/ Home & Energy, Money

Home emergency! Insurance exclusions could leave you stuck

Red telephone with blue flashing light

Home emergency insurance provides peace of mind for those afraid of being left high and dry. Yet our research found a range of policies which had a whole host of exclusions. This got me thinking – is it really worth it?

When we surveyed 5,868 Which? members, we found they pay an average of £219 per year for home emergency insurance, but that 30% are dissatisfied with their insurance.

So we took a closer look at 18 home emergency policies and were shocked to find a wide range of exclusions that could prevent people from claiming. Many of the people we asked expressed bewilderment at the weird and wonderful exclusions they found in their home emergency policies – often discovered too late.

Exclusion confusion

Our own research found that very few of the policies actually offered cover that was as full as their advertising appeared to suggest. For example, you’d expect that ‘complete’ cover would include all necessary parts and a 24/7 service, for starters. But when we looked closer, we found this wasn’t always the case.

Some of the plumbing insurance we looked into didn’t include showers, which seems a little bonkers to me. Some heating cover didn’t insure boilers that were over seven years old, which again doesn’t seem quite right considering many people have old boilers. We even found that many of the providers we looked at won’t repair any damage to decorations or surfaces caused by their engineers while accessing the problem!

Dealing with dreaded delays

People also had gripes with the delays the engineers had in reaching them. Many providers list a host of reasons for delays like bad weather, industrial disputes, public transport or unspecified ‘other problems’ that may prevent them from getting to customers quickly. For example, one 70-year-old pensioner told us:

‘I had to wait four days for an engineer. [The provider] said I needed to be aged 80 or over to get fast attention. I could be dead by then.’

Somebody else found that their policy didn’t include repairs at weekends, which could leave you in a seriously sticky situation if you’ve got a home emergency on your hands.

So I’m asking myself if home emergency cover and all its exclusions and limitations are worth £219 a year. You could, if you wanted, put aside some money each month into an ‘emergency fund’ and dip into it as needed. Did you read the small print when you got your home emergency cover, or are these exclusions a surprise to you?


I have only buildings and home contents insurance. I have ignored all the offers of plumbing insurance, drain insurance, boiler insurance, extended warranties, etc. It has saved me a great deal of money and meant that I don’t need to worry about terms & conditions.

All of these services are intended to make profits for the companies that offer them. Bear that in mind before filling in a form and taking out another direct debit.

I’ve had cover for a few other things in the past, but I ended up coming to the same conclusion as wavechange and now I only have buildings and contents cover.

In my mind, most of the other things that you could get cover for, rarely go wrong, and when they do, the amount of money that you have probably spent on all the additional cover, by far will outweigh the cost of a repair.

Have home contents insurance too, there are however
generous exclusion clauses operating to own detriment
…. now that my Printer is working again, shall file court
proceedings to test the validity of a certain clause.

[“To claim for damages for breach
of contract, for breach of an express
term providing for funding of legal
expenses on occasion of an insured
event, with respect to issue of third-party
proceedings in accordance with the Terms
and Conditions set out in the Contract of
Insurance (Home Insurance Policy)
imposed, entered into or otherwise agreed
between both the contracting parties”]

Wish me luck.

I tend to stick to a particular company if well recommended as it appears to mean that the payouts are reliable (sort of “the longer you are with us the more we pay you” I don’t have the utilities insurances as they do not offer value to me. I do have £42,000 (cost prices) worth of analogue photographic equipment which was insured at cost price – Now alas it is worth next to nothing – so reduced gradually premium as it got older – now it’s only use is for our camera club to moon over – but makes a nice little “museum”

I read the small-print (carefully) & they still refused my claim!
I need to cancel the policy to be able to afford to get my heating back on.

Cath Griffiths says:
16 July 2014

I think that some Home Emergency Insurers are quite good and others are not and there is no way of knowing until you have cause to use them, as we did about 2 weeks ago. We were faced with a demand for an extra £44.90 for a part plus an unspecified sum for additional time spent at the property. Beware of service providers, on behalf of insurers, inflating costs hugely so that both parts and labour exceed what is allowed in your policy. This leaves customers in a difficult and possibly dangerous position unless they overpay the service provider. The insurers also overpay the service provider. Rip Off!

We lost power to our sockets in the kitchen, called our Home Emergency policy provider who contacted their service provider CET who then sent out a tradesman from a fairly local company (70 miles away) He diagnosed the problem, stood there with the part in his hand but was instructed to charge £144.90 for a part which we eventually paid £33.90 for when sorting the problem ourselves. My husband refused to pay the residual £44.90 (our policy has a £100 parts allowance) and we were eventually left with no option other than to sort it out ourselves.The insurers paid for the part and travel to collect the part. So, had we accepted the quote both us and the insurers would have overpaid. If this is extended to every such call out, where there is a 400% mark up in parts costs we are all losing out somewhere.

M Lewis says:
28 November 2017

CET did not get any better by 2017.Boiler stopped working in September,took them 10 days and numerous visits by engineers NOT to find the fault. No heating,no hot water I am old and disabled. Same again in November,four visit by engineers,then a letter that if it happens again (water got into the gas pipe) they will not cover it. No idea if they are legally allowed to exclude something from an existing contract. In future I shall make sure that I don’t get near CET.

Our home got burgled and we have home insurance cover with John Lewis insurance, which receives regularly a high score test score. The burglars broke a double-glazed garden door to gain entry into the building, leaving a man-sized hole in the glass. John Lewis insurance refused to help us board up the window and secure our house, even though with had their “Plus” cover policy. They firmly told us it is our responsibility to secure the property and find a professional to do this, because we didn’t purchase their additional home emergency package. They did not even give us the option to pay for it ourselves. They left us high and dry in a moment of urgent need, when we were scared, confused and stressed and needed urgent help to secure our property. I feel that securing a home after a break-in should be standard for all insurances, not only part of an additional emergency package! Evanda, the glazing company tasked by John Lewis to come out and measure the broken glass door contacted us right away and told us they could be with us within the hour to board up the door. But when they realised that we didn’t have the emergency package they cancelled the appointment and only would come the next day. Unbelievable.

Please dont go near CET emergency cover, it is anything but mergency. Over one and a half hours for them to answer my first call which was to report water comi g out of my central heating boiler. The next day an engineer came and told us the boiler must not be used in any circumstances, he submitted his report. Next day heared nothing so called them in the evening my claim had not even been approved at this stage. Informed them I was disabled and i was told it was high priority. Called the next one ing it’s still not been approved therefore the part has yet to ordered. Called later in the afternoon and the same story. I demanded that they speak to the engineer. Came back to phone and informed me they had and i would get a call later that day. Still waiting and it’s coming up to Xmas with no part ordered, they are a disgrace. Expect me to use electric heaters to keep warm and i have no access to any hot water.

It seems to me that there are a lot of overlaps which means taking out more than one policy to ensure full coverage. This means paying more than once for the same things.