Is home emergency cover worth it?

What is home emergency cover and do you need it? We explain everything you need to know

ball breaking window
(Image credit: getty images)

Whether it's a burst pipe or a burglary, when home emergencies happen they're a nuisance at best. At worst, they can force you out of your home. 

Some calamities are more common in the winter, such as burst pipes or boiler breakdown, but others can crop up all year round, as anyone who's suffered a squirrel infestation or smashed window can attest.

But does your home insurance cover you for these unforeseeable mishaps? Should you buy standalone home emergency cover, or simply add it on to your existing policy?

What is home emergency insurance?

Designed to cover misfortunes like burst pipes or boiler breakdown, home emergency cover offers householders access to a 24-hour emergency helpline, meaning they should be able to get hold of approved tradesmen quickly and easily.

Policies will cover the cost of call-out, labour and materials for repairs, and may also offer cover for alternative accommodation if you have to stay elsewhere while repairs are being made.

Do I really need home emergency cover?

"Like most insurance policies, the level of cover you'll receive – and its price – varies from policy to policy," said GoCompare's Ben Wilson

It's important to remember, too, that emergency cover could exclude equipment which hasn't been installed or maintained properly, like boilers.

"The failure of boilers or heating systems is usually only covered when they have been inspected or serviced by a qualified person within the preceding 12 months," said Wilson.

(MORE: Ways to keep your boiler happy)

How much does it cost and what does it include?

You could pay anything from £12 to £265, but most policies offer cover for around £35. The home emergency maximum limit can range from £500 to £4,000, and many have access to a 24-hour claims notification helpline included as standard.

Commonly covered household perils include: 

  • plumbing and drainage problems
  • home security (broken doors or windows) 
  • domestic power supply failure 
  • central heating failure 
  • vermin infestation 
  • removal of wasp and hornet nests.

Always check your terms and conditions to see which home emergencies are covered.

Is home emergency cover included in my home insurance policy?

This can vary from provider to provider. Some may include home emergency cover as part of your contents insurance, while others offer it as an optional extra. 

"If you're considering buying home emergency insurance, the first thing that you should do is to check your existing household insurance policy, which may already provide the cover you need," says Wilson. 

(MORE: How much contents insurance do I need?)