Home emergency policies cover callouts to fix essential parts of your home such as the electrics, boiler or plumbing if something goes wrong.
It's possible to get standalone emergency policies but many home insurers also offer them as add-ons or part of their policy as standard.
We've looked at some of the best home emergency policies on the market.
Home insurance with a home emergency cover add-on - rated by callout limit
Barclays - Home Insurance (£2,500 limit)
Saga Home, Saga Essential and Tailormade (£2,000 limit)
John Lewis Finance - Home Insurance (£1,500 limit)
Age Co (formerly Age UK) - Home Insurance (£1,500 limit)
M&S - Standard and Premium (£1,250 limit)
RIAS - Home Insurance (£1,000 limit)
Tesco - Home Insurance (£1,000 limit))
More Than- Home Buildings Cover (£1,000 limit)
Aviva - Home Insurance (£1,000 limit)
We created this list by ranking the insurers in our list of the best home insurance policies by their limits for home emergency callouts. You can get home emergency from these companies as an add-on.
The best standalone home emergency policies as rated by Defaqto:
DAS - Home emergency
ARAG - Home emergency solutions
HomeServe – Cover 8
Best Price Financial Services - Home mergency cover
British Gas - HomeCare Three & Four
Home emergency assist - Complete cover
We selected the above providers based on the comprehensiveness of their policies and their 5 star ratings on Defaqto.
However, there are lots of other providers that offer standalone home emrgency cover even if they were not awarded 5 star ratings from Defaqto.
Here are some of them:
A+ Insurance - Home emergency, 24/7 Home Rescue - Home emergency, Surewise - Home emrgency cover, CoverCloud - Home emergency protect, Esure - Home emeregncy cover, Lloyds - Home emergency, Halifax - Home emergency cover, AA - Boiler and home cover & Standard boiler cover, Swinton - Landlord emergency cover.
What is home emergency cover?
Companies have different names for it. For example, British Gas calls it HomeCare and the AA sells it as boiler cover and home cover. Most insurers describe it as home emergency cover, or something similar.
It is designed to keep your home running in the event of unexpected breakdowns, so it can cover the cost of callouts for problems with your boiler, central heating, plumbing, electrics or vermin infestations.
Some policies include an annual boiler service and others have limits on callout times and materials they will pay for.
Insurers tend not to class a home emergency callout as a claim so you will not have to pay an excess and your premium will not increase when at renewal.
Do I need it?
The policy itself can be very useful; it means common emergencies such as burst pipes are covered, you won’t have to find an engineer at short notice because the company you are paying will arrange a callout and it won’t affect your home insurance no claims bonus.
There may be elements of the service that you already have cover for. Home insurance will pay out for many emergencies but you may end up paying more in the long term if a callout causes your premium to rise. But you’ll see in the next section that some insurers offer home emergency cover as part of their policies.
Some emergencies might not cost much to repair, so you could save each month to make sure you’ve got a safety fund. And some utility firms will fix certain issues for free.
A better question might be, is it worth it?
In general, questions about value are much more subjective, however, the next sections aim to highlight the things you should think about when considering policies.
How to get it for free
The best way to get a free home emergency policy is through a home insurer. Many offer it as an add-on that costs more but there are a handful that offer comprehensive emergency callout services as standard.
One of them is Together Mutual. Its home insurance and emergency cover have been rated as 4 Star services out of 5 by independent financial researcher Defaqto.
A Star Rating indicates where a product or proposition sits in the market based on the quality and comprehensiveness of the features it offers.
A Together Mutual home emergency claim does not affect the no claims bonus.
There’s a 24/7 helpline and Together Mutual will cover the costs of the callout, labour and up to £100 or parts. There’s a £1,000 annual limit on callouts but it says only 5% of cases go over the limit.
All boilers under 15 years old are covered as long as they’ve been serviced. Once it’s been serviced it will be covered again, even if you had a callout before.
Together Mutual quotes annual premiums of £160.86 (Premium policy) or £260.69 (Premier Plus policy) for a two-bed semi-detached house in Milton Keynes. Both include home emergency.
For the same type of property M&S’s cheapest policy, with slightly less cover than Together Mutual, is £295.38 with a 5 Star home emergency add-on. Aviva’s cheapest buildings only policy with home emergency cover is £213.96 a year.
We believe people deserve fairer insurance premiums so we've created groups that consumers can join for free. We then use your combined buying power to negotiate better and often cheaper deals with insurers.
Is there a difference between standalone home emergency policies and those offered by home insurers?
In general, standalone home emergency policies, such as British Gas’s HomeCare, are very similar to those offered by insurers. Some insurance emergency schemes even offer more cover, for example, for problems with your roof or dealing with vermin.
But the main difference can be whether the policy offers an annual boiler service. Insurers don’t tend to include this but it’s worth taking a look at the economics.
British Gas’s cheapest HomeCare product costs £12 a month and includes a boiler service and boiler emergency cover.
A boiler service from a local specialist should cost you between £75 and £100.
To get a similar level of cover to Together Mutual from British Gas you’d have to pay more than £17 a month or £212.40 a year. That does include a boiler service.
If you take Together Mutual’s Milton Keynes quotes and add £100 for a boiler service you’d be paying either £260.86 or £360.69 a year at most, depending on your policy, for comprehensive buildings and contents insurance, home emergency cover and a boiler check. As opposed to British Gas’s £212.40 for just emergency cover and a boiler check.
There are no rules on how often you should have a boiler service, but most companies say it should be done once a year.
Why do people say it’s a scam?
A business called Homeserve was handed a record £30.6m fine in 2014 partly for mis-selling home emergency cover to those who did not need it.
For some people, it is not good value, especially if they have an insurance home emergency service. But for others it is worth considering, for example, if you’re a landlord and not using an agency.
As a freebie, it can be a convenient way of dealing with unexpected problems and save you money on callouts. Be aware of any companies giving you the hard sell on individual home emergency cover with a monthly fee.
Many big companies do offer it: Lloyds Premier account holders have access to it through AA, and HSBC, Saga, Halifax and M&S all offer it as an optional extra.