Winter is coming: is your boiler ship-shape?

ALDIUM Insurance

It’s Christmas day, and you wake up to open your presents. Brrr! It’s cold! You go to put the boiler on, only to realise that it’s not working. What do you do? Probably panic. You can avoid this worst-case-scenario by getting your boiler checked before winter is in full swing. Although you can’t guarantee your boiler won’t pack it in, giving it a clean bill of health before the temperature drops is a good way to decrease the chance something will go wrong.

Should you get boiler cover?
According to a survey by uSwitch, only 36% of people have boiler insurance, but as many as one-fifth have had their boiler break down. Boilers are often one of the most expensive items in the home, and boiler cover usually includes an annual service and engineers to repair your central heating in an emergency. Not having insurance can cost you dearly if something goes wrong.

Get your boiler serviced
Right before winter sets in is a good time to get your boiler looked at to check it’s in good shape. Many policies include a yearly check-up to make sure your boiler is ready for winter. Paying an engineer to come and visit your property for repairs can be costly in itself, without even including the replacement parts.

Check expiry dates
Talking of boiler insurance, if you do have a policy, when does it expire? While it might automatically renew, it could be worth pencilling something in the diary a month before it expires each year. Does your boiler have a warranty? Could you get this extended? Your particular manufacturer or installer might have included a warranty so it’s important to keep the original paperwork. Installations within the last 12 months are likely to still be covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. If something goes wrong due to a faulty part within the first year, a warranty could mean you receive the replacement part for free.

Small print
If something does happen and your insurance company says they won’t cover it, then there are some steps you can take. You can escalate this to the Financial Ombudsman Service and if your case isn’t resolved within eight weeks, you get a free independent assessment. It’s worth noting that a service agreement is not insurance and it’s less easy to independently challenge.

Home emergency cover
If you have home emergency cover on your home insurance then your boiler might already be covered, so it’s important to check your cover. However, if your boiler did fail and the winter weather hadn’t yet set in, then the ‘emergency part’ wouldn’t apply, meaning you wouldn’t be covered.

Make sure it’s worth it
Two-thirds of policyholders never claim, according to figures by consumer watchdog Which?, meaning it could cost you more than it’s worth to insure.

British householders are spending an incredible £1 billion on central heating insurance, according to figures by The Mail on Sunday, so it’s important to weigh up if you think it will be financially viable for you personally. Typically, boiler repairs can cost anywhere between £150 and £300, and if a replacement boiler is needed then you could have to fork out between £1,500 and £4,000. If you think coming up with a sudden lump sum for boiler repairs would be difficult for you, then boiler insurance could help give you peace of mind.

Find the best supplier
It’s not just a good time to think about boiler insurance, it’s a good time to consider energy in general. Winter is the time of year where you use the most gas and electricity, so it’s a great time to do an internal audit of your yearly energy bills and consider switching suppliers in order to find a better rate. Don’t forget that you can set up a fixed-rate tariff that might save you money in the long-term.

You can use money comparison websites to help you get the best deal on your energy. Make sure that you check reviews, too, to get an accurate picture of service alongside an idea of price. Why not ask friends and family about their experiences, too?

Winter is coming. Make sure you consider the health of your boiler before the temperature drops.