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How to choose the best boiler cover

By Sarah Ingrams

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How to choose the best boiler cover

Our experts can help you choose choose the best boiler servicing cover, or decide whether you need boiler cover at all.

We've surveyed thousands of boiler cover customers about the provider they use, so we can tell you which brands boiler owners recommend.

Paying for boiler cover means that if your boiler breaks down, the contract provider will send an engineer to assess the problem and try to fix it. A boiler-servicing contract includes an annual boiler service. But not all boiler cover providers are equal. 

See our boiler cover reviews to find out which package is right for you.

In this article:

Types of boiler cover 

There’s a wide range of options boiler breakdown and servicing contracts can include, such as repairs for central heating, plumbing and drains. Some even cover your electrical wiring or pests in your home. In general, the more your cover includes, the more you’ll pay for it.

If you’ve got a relatively new boiler, you could probably get away with a basic boiler-emergency policy. This will cost you about £110 a year, on average, but doesn’t include an annual service (typical cost is £81).

Those in our member survey paid between £225 and £250 per year for a boiler cover package, including annual service.

Can I get cover for an older boiler?

A quarter of those in our survey have a boiler that’s more than 10 years old. Half of the firms’ policies that we looked at set maximum ages for boilers on their policies, sometimes 10 years.

It’s worth choosing a policy with an unlimited claim cost, that will also replace your boiler (or pay some money towards a replacement) if it’s beyond economic repair.

To see how we rate boiler companies including British Gas, Homeserve and SSE, see our boiler cover reviews.

How much does boiler cover cost? 

Paying for boiler cover is financially worthwhile for just 4.5% of people on average. That’s because the likelihood of needing an expensive repair is low.

You’ll typically need to pay for a boiler repair once in three and a half years, according to a separate survey of over 12,000 boiler owners. It’ll cost around £155 to £205. If you pay for an annual service, costing £81 on average, and put aside money each month for repairs, you could save around £227 over three years.

The majority of people (seven in 10) told us that they buy boiler cover for peace of mind. Just 3% have boiler cover because their boiler is unreliable or keeps breaking.

The average cost of a boiler-servicing contract is between £225 and £250 per year. You shouldn’t be paying more than this. The exception to this rule is if your policy covers a wide range of other home emergencies, such as pests or electrical failure.

Based on our survey respondents’ experiences, if you’re unlucky enough to have to pay for a repair, you’re likely to only need to do so once or twice. Overall, 18% of survey respondents needed a boiler repair.

How to get cheap boiler cover 

1. Choose the right boiler cover policy for you

You can cut costs by choosing carefully the best policy for you. The average cost of boiler cover varies widely depending on the type of policy you get – so think about what would most suit you and your household.

Choosing the right policy for you depends on your circumstances. If your boiler heats both your water and your house, you may want to include central heating with your cover - this will include protection for your radiators.

But look out for any superfluous extras in your policy. For example, things already covered in your existing home insurance, such as electrical problems, and pipes and drainage.

When we checked 56 home insurance packages in 2018, 46 of them (82%) included basic boiler emergency cover as standard. You could add it as an optional extra to a further seven.

So it’s worth checking there’s no overlap if you pay for separate boiler cover.

2. Pay for your boiler annually

If you can afford to, paying upfront for a year’s boiler servicing contract will save you money compared with spreading the cost in monthly payments across the year.

Those who paid annually spent between £175 and £185. Those who paid monthly spent a total of between £290 and £300.

3. Switch boiler provider

Loyalty doesn’t pay, according to our survey. Customers who renewed the same policy with the same provider last time it expired paid between £265 and £275 per year.

But those who switched provider paid at least £50 less – between £175 and £215 per year.

Best and worst boiler cover brands 

We asked more than 2,000 boiler cover owners about their experiences with their boiler cover contract provider. It’s clear from our survey that customers’ opinions of their boiler cover provider varies widely.

While the top scorer received the maximum five stars out of five across all measures, including customer service, value for money and how easy they are to contact for a repair, it was the only one to do so.

Which? members can log in to see the full results in the table below. Not yet a member? Join Which? to get access to our results, below, and all of our online reviews.

Boiler servicing contract brands
Provider Overall customer service Repair response time Value for money Customer score
Local independent (144) Subscriber only content Subscriber only content Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
Worcester Bosch (91) Subscriber only content Subscriber only content Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
British Gas (1,437) Subscriber only content Subscriber only content Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
Corgi (93) Subscriber only content Subscriber only content Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
Domestic & General (100) Subscriber only content Subscriber only content Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
SSE (45) Subscriber only content Subscriber only content Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
Homeserve (115) Subscriber only content Subscriber only content Subscriber only content Subscriber only content
Table notes
Based on an online survey in July 2018 of 2,530 Which? members who pay for a  boiler servicing contract. Sample size is in brackets Star ratings can range from one to five – the more stars the better. Customer score is based on a combination of overall satisfaction and how likely people are to recommend the brand to a friend. It doesn’t factor in the individual star ratings.
We also have first-look review of Vaillant and Scottish Power boiler servicing contracts, even though we didn’t get enough customer feedback to rate them.

Boiler cover companies compared 

British Gas

As the UK's largest domestic energy provider, British Gas sells boilers, smart-home products and HomeCare insurance, which covers boilers. 

Worcester Bosch

British manufacturer Worcester Bosch has been selling boilers since 1962, offering up four types of combi boiler for heat and hot water. It also offers boiler cover but only for the systems in its own range. 

Homeserve

This is another one of the UK's leading home assistance providers, covering plumbing, drainage, electrics and heating.

See our boiler cover reviews to see how these three companies perform.

Boiler cover in Northern Ireland 

Not all companies offer policies if you live in Northern Ireland.

Of the six companies we've compared in our latest customer satisfaction survey, these companies all do:

Should I have an annual boiler service? 

Yes. An annual service is essential for keeping your boiler running efficiently and safely. We recommend you get one whether you take boiler breakdown cover or not. At Which?, we only review and publish information about contracts that offer an annual service.

Regular checks help ensure your boiler is working properly and may even help prolong its life. Many providers will only cover you if you have an annual service. Some providers don't include an annual service as part of your cover, so their contracts can seem cheaper.

How much does boiler breakdown cover cost? 

On average, it will cost you per year:

Prices can vary depending on where you live, and whether you agree to pay in monthly installments or as a lump sum.

Is there anything I should watch out for? 

Take note of attractive introductory prices. We've come across boiler cover companies that quote only the cost of the first year of cover, and then hike up their prices in the second year.

In fact, nearly six in ten (57%) of boiler cover owners we asked said that when they renewed the same policy with the same provider, their price increased. Those who stayed with the same provider and policy paid between £265 and £275 per year on average, while those who switched provider paid between £175 and £185 on average.

Keep an eye on your bill when it comes to renewal time, and don’t be afraid to haggle or shop around. Some providers may be able to offer you a price as if you were a new customer.

Before choosing a provider, check what the cost of its contract is beyond the first 12 months, or after any introductory discount has finished.

While boiler breakdown cover may provide you with peace of mind, you should also bear in mind that not everything will be covered by a boiler-servicing contract. A typical example is where sludge build-up occurs in your boiler. This would require a full system flush (which can cost more than £400), but not all of the companies we feature cover the cost of this in their policies.

Boiler policy exclusions you need to know about

  • Boiler age - if you have quite an old boiler (meaning older than seven to ten years), not all providers will accept you as a new customer
  • Boiler life - existing customers should also be wary. Some providers won’t renew the cover if your boiler reaches a certain age. While you might be able to switch to another provider, the older your boiler, the more likely you’ll need cover
  • Cost-limit - if your boiler breaks and you need costly repairs, a policy with on limit on repair costs would be best. Some have a limit of £1,500 per year, while others are unlimited.

To keep repair costs to a minimum, choose one of the best boiler brands, as rated by heating engineers.

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