Should you insure your boiler?

With energy costs rising, families will be looking everywhere for ways to try to save money.

One thing you could cut is boiler insurance, argues Charlie Mullins, managing director of Pimlico Plumbers. "If you want to fill the bank account of a multinational insurance company then take out a policy, but if you want your boiler fixed call a plumber," he says.

However, Kevin Spears, energy expert for, disagrees. "Risking the winter without cover could leave you strapped for cash if your boiler does pack up and you haven't got any savings," he says.

Compare home insurance quotes from more than 80 insurers

False economy?

Last year, a fifth of UK households had a boiler breakdown over the winter, at an average cost of £320, according to The average boiler insurance policy costs around £100 a year, so it seems the cover could be a money-saver. But what are the catches?

What's included varies depending on which policy you opt for. Most cover boiler repairs, parts and labour; unlimited cover and claims throughout the year; and annual inspections to make sure your boiler is working properly.

You can also take out insurance that will cover your entire central heating system, including radiators and pipes, but this will cost you more.

However, whichever policy you choose, they tend to be riddled with exclusions. For example, you may only be covered up to a certain cost, or for the first few hours of labour. And most policies don't cover boilers more than 15 years old, while those over seven will require an inspection first.


Some policies also require you to pay an excess (usually around £50) when you claim. Most boiler and central heating plans will provide a 24-hour, 365-day helpline to deal with urgent problems - but the definition of 'urgent' varies between providers.

A boiler exploding and water gushing down your walls may be enough for a plumber to be called out instantly, but your hot water not working for a few hours might not.

It's usually a case of getting what you pay for - the more you pay for your policy, the more protection you'll get.

One of the best comes from npower and costs £15.50 a month for the first year, which covers you for an annual service and safety check, unlimited call-outs and all repairs, and gives you access to a 24-hour helpline. 

Check your home insurance first

Before you take out a policy, check whether your boiler is already covered under your home insurance.

Legal & General's home policy includes emergency cover, which covers common problems such as your boiler breaking down or a burst pipe. But this is just for emergencies and exclusions apply - your boiler can't be more than eight years old and it will only be covered between September and April.

The amount paid out is also capped at £150 - less than you would get with separate boiler insurance. Alternatively, some providers let you buy emergency cover on top of your normal home insurance - usually cheaper than standalone boiler cover.

Going it alone

The likelihood of your boiler breaking down is mainly to do with how old it is and what condition it's in.

If you decide to go down the self-pay route, make sure your boiler is serviced on a regular basis, and any problems are fixed before they get bigger. Nicholas Brown, a technical engineer for British Gas, says it costs on average £62 for an annual service.

So find yourself a reliable plumber who will keep your boiler in good nick. Ask for recommendations and always check that they are Gas Safe registered (this has replaced CORGI, the watchdog for gas safety).

If you opt not to have boiler insurance, you need to be prepared to cough up if your boiler does fail. A good way to keep maintenance costs down is to get your timing right - for instance, schedule in a service during the summer, when it will be cheaper.

Your Comments

On the basis of 20% of boilers breaking down last year, a boiler will have a breakdown every 5 years so you'll be paying the insurance company £500 + £50 excess (possibly) for a £320 repair.  Doesn't sound like value for money to me unless the failure requires a complete replacement!

Our boiler ran reliably for 7 years before it started having problems. After 2 years of paying for it to be repaired, plus the changing basis of the cost of the repair (regardless of what the fault actually was) rising to £260, it became clear that insurance was going to be much cheaper.
We insured it for £18 per month and it included absolutely everything (parts and labour plus unlimited number of claims with no excess) and an annual service.
At 15 years (this year) we changed the boiler for a more modern one that promises to use about £340 less gas per annum but obviously we don't need insurance for the first year as it's under warranty. 
After a year we will have to decide what to do. In my view we would pay for an annual service and not have the insurance until it starts to exhibit faults and hope that that would be at least 7 years too.

"One of the best comes from npower and costs £15.50 a month for the first year,"
But what it doesn't say is that they will charge you £19 per month AFTER the first year.

Npower is one of those many companies run by idiots who will rip off a loyal customer by charging MORE for staying with them.

I do my best to avoid those companies, but it isn't possible to avoid them competely. So we all need to change supplier (of whatever) each year to get the best price. But surely an honest company who will give loyal customers the same deal as they will give a new customer will save on admin, and above all, keep their profitable revenue stream.

Or there is British Gas currently £33 per month for my 11 year old boiler that has given up once in those eleven years! I'll do some shopping around.

Hi Hesperus
You should definitely do some shopping around.
My boiler is 22 years old and has never let us down. The only trouble we had was one of the [external to the boiler] pumps packed in about 10/11 years ago and needed replaced and inside the house the control panel/timer had a heart attack and also had to be replaced.
The thing is our maintenance contract with BG is only £19.77per month. - this includes a yearly service visit to check the boiler.

I serviced my own central heating for nearly 30 years! That meant replacing and servicing all the component parts on the system. The boiler itself, never failed in all that time nor was it serviced.I did call in a plumber once to change the cold water tank and he complimented me on the quality of my plumbing which must be a record. 
Two years ago, I had my central heating replaced as it was old and inefficient and someone made me a good offer! (Free under the Warm Start scheme) I shall continue to maintain it myself knowing when to call in an expert but should an emergency arise, I do have emergency cover on my house insurance which has never let me down before.

I learned the hard way that it's way more expensive if you don't get your boiler covered/insured! Esp. if you're unlucky enough to find your boiler going pop during winter :( and you end up with a very expensive repair bill!
Suffice to say I used to use gritish bass I knew they charge a lot but I felt I had no viable option. I hear what Jeffery said about npowr charging more after the 1st year ... that's bad! Lucky me then when I found a good reliable boiler cover package that's less than I expected - and the price don't change every year either (phew!). I'm using a firm called stl heating - and have had no probs I added the link to help