Since Resolver began, we’ve received 1,700 complaints about boiler cover in its many forms. Complaints are up, but we’ve changed our codes in the last year which has thrown out the stats! We’re averaging about 700 a year at the moment, but if the weather goes mad, that goes up.
The big question – is it worth it – is subjective. But I suggest two things. Add up what the policy will come to for the year. Now is that more or less than you’d have to pay for a call out or replacement? Secondly, speak to your home and contents insurer. Some policies do have home emergency cover built in so there’s no point being ‘double insured’.
Of course, for many people having the peace of mind makes insurance worth it. My boiler is particularly useless and has utterly failed to respond to threats, rude words and promises of violence. I have learned to reboot it, re-pressurise it and I know what every flashing symbol of doom means. Still it mocks me. So I do have the cover.
Here’s my favorite top tip. Before you call out the experts or insurer, check the battery on your thermostat. Huge numbers of expensive callouts have been due to this simple but devastating error. It can be a very costly mistake.
Here’s a quick overview of the main issues with boiler cover – and what viewers can do about it.
Boiler insurance has had a troubled reputation for a number of years. Put simply, many policies weren’t great, giving too much leeway to insurers to avoid paying out – or not pinning them down to fast call-out times among other things.
Many complaints about boiler cover related to the ‘hard-sell’ that some businesses used. Some people who rented were persuaded to take it out in error (it’s the landlord’s responsibility to get broken boilers fixed). Others were already covered under their contents insurance policy and were therefore ‘double insured’. Finally, the age of your boiler is also a key factor in being covered, with older models excluded. Aggressive mis-selling of boiler insurance resulted in huge fines for some businesses.
I’ve included home emergency cover in this guide as it’s often cited alongside boiler insurance. Many people take this out thinking it’s a more thorough form of cover (boiler, heating, pipes and other emergencies are all theoretically covered). Policy limitations can have a real impact though with much lower payouts.
By far the most common source of complaint involving boiler cover is the failure of an engineer to turn up, along with delays to repairs. These often run into weeks. If you’ve ever been without hot water or heating for more than 24 hours in Winter, you’ll know how quickly things can degenerate.
The problem here rests on what’s been promised by the insurer. Many policies offered 24-hour call outs or resolutions. Many disputes arose over these ‘promises’. Then there’s the dreaded ‘we need to order the parts’ problems. If you’ve got a relatively common boiler then this really shouldn’t be an issue, so the insurer would need to explain why they hadn’t made provisions for common repairs.
It looks like an insurance contract, the jargon is the same, it may even have been sold as insurance, but a worryingly large number of insurance contracts in the past were actually ‘service contracts’. These superficially similar contracts are an agreement between you and the business. But they’re not insurance or regulated contracts. So if there’s a dispute, you can’t go to the Financial Ombudsman.