Having home emergency cover means you can get professional help if something goes wrong in your home.

If you’ve got home emergency insurance and an accident happens, your provider sends a registered tradesperson to fix the problem. It’s a way of guaranteeing that you’ll get home emergency assistance if the unexpected happens.

Home emergency insurance covers you for anything that:

  • Makes your home unsafe

  • Makes your home vulnerable to thieves

  • Will cause permanent damage to your home

  • Risks your health and wellbeing.

It’s sometimes called ‘home emergency assist’. Remember that it doesn’t cover the cost of putting any damage to your home right after the emergency. That’s what your contents insurance is for.

Who needs home emergency cover?

You only need home emergency insurance if you’re a homeowner. If you’re a tenant, any emergencies in your home should be handled by your landlord.

If you’re a landlord, you can get specialised landlord home emergency cover rather than a standard policy. This means you’ll be able to get professional help if something goes wrong in your rental property.

You should check your standard home cover policy before taking out separate home emergency cover. This is because some buildings and contents insurance policies include home emergency. Others let you add it as an extra.

What does home emergency insurance cover?

Homecare insurance covers you for damage that impacts your health, such as broken heating. It also covers you for damage that could become permanent, like a broken roof.

Home emergency assistance can cover boiler breakdowns, too. But you might get better protection through a specific, separate boiler insurance policy. Read more on boiler cover here.

Your policy can also give you plumbing cover, which includes any issues with your home’s plumbing and drainage.

Get more information from our guide to home emergency cover.

What are the different types of home emergency assistance cover?

There are different types of home emergency cover and landlord emergency cover available. The more cover you have, the more your policy will cost.

Here are some examples:

Plumbing and drainage cover: Plumbing and drainage insurance covers emergency issues such as a burst pipe or blocked drain. It also covers a broken toilet or shower (if you only have one). If you live in a flat, you may not get plumbing insurance because you share pipes with other properties. And drainage cover doesn’t include pipes outside of your home, which are the responsibility of local authorities.

Electrical: This protects you from mains electrical failures. This could also include permanent damage caused by a power cut, but most policies won’t cover you for damage to wires on the outside of your home.

Boiler and central heating: This is for if you’ve got a leak or your central heating fails, and you’re left without hot water. It’s for if there’s a boiler emergency, but it’s not for standard servicing or maintenance unless you pay extra for this. It won’t cover boilers that are under warranty, or boilers older than around seven years.

Security: You can call on your home repair insurance if the locks on your external doors are broken, or if your window’s broken. Most policies will only cover you if there’s an immediate risk. And you won’t be covered for new locks if you lose your keys. Roof insurance: You can get roof insurance for bad weather damage and urgent repairs. This isn’t for general maintenance, it’s for making your home safe and dry in a roof-related emergency.

Pest infestation: You may be able to use your homecare cover if your home’s got an infestation of wasps, hornets, mice or rats. Your insurer can arrange for an exterminator to get rid of them.

Some home service insurance providers will be very specific about what they’ll pay out for. Some home maintenance insurance policies will only cover combi boilers under a certain age. So it’s worth studying the requirements before you commit to one.

What’s not included in home emergency cover?

Home insurance emergency cover policies have lots of exclusions, so it’s unlikely you’ll be covered for every possible scenario.

Some of the things likely to be excluded from your policy are:

Damage repair: Emergency home cover covers you for immediate fixes. But it won’t cover you for the repair work that needs doing later. So, if you had a burst pipe, your home care cover would fix it. But it wouldn’t pay for the floors or paintwork that needed repairing, or improvements to your heating system to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Your regular home insurance might cover the repairs, though.

Unoccupied properties: Some home cover insurance policies won’t cover you if the home’s been left empty for more than a month. Other policies have the same rule, but for a different length of time. You can get unoccupied property insurance if you plan to be away from your home for a while.

General wear and tear: Standard maintenance isn’t covered by home emergency assistance insurance.

Negligence: If you don’t look after your home and carry out routine maintenance, your policy might refuse to pay out. They might feel your emergency was caused by negligence.

Claim cap: Some policies have a claim cap per claim. Check the policy details to make sure it would cover you for the call out, the parts, the labour and the VAT.

Callout/claim cap: Some emergency insurance policies put a limit on how many callouts and claims you’re entitled to during your policies.

Cooling off period: Some home care insurance policies have a cooling off period, during which you can’t make any claims.

Is it best to get standalone home service insurance or just add on to your regular home insurance?

There are pros and cons to both.

Some people prefer to add home emergency cover to their home insurance. This means they have just one insurance company to deal with if something goes wrong.

While standalone home emergency cover might cost more, it comes with lots of other benefits. These include:

  • You can tailor your policy more, adding as much or as little cover as you like

  • You can cut costs with a basic policy

  • It can work out good value if you include boiler servicing

  • You could have two insurance companies to deal with if something goes wrong

  • The most comprehensive policies can be expensive.

Remember that not many regular home insurance companies include emergency cover as standard. You’ll usually need to buy it as an add-on, and it won’t be as comprehensive as standalone home emergency cover can be.

How to find the best home cover for you

If you already have regular home emergency cover, check your policy to see what it includes. You need to make sure you won’t be paying for anything twice.

Sometimes banks offer packaged current accounts which include home protect emergency cover. Check to see if yours does.

Think about the specific things you may want covered and focus on these when deciding on the best home emergency cover for you.

When you start looking for home emergency cover compare policies to see which emergency insurance suits you best.

When you compare home emergency cover quotes, check how much cover you get for each claim. Make sure you can afford to pay the excess if something goes wrong.

You can also read other people’s home emergency cover reviews to see what experiences they’ve had. It’ll help you to find the best home insurance companies. This is a good idea whether you’re the homeowner, or you’re looking for landlord emergency cover. In either situation, having reliable home breakdown cover will be extremely helpful.