Homecall+, one of the UK’s biggest emergency insurance firms, has today gone bust – leaving some homeowners and landlords without cover for problems with their plumbing, heating, drains and electricity.
Homecall+ offered insurance-backed warranties to policyholders, who typically paid between £150 and £200 a year for emergency cover.
Without this insurance, some people who previously relied on calling out a Homecare+ engineer or repairer at no cost when things went wrong will have to shell out for a contractor if they need one.
Help for Homecall+ customers
Should you have to pay for an emergency repair unexpectedly because your Homecall+ policy is no longer active, you may later be able to make a Section 75 or chargeback claim for the cost of the repair.
Alternatively, you may be able to get your money back from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), as Homecall+ was regulated by the Financial Services Authority. The FSCS is yet to confirm this, however.
Up until December 2010, Homecall+ products were underwritten by Brit Insurance, and the firm has states that around 10,000 customers who bought cover during this period will have their policies honoured. If you need to make a claim under your Homecall+ policy, contact Brit Insurance directly.
However, there is concern that no new underwriter replaced Brit Insurance as underwriter once it abandoned Homecall+ – potentially rendering worthless any policies sold to consumers after 3 December last year.
If you are a Homecall+ customer and fall into this category, you may be able to claim back your premiums. If you paid by credit or debit card for your cover, you could try putting in a Section 75 or Chargeback claim. In addition, it is possible that you will be able to claim for any emergency work you’ve had to pay for which should have been covered by Homecall+. You’ll need to keep and submit receipts for any such work and will need to prove that the insurer has entered administration.
Emergency insurance: is it worth it?
Emergency insurance policies are widely available from the likes of British Gas, the AA, Aviva, Direct Line and Homeserve. For some people, they offer peace of mind that is worth paying for – but when Which? reviewed home emergency insurance last winter, we weren’t convinced that these policies are good value for money.
Which? money expert Ian Robinson says: ‘Some standard home insurance policies include emergency cover, so you should check whether the level of protection provided is enough for you.
‘If so, you don’t need to buy additional cover. And if not, you may want to compare the cost of a home emergency policy from a specialist provider with any emergency cover ‘add-ons’ that your existing home insurance provider might offer.
‘The other thing to remember is that home emergency insurance can be expensive. We found that premiums range from around £125 to £324 a year – and you have to consider whether you’re prepared to pay that for cover which, if you’re lucky, you may never claim on.
‘’Self-insuring’ is an option that appeals to a lot of people – and this simply involves putting money aside for use in emergency situations. However, if you do decide to go for some sort of home emergency cover, always be sure to check the terms and conditions carefully, taking note of any exclusions so you aren’t unexpectedly left out of pocket later on.’
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