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Last updated
August 11th, 2023

What is home emergency cover?

Home emergency insurance – also known as home emergency assist – provides professional help if something goes wrong in your home. If an accident happens while you’re covered, your provider will send a registered tradesperson to perform emergency repairs to fix the problem.

Home emergency insurance covers you for anything that:

  • Makes your home unsafe

  • Makes your home vulnerable to thieves

  • Causes permanent damage to your home

  • Risks your health and wellbeing


Do I need home emergency cover?

Only homeowners need home emergency insurance. But before taking out separate cover, check your standard home cover policy as some buildings and contents policies include home emergency insurance. Others offer it as an extra.

If you’re a renting, any emergencies in your home should be handled by your landlord.

Landlords can get specialised landlord home emergency cover rather than a standard policy. This provides professional help if something goes wrong in your rental property.

Check your bank. If you have a packaged current account, you may find that home emergency cover is included as an extra."

What does home emergency insurance cover?

Home cover insurance covers damage that could impact your health, such as broken heating, or damage that could become permanent, like a broken roof.

It can cover boiler breakdowns, too. But you might get better protection through a specific, separate boiler insurance policy.

Your policy may also include plumbing cover, which includes any issues with your home’s plumbing and drainage.

Discover exactly what’s covered with our guide to home emergency cover.

Home emergency cover can also provide:

Alternative accommodation

If your home is rendered unsafe by flood or storm damage, your insurer should cover the cost of alternative accommodation until it’s repaired.Your policy will likely provide comparable alternative accommodation, so you should be housed in a similar sized property.

Make sure to check your level of cover, as some damage can leave your home uninhabitable for a significant period of time, sometimes over a year.

Accidental damage cover

This protects your property against any sudden and unintentional physical damage. This could include putting your foot through the ceiling when in your loft, or accidental damage to your brickwork.

These disasters could end up costing hundreds of pounds to repair, so it’s worth making sure that accidental damage is included in your cover before you buy a policy.

What are the different types of home emergency assistance cover?

Boiler and central heating

This covers you if there’s a boiler-related emergency, such as a leak or failed central heating system that leaves you with no hot water. Servicing or standard maintenance won’t be covered unless you pay extra. Also not covered are boilers under warranty, or those more than seven years old.

Plumbing and drainage cover

This covers emergency issues such as a burst pipe, blocked drain or broken toilet or shower. If you live in a flat, you may not be able to get plumbing insurance because you share pipes with other properties. Also, drainage cover doesn’t include pipes outside your home, which are the responsibility of your local authority.

Electrical

This protects you from mains electrical failures, such as permanent damage caused by a power cut. Note, most policies don’t cover damage to wires on the exterior of your home.

Roof insurance

Provides protection against bad weather damage and urgent repairs. Note that this isn’t for general maintenance. It’s to make your home safe and dry in a roof-related emergency.

Security

Home repair insurance can also be called on if a window or the locks on your external doors are broken. Most policies will only cover immediate risks; you can’t claim for new locks if you lose your keys, for example.

Pest infestation

If provided, your insurer will arrange an exterminator to remove wasps, hornets, mice or rats from your home.

What are the different types of home emergency assistance cover?

Boiler and central heating

This covers you if there’s a boiler-related emergency, such as a leak or failed central heating system that leaves you with no hot water. Servicing or standard maintenance won’t be covered unless you pay extra. Also not covered are boilers under warranty, or those more than seven years old.

Plumbing and drainage cover

This covers emergency issues such as a burst pipe, blocked drain or broken toilet or shower. If you live in a flat, you may not be able to get plumbing insurance because you share pipes with other properties. Also, drainage cover doesn’t include pipes outside your home, which are the responsibility of your local authority.

Electrical

This protects you from mains electrical failures, such as permanent damage caused by a power cut. Note, most policies don’t cover damage to wires on the exterior of your home.

Roof insurance

Provides protection against bad weather damage and urgent repairs. Note that this isn’t for general maintenance. It’s to make your home safe and dry in a roof-related emergency.

Security

Home repair insurance can also be called on if a window or the locks on your external doors are broken. Most policies will only cover immediate risks; you can’t claim for new locks if you lose your keys, for example.

Pest infestation

If provided, your insurer will arrange an exterminator to remove wasps, hornets, mice or rats from your home.

Should I get standalone home emergency insurance?

It depends on your circumstances. Some prefer to add home emergency cover to their existing home insurance policy. It’s usually cheaper than taking out an additional home emergency policy, and you’ll only have to deal with one company if you need to claim.

On the other hand, standalone insurance offers many other benefits, including:

  • Maximum protection: separate home emergency cover is usually more comprehensive than that offered by regular home insurance

  • Flexibility: tailor your policy to add the exact amount of cover you want

  • Budget control: save money with a basic policy

  • Good value: allows you to include elements like boiler servicing to provide more than just emergency cover

How do I find the best home cover?

Think about the specific areas you need to cover and focus on these when comparing home emergency policies to decide which is right for you.

When comparing quotes, also check how much cover you get for each claim, and whether there’s an excess you need to pay – most policies don’t charge this, but if they do, make sure you can afford to pay it in an emergency.

Also read other people’s home emergency cover reviews to compare experiences and find the best home insurance companies that offer policies you can rely on.

FAQs

What is an emergency?

Most insurers and cover providers define an emergency as anything that affects your health and wellbeing, or which leaves your home unsafe or prone to further damage.

Do I have to pay an excess when I make a home emergency claim?

No, most home emergency policies do not charge an excess if you claim.

Will home emergency cover all repairs?

Not always, because policies are designed to make your home safe, so only cover immediate repairs and labour costs.

Can I get home emergency with home insurance?

Yes, many insurers include it as standard or as an optional extra. A standalone policy may provide better cover so check your options to find the best protection.

Is there a limit to the number of claims I can make?

It depends on the policy, but most don’t limit the number of callouts you can make. Others may set a limit across a specified period – for example, five callouts a year.

Do I need home emergency for my tenants if I am a landlord?

No, it’s not a legal requirement, but a home emergency policy will cover any emergencies they have. It also means you won’t have to sort or repair any emergency issues yourself.

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About the author

Salman Haqqi
Salman Haqqi spent over a decade as a journalist reporting in several countries around the world. Now as a personal finance expert, he helps people make informed financial decisions.

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