How to choose the best boiler cover
By Sarah Ingrams
How to choose the best boiler cover
We 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. If you have a boiler-servicing contract, it will include an annual boiler service to make sure your system is in good working order.
But not all boiler cover providers are the same. We surveyed thousands* of people who have boiler cover. In our survey, the best boiler cover company received an impressive customer score of 86%. The worst brand scored just 56%.
So if you're looking for good customer service, a speedy repair response time and good value for money, it's important to pick your boiler cover provider carefully.
Keep reading for all you need to know about boiler cover, or jump straight to the relevant section below:
- Is boiler cover worth buying?
- How much does boiler cover cost?
- Types of boiler cover
- How to get cheap boiler cover
- Best and worst boiler cover brands
- Boiler cover in Northern Ireland
- Should I have an annual boiler service?
- How much does boiler breakdown cover cost?
- Is there anything I should watch out for?
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 need to pay for a boiler repair once in three and a half years, on average, according to a separate survey of over 12,000 boiler owners. It’ll cost around £155 to £205.
So if you pay for an annual service (scroll down to find out why we recommend this), costing £81 on average, and put aside money each month for repairs, you could save around £227 over three years.
You could save around £227 over three years if you don't get boiler cover
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.
*(Survey: 12,191 boiler owners, April and May 2018.)
Still, knowing you’re saving money won’t keep you warm if you have to wait for a repair if your boiler breaks and it’s freezing cold outside.
With that in mind, a boiler-servicing contract might seem like a good way to guarantee you’ll never have to shiver in an unheated home and brave cold showers.
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.
Keep in mind that this is still more than the average cost of a boiler repair, which is between £155 and £205. 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.
You can cut the cost of expensive repairs by making sure you buy a boiler from a reliable brand. You can find out which are the most and least reliable - go to the best boiler brands.
There’s a wide range of different 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 (average cost is £81).
Those in our survey paid between £225 and £250 per year for a boiler cover package, including annual service.
A quarter of those in our survey have a boiler that’s more than 10 years old. Half of the firms’ policies we looked at set maximum ages for boilers on their policies, sometimes 10 years.
So if you have an older boiler, check carefully in our boiler servicing contracts reviews if a provider will cover you.
It’s also 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..
1. Choose the right 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*, 46 of them 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 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 provider
Loyalty doesn’t pay, our survey revealed. 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.
*(Research: July 2018.)
We asked more than 2,000 boiler cover owners about their experiences with their boiler-servicing 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.
Many companies only received a middling three stars for value for money. Two companies received three-star ratings across the board.
|Boiler servicing contract brands|
|Provider||Overall customer service||Repair response time||Value for money||Customer score|
|Local independent (144)|
|Worcester Bosch (91)|
|British Gas (1,437)|
|Domestic & General (100)|
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. You can use these to find out about the types of boiler servicing packages they offer and compare them against other firms.
Find out more detail about how each brand scored, and what boiler owners really thought about their boiler cover providers, in our full boiler cover reviews.
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:
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.
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 in your cover, so their contracts can seem cheaper.
Some providers don't include an annual service as part of your cover, so their contracts can seem cheaper.
We recommend choosing a boiler cover contract that includes an annual service or maintenance inspection. At Which?, we only review and publish information about contracts that offer an annual service.
However, getting a service you can trust is essential. In a previous investigation, we found that seven out of ten providers failed to meet the minimum requirements for completing a boiler service.
You can find out more about our undercover boiler servicing investigation and download our free annual boiler service checklist - go to getting the best boiler service.
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.
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.
So 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.
*(Survey details: we surveyed 2,530 Which? members with boiler cover in May 2018.