Saturday, January 16, 2016
We all take our boilers for granted during the summer months. They just sit there in the background, quietly operating away until late autumn arrives and suddenly our homes feel somewhat chillier. So we switch the heating on and prepare for our boilers to leap into action. However, depending on the age of the boiler and how well it has been maintained over the years, some just aren’t prepared for the massive increase in workload and thus they conk out.
A boiler is one of the most expensive items in a family home. Replacing it typically runs into the thousands so it stands to reason that households need to have a plan for that inevitable day when the boiler fails and there’s no hot water or radiators.
Several companies, such as British Gas, nPower, Scottish Power and HomeServe, offer boiler insurance. This type of cover usually gives homeowners access to engineers to repair the boiler in an emergency, as well as an annual boiler service. The cost of boiler cover ranges from around £4.30 per month to £12.50 per month. The companies offering cover at the lower end of the price scale often come with an excess charge of roughly £50, whilst those with a more expensive monthly payment usually have no excess fee.
Boiler insurance gives excellent peace of mind that you’ll have cover in an emergency and the monthly cost seems quite small in comparison to the thousands you’ll have to pay out for a replacement model. However, the problem with boilers is that it’s incredibly hard to estimate when they are finally going to need to be substituted. Therefore if you don’t actually need to replace or even fix your boiler until several years have passed, then actually the monthly payment for boiler insurance can quickly add up to hundreds of pounds wasted.
Read The Terms And Conditions Carefully
It’s also really important to know what you’re signing up for when you take out boiler insurance, so read the small print carefully. First things first, it is absolutely vital that you declare the make and model of your boiler accurately as you may find that some older boilers will not be covered for boiler repairs. This is because the insurance company realises there’s a reasonable likelihood that it’s going to cost them more than it will cost you. You should also be clear about the callout hours of the insurer’s engineers - ideally you should be able to get hold of someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
It’s worth checking your existing home insurance policy, as some insurers include emergency callout services as part of their cover, so make sure you don’t needlessly take out additional boiler cover.
An alternative option to dealing with the big companies is to cover your own back by self-insuring your boiler. This means taking some responsibility for looking after your heating system. There is some risk involved, as if your boiler goes wrong then you’ll need to pay an engineer to fix it.
If you choose to self-insure then it is imperative that you have an annual boiler service carried out by a registered gas engineer. This will ensure that your boiler is running efficiently and safely. The cost of such a service is approximately £60 per year.
In reality, so long as you put in the effort to look after your boiler and heating system, then it is more practical and cost-effective to know a reputable and registered gas engineer who can assist you over the long term than to take out boiler cover which you’ll rarely use.
Time for some maths. If you pay £10 a month for 24/7 emergency cover, this amount to £600 over five years. Boiler repairs can often be carried out for less than this and it is rare that a new boiler will experience major problems in the first five years or service. If a boiler needs replacing, it will cost from £1800, and emergency cover never replaces a boiler, it will only attempt a repair, often with a cap of £100 on parts.
In the long run it is better to have a good relationship with a local, qualified heating engineer, who will usually be able to attend to emergency repairs within a day if they are needed.
Stephen Turner is the Director of Aquatek Domestic & Commercial Plumbing & Heating Ltd, and believes that making use of Internet technology is essential for business success, regardless of the industry.