How to Choose the Best Boiler Cover
By Anna Studman
How to Choose the Best Boiler Cover
If you want to know how to choose the best boiler serving cover, or whether you need cover at all, then we can help.
We've surveyed thousands of boiler cover customers about the provider they use, so we can tell you which brands boiler owners recommend.
If you have boiler cover and your boiler breaks down, the contract provider will send an engineer to assess the problem and try to fix it. If you sign up for a boiler-servicing contract, you'll pay a monthly fee for this peace of mind. Most providers aim to fix a boiler within 24 hours of a call.
But not all boiler cover providers are the same. In our survey, the best boiler cover company received an impressive customer score of 79%. The worst brand scored just 39%. So if you're looking for good customer service and a speedy repair response time, it's important to pick your boiler cover provider carefully.
Boiler cover: is it worth getting?
Which? research shows that paying for boiler cover is financially worth it for only 3% of you, because the likelihood of needing an expensive repair is so low. Still, knowing you’re saving money won’t keep you warm if you have to wait for a repair.
Having your boiler break down can be a nightmare, and boiler-servicing contracts 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 £242 a 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 £194. 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.
The average number of repairs was 1.6 for anyone who had bought or acquired their boiler in the past six years. 21% 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.
Cutting costs on boiler cover
You can cut costs by choosing a policy carefully. 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.
What are the different types of boiler cover?
Many boiler breakdown and servicing contracts offer an array of extra options, such as repairs for central heating, plumbing and drains. Some even cover your electrical wiring.
In general, the more cover you have, the higher your monthly fee.
If you’ve got a relatively new boiler, you could probably get away with a basic boiler-emergency policy, which costs about £61 a year, on average, but doesn’t include an annual service (average cost is £75). If you’ve got quite an old boiler, it’s worth getting a policy with an unlimited claim cost.
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.
The best and worst boiler cover brands
We asked thousands of 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 providers varies widely. While the top scoring company received five stars for customer service, it was the only one, and many companies only received a middling three. On value for money, two stars out of five were common.
Find out how each brand scored, and what boiler owners really thought about their boiler cover providers, by checking our boiler cover reviews.
Boiler cover in Northern Ireland
If you live in Northern Ireland, you'll need to know which policies are available to you. Of the nine companies we've compared in our latest customer satisfaction survey, AA, Domestic & General, Homeserve, Vaillant and Worcester Bosch all offer cover in Northern Ireland.
Should I have an annual boiler service?
Yes. An annual service helps to keep your boiler running safely and efficiently. We recommend you get one whether you take boiler breakdown cover or not. Regular checks help ensure your boiler is working safely 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. At Which?, we only review and publish contracts that offer an annual service and recommend choosing a boiler cover contract that includes an annual service or maintenance inspection.
However, getting a service you can trust is essential. In a recent 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 in our guide to getting the best boiler service.
How much will boiler breakdown cover cost me?
On average, you'll pay around £242 a year for boiler cover that includes an annual service.
If you just want basic emergency call-out cover, but where parts and repairs are not covered, it will cost you £61, on average.
A more comprehensive cover, which includes boiler breakdown/emergency cover for all problems, as well as other home emergencies (such as pests or electrical failure), will cost nearer £330, on average.
Prices 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?
Try not to be drawn in by 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.
Most of the providers we asked did not give us specific details on whether the cost of boiler cover jumped in the second year of the contract, saying only that costs would be reevaluated at the end of the fixed-price period. One provider did tell us that the price of one of its policies goes up by £120 in the second year – and it can’t be the only one.
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 factor a low use or no-claims discount into the renewal price.
Where possible, we publish only the cost of the second year of cover and recommend that you always ask the provider what the cost of its contract is beyond the first 12 months.
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 is not covered by any of the companies we feature and would require a full system flush, which can cost more than £400. Check your policy for the following exclusions:
- Boiler age - if you have quite an old boiler (meaning older than seven to ten years) you may find 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
- Call-outs - if your boiler breaks down twice in a year, some policies won’t cover you for more than this. Choose a policy that has unlimited call-outs and preferably doesn’t limit the amount the provider will cover.