What is home emergency cover?

If you have a problem in your home that needs fixing straight away, a home emergency policy can get you the help you need. Here is what home emergency cover can protect you against.

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Plumber fixing some pipes under a sink.

Home emergency cover can provide peace of mind that help will be at hand if an unexpected incident occurs at your home, such as a water leak or boiler breakdown. This guide explains what you need to know.

How does home emergency cover work?

Home emergency cover is an insurance policy that can give you fast assistance if you have an emergency in your home.

The insurer will arrange for a registered tradesperson to come to your home and fix your emergency as quickly as possible. This is usually within 24 hours but may stretch to a couple of days.

Home emergency cover will pay for the cost of call-out fees and emergency repairs, but it won’t cover any damage caused by the emergency itself. So, if a water leak has ruined your kitchen floor, you’ll need to claim for the floor damage separately on your home insurance policy.

What counts as an emergency?

Most insurers define an emergency as something that:

  • Makes your home unsafe or vulnerable to thieves

  • Will cause permanent damage to your home

  • Causes a risk to your health and wellbeing

You can only use home emergency cover for situations that match the insurer's definition of an emergency.

Do you need home emergency cover?

Check your home insurance policy carefully before you buy home emergency cover because you may already have protection.

Some home insurers include home emergency as part of their standard cover or let you add it as an optional extra.

If you do have home emergency cover included, check the details because you may be able to get a better deal with a standalone home emergency policy.

If you rent your property, it is up to the landlord to arrange home emergency cover –  you won’t need to arrange your own cover. You should contact them or your letting agent in the event of an emergency.

What does a home emergency policy cover?

A home emergency policy can protect you in the event of several potential problems:

Boiler and heating systems

If your boiler stops working, you could be left without heating and hot water, so you need to get the problem sorted as soon as possible, especially when it is cold.

Home emergency policies can cover boiler breakdowns and other issues like faulty radiators, but you could get better protection through a boiler insurance policy.

Some home emergency policies limit how much you can claim for boiler repair costs, for example, £250 for each claim. Here is what cover a boiler insurance policy can give you.

Plumbing and drainage

Home emergency cover can pay for any issues you have involving your plumbing and drainage, like a burst pipe.

Most policies can also cover your:

  • Toilet if it is broken and you do not have another in your home

  • Shower if it develops a serious leak

  • Stopcock, as long as it is within the property boundaries

If you live in a flat or apartment you may not get cover for your plumbing, because you share pipes with other properties.

Check with your management company if your building is covered if you live in a block of flats.

Electrics

You will be covered if you suffer an electrical failure that makes your home uninhabitable.

This could include the wiring to your lighting or boiler failing or a fault in the permanent electrical supply to your home.

Most policies will not cover any wiring outside your home or any temporary wiring.

Security

You can call on emergency assistance if the security of your home is compromised, for example:

  • The locks on your external doors are broken

  • A window is broken

Most policies will only cover you if there is an immediate security risk to your property.

You will not usually be covered for replacement locks if you lose your keys, but some comprehensive policies cover this.

Roof and exterior

Some policies will cover you if bad weather causes damage to your roof.

You may only be able to claim if the damage to your roof leads to the interior of your home being damaged. For example, if tiles come off your roof and expose the inside of your house to the elements.

Home emergency cover may not repair the damage, but will make it safe so your home is no longer at risk.

Pest infestation

You may be covered if your home has an infestation of pests, including:

  • Wasps

  • Hornets

  • Mice or rats

Your insurer can arrange for an exterminator to come to your property and get rid of the pests, and you can also claim the cost of accommodation if they need to fumigate your home.

Not all home emergency cover policies protect against pet infestations, so read the policy carefully if you want this cover.

What does home emergency cover exclude?

Common exclusions include:

  • Damage caused by wear and tear or poor maintenance

  • Unoccupied homes - if your property is left empty for longer than 30 days

  • Claims for boiler or heating issues made during the summer months

  • Claims made during the first 14 days after taking out cover

How to get home emergency cover

Home emergency cover is often offered as an optional add on to your home insurance policy, but make sure you also look at standalone home emergency policies because they could offer better protection.

Adding home emergency to your home insurance could be the cheapest option, but it may not offer the best cover. Before you compare deals, think about:

  • What level of cover do you need: some home emergency policies offer unlimited cover, but others only pay up to a set amount or limit the number of call-outs you can make.

  • What you want to be covered: most policies cover boilers and burst pipes, but you may have to pay extra to protect your home against electrical faults or pests.

Once you know what cover you want, you should compare policies to find the one that gives you the protection you need at the best price.

Protect your home and belongings for less by comparing home insurance policies to cover a range of property types and individual circumstances.