some people did realise that counting the pennies might mean insuring yourself against nasty surprise –  two in ten people considering taking out boiler cover are doing so precisely because of that reason.

3) Old and inefficient boilers do still exist despite the fact that they waste energy and over a third of people are worried that their boiler is old and likely to breakdown.

As our energy expert, Tom Lyon,said: “It seems an easy saving to make, but going without boiler cover could leave you strapped for cash if your boiler packs up and you don’t have the money spare to pay for repairs.

“The average repair bill last year was £280. If this would be difficult for you to find then boiler cover could give you peace of mind.

“If boiler cover is the right option for you then it is vital to shop around for the best deal. It’s important to note that some of the cheapest plans carry an excess. If this would be difficult for you to pay then you might be better off going for a slightly more expensive option that doesn’t have an excess.

“Prices and the level of cover can vary, with some suppliers also including an annual boiler safety inspection. Importantly, you are not obliged to take boiler cover through your gas supplier – you really are free to take advantage of a deal that suits your household’s needs.”

Boiler cover plans


Plan Name

First Year Cost

Monthly Cost

Maximum cover per year

Safety Check


Gas Boiler Breakdown Cover






Boiler care flexi





Home Comfort Standard Care





Boiler & Controls Care




British Gas

HomeCare 100




Source: Prices correct as of 01/10/2012. All plans cover boiler and controls. Based on a 5 year old Baxi Gas combination boiler with no existing cover in Nottingham.

Our top heating cover tips

1) You don’t have to sign up for heating cover with your standard gas supplier, choose the most appropriate cover to suit your needs

2) An annual service and safety inspection helps reduce the chance of fatal carbon monoxide leaks and improves energy efficiency

3) Boilers that are not regularly serviced will produce less heat from the gas consumed, which in turn means they cost more to run

4) Often, a boiler will break down without warning. Sometimes when one part starts to go wrong other problems rapidly follow. Here are a few tell-tale signs to watch out for:

a. The radiators don’t get as hot as they should
b. It takes a long time to get hot water from the taps
c. Strange banging noises could mean trouble, so call for help straight away

5) To help prevent boiler bother, you can:

a. Make sure that you keep the whole area around the boiler clean
b. Have regular maintenance checks
c. Don’t overheat your home

6) Turning your central heating thermostat down by 1 degree Celsius could save you up to
10% on bills

7) Replacing an old conventional boiler with a high-efficiency condensing boiler will save you
around a third on your heating bill, and up to 40% with the right heating controls

8 ) Carbon Monoxide is the ‘silent killer’ – poisoning can be avoided by ensuring that fuel- burning appliances have the correct level of ventilation. Never allow chimneys or air vents to become blocked. Have your appliances checked by a Gas Safe Register engineer once a year.

  • Nick Smith

    Great story!

  • Heynonny

    So if your boiler breaks down, on average, once every 3 years, you’re better off without insurance and just paying as you go?

  • Caliban

    Can’t believe the Telegraph is recommending its readers to do something completely stupid.

    Simple arithmetic – if the average insurance cost is £150*, in two years you will have paid out £300. The average breakdown costs £280.

    Your boiler would have to breakdown EVERY YEAR for insurance to make sense. I wonder how much those insurers paid the Daily Telegraph to publish this nonsense.

    * The average insurance is NOT £130. That is the CHEAPEST insurance cost. Where we are told excesses may apply. And even if they don’t, 2 years premiums amount to £260 – a whole £20 less than the average breakdown cost.

  • Caliban

    Just realised this was only a link from the Telegraph website. So please read U Switch for the Telegraph.

    I have used U Switch in the past to get a better energy deal. I now wonder if their switching advice is as stupid and of such dubious motives as their insurance advice,

    Think I will find another comparison site next time.

  • din dong

    Well, now we know just how stupid the telegraph considers its readers to be. Bankers have their Muppets and Dorris money, the Telegraph has its nit wits and punters so they think.

    In case this comment does not make sense, I got here with a direct link from the Telegraph.

  • Bearlyonline

    There are many “old” boilers out there that are just as efficient and less probe to breakdown (if regularly serviced) than the new condensing boilers, and capable of going on for a good few years yet. U-Switch: you’ll have to do better than this.

  • Artpop83

    Southern Electric also provide boiler care and include safety inspection plus as new customer can get 1 month free or £40 to energy bill and with British Gas included inspection as a standard.

  • rod

    I have yet to find an insurer that covers oil boilers, They all seem to be exclusively Gas Boiler Insurers.

  • Daphne Davis

    You’d be better off saving your money to put towards a new boiler than buying a ‘heating plan’!

  • Grumpy Bob

    What a load of crap…
    I’m a gas engineer and you’d be unlucky if you had to call me out to fix faults year after year, annual services should keep you safe and have an idea if anything could go wrong in the near future.
    Contracts are rip off’s
    I’ve worked for a big energy company and you only get value if your boiler is prone to issues!
    Therefore don’t buy cheap nasty boilers and you should be fine

  • Mark Yates

    When my heating cover ran out with BG I suspected there might be a cheaper alternative that would be just as good but without the high yearly price. I knew it was a good idea to get quotes and so on, so I did. That’s why I chose STL Heating because not only is their boiler cover comprehensive and cheaper than BG – but those guys have got a great reputation too (as I saw from their reviews page).