How to choose the best boiler cover
We've surveyed 1,123 boiler breakdown cover customers about their supplier's customer service, response times and value for money, 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. Boiler cover often includes an annual service.
Boiler cover can be pricey and, for most people, paying as you go for services and repairs instead is likely to work out cheaper. But having a dedicated policy can offer peace of mind that you'll be covered if your boiler conks out in the depths of winter.
Types of boiler cover
What's included in boiler breakdown and servicing contracts varies.
Some policies cover just your boiler; others also include repairs for central heating, plumbing and drains. Some may even cover your electrical wiring or pest control in your home.
Can I get cover for an older boiler?
Some policies set maximum ages for boilers they will allow you to take out cover for – usually 15 years – so if you have a very old boiler you may need to shop around for cover. Our boiler cover reviews include this information in the tech specs.
Some policies may also limit how much they'll pay towards repairs. It’s worth choosing a policy with an unlimited claim cost, which will also replace your boiler (or pay some money towards a replacement) if it’s beyond economic repair.
How much does boiler cover cost?
Those in our August 2020 survey of Which? members paid, on average, £288 a year for a boiler cover package. In general, the more your cover includes, the more you’ll pay for it.
While boiler cover may offer piece of mind that you won't have to shell out a fortune if your boiler breaks down, in reality the likelihood of needing a very expensive repair is low. We've calculated that paying for boiler cover is financially worthwhile for just 6% of people on average.
This is based on the proportion of those we surveyed whose combined boiler repair cost plus annual boiler service cost (based on an average boiler servicing price of £80) exceeded the average annual boiler cover cost of £288 over the past year.
The majority of people (66%) told us that they buy boiler cover for peace of mind. Just 4% have boiler cover because their boiler is unreliable or keeps breaking.
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 over a boiler's lifetime. Overall, 35% of survey respondents have never had to call out an engineer to fix their boiler.
How to get cheap boiler cover
1. Don't pay for more cover than you need
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.
If your home has central heating, you may want to include this as part of 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, pipes and drainage.
2. Pay for your boiler cover annually
If you can afford to, paying up front for a year’s boiler cover may save you money compared with spreading the cost in monthly payments across the year.
For instance, British Gas offer a £12 discount for customers paying their premium annually by direct debit.
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 £300 a year.
But those who switched provider paid almost £72 less – £228 per year.
If you are happy with your provider but not the price, try haggling. It may be willing to reduce the premium to keep your custom.
Best and worst boiler cover brands
We asked 1,123 boiler cover customers about their experiences with their boiler cover contract provider to give customer satisfaction ratings for British Gas, Corgi, Domestic & General and HomeServe.
Vaillant and Worcester Bosch also offer boiler cover for boiler brands they make. We didn't get enough customer feedback to rate these brands, but you can find out more about their policies in our and Worcester Bosch boiler cover First Looks.
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 or not you take boiler breakdown cover. 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.
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, 43% of boiler cover owners we asked said that when they renewed the same policy with the same provider, the price increased. Before choosing a provider, check what the cost of its contract is beyond the first 12 months, or after any introductory discount has finished.
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.
While boiler breakdown cover may give you peace of mind, you should also bear in mind that some things may not 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 15 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.
- Cost limit – if your boiler breaks and you need costly repairs, a policy with no limit on repair costs would be best. Some have a limit of £1,500 a year, while others are unlimited.