Whether it’s a broken boiler, a frozen pipe that bursts, a radiator not working or an electricity outage, the coming colder and darker months are the worst time of the year to experience such issues.
Now if you’re like me, you’ll have taken out cover to protect you should anything go wrong.
But no matter how covered you think you are, things may not always be straightforward when you need to use it.
As the founder, I had the idea for Resolver.co.uk after my boiler broke and the repair insurance I had taken out didn’t come to my rescue as efficiently as it should have.
After weeks of hassle, I made it my mission to ensure no-one else suffers like I did and that’s why I suggest now is the time to be checking your cover and knowing exactly what it offers you in an emergency.
It’s not my place to advise on which policy or cover is right for you but in my experience, there are many things I’d recommend to consider.
Like most things in life, it’s much easier and cheaper if you actively seek to prevent problems in the first place, and if you insure against them, but you need to know the cover or service plan will pay out enough to at least fix, or even replace whatever is broken.
But do you know what type of policy you actually have and where you can turn if it fails to deliver on what you hoped?
For example, insurance – whether on your home buildings or contents policy or an actual insurance policy to cover a leak or loss of heating, is one thing. But a Service Agreement is another thing entirely.
If you have problems with an insurance policy and your case is not resolved in eight weeks then you can escalate it to the Financial Ombudsman Service for a free independent assessment.
But a Service Agreement is NOT insurance so this is not covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service.
This means you do not have an independent way to challenge decisions and while the Retail Ombudsman or Consumer Ombudsman may be able to investigate your case, the company does not have to agree on an independent case assessment.
Then they’re warranties. Extended versions of these are often costly and tend to come with a lot of exclusions.
Always be sure to check the cover terms closely and remember than any installations you’ve had, say for a boiler, in the last 12 months will be covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 if there’s a problem.
So what else should you be thinking about when it comes to taking out this sort of insurance cover or protection plans?
For a start, always use a comparison website like moneysavingexpert.com – as you’ll find a range of deals and offers out there.
But remember that low-priced introductory deals are only cheap for a limited period and the cost at renewal will be much more. And if a deal seems too good to be true, then sometimes it is and may not include the essentials.
Then there’s comparing feedback. Not just from comparison sites and customer reviews but also by talking to family and friends. If they’ve had a bad experience, you need to know about it so you can shop around elsewhere. You don’t want to be faced with a repair that takes weeks to happen while you sit shivering.
If you can, make sure to that any repair cover is for both parts and labour – and annual servicing in the case of your boiler and heating. That way you won’t be left with a big bill shock, maybe just a standard excess to pay in the case of a claim being made.
You should also be checking that anyone doing work for you – whether a plumber, electrician or heating engineer – is registered with the appropriate trade body.
That way you can raise a complaint with them if you feel you have an issue. Examples are Gas Safe and NICEIC. You can also look for a TrustMark or Buy With Confidence stamp.
And finally, ALWAYS check the expiry dates of your policies. A policy should roll over to keep continuous cover but no-one wants to go and make a claim only to be told the insurance or service cover is no longer valid.