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What is home emergency cover insurance?

If you find yourself knee deep in water or if your boiler suddenly breaks down on the coldest night of the year, you’ll want someone to fix everything pronto and get things back to normal. This is where home emergency cover comes into its own.

What’s the difference between home insurance and home emergency cover?

Home insurance will pay to repair damage caused by a fire, flood, storms or burglary, but it won’t get any immediate problems resolved for you, you have to do that yourself. With emergency home cover, you have help on standby - you simply pick up the phone, ring a 24-hour emergency helpline and, within a few hours, your problem will be fixed by tradespeople sent by your insurer.

Home emergency cover will pay for parts, labour, call out charges and VAT up to an individual claim limit set by your insurer, usually without you having to pay an excess. It may be included as standard or could be offered as an optional extra, but do consider that some insurers may not provide it at all. If it isn’t offered, you may need to get standalone home emergency cover which typically costs around £35[1], but can cost as much as £500[2].

To check if you have it and what’s covered, you’ll need to read through your home insurance policy documents.

Home emergency cover may include different special conditions, depending on your insurer. For instance, your boiler may need to be serviced annually to be covered and, if it breaks down in the summer, you might not be covered as it’s not classed as an emergency. Similarly, dripping taps won’t usually be replaced and you must ensure that you inform your insurer within the first 48 hours of the emergency[3].

This type of insurance is for emergencies only, but you can usually make multiple claims. The amount of time it takes for the tradesperson to arrive will depend on your insurer; for instance, some insurers guarantee they will send someone over within four hours whereas others may take up to 24 hours. 

Home emergency cover usually includes:

  • Central heating failure
  • Domestic power supply failure
  • Faulty and broken locks, doors and windows
  • Roof damage
  • Plumbing and drainage problems
  • The removal of wasp and hornet nests

Depending on your insurer, you may also be covered for appliances and vermin infestation. Some insurers will pay for temporary accommodation, if you’re not able to stay in your home while repairs are being carried out.

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