Savvy Money: Boiler breakdown cover... Is it worth it?

We all fear winter without heat but a service contract or insurance may not be the answer

It was in the recent cold snap that I flicked on my heating to hear – absolutely nothing. In the coldest week of the winter to date, with snow on the ground, my heating had broken down and naturally it was at a weekend.

I didn't have breakdown cover and had to replace my ageing boiler. But is this cover worth buying or a waste of money?

What you get

The principle of boiler breakdown cover is straightforward enough, but there are big differences in the policies in cost, the level of cover and whether or not you can get a replacement boiler.

Boiler breakdown plans are sold by specialist warranty providers, energy suppliers (the major ones) and boiler manufacturers and while many are essentially insurance policies, some are service contracts.

The difference is that if it's insurance based (shown by the words "underwritten by" in the terms and conditions) and there's a problem which the provider doesn't sort out to your satisfaction, you can complain to the free-to-use Financial Ombudsman Service. You do not have this recourse if it is a service contract.

What's the cost?

The cheapest policies generally only cover the boiler and controls but most companies have more expensive versions that include the whole heating system (but not solar panels).

For example, Domestic and General's boiler and controls-only policy costs £11 a month – add in a service and it's £16 a month – while a policy covering the whole system is £18 a month. nPower's boiler-only cover is £9.95 a month (£11.50 in year two onwards) with a £50 fixed call-out fee, while its central heating cover is £15 a month (£17.50 from year two).

What to be aware of

You can't normally make a claim for at least 14 days in the case of British Gas, although most others have a waiting time of 30 days, and some companies will "inspect" the boiler before they agree to cover it. Several will insure a boiler as long as they can still get parts for it.

Check the limit on the amount you can claim in repairs and parts. British Gas will pay up to £1,000 a year, Domestic and General and Potterton will pay up to £1,500 while Warmguard, which is part of warranty company WMS Group, Scottish Power, Eon and nPower are among those with no limits on call-outs or how much you can claim.

If the company decides your boiler isn't worth repairing, you may – or may not – get a replacement. For example, Scottish Power won't give you a replacement boiler, but Warmguard, Eon, and British Gas will pay for a new one if your boiler is up to seven years old (up to 10 years old with British Gas if you've had cover with them since you bought it).

What's not covered

Damage from limescale and sludge build-up isn't normally covered, although some policies include scale damage to the boiler. That means if your central heating system needs a power flush to get rid of sludge build-up you could have a bill for between £350 and £500 which the policy wouldn't pay.

Is it worth it?

If you have little by way of savings, so you couldn't afford it if your boiler went wrong, breakdown cover could be useful. But, after talking to a number of plumbers, you may be better off buying a reliable boiler, fitting a magnetic filter (and scale reducer, if you're in a hard water area) and getting it serviced every year.

www.savvywoman.co.uk

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk