Households in the UK pay an average of £270 every time they need to get their boiler fixed, new research claims.
In the past year 18 per cent had at least one boiler breakdown leading to a collective payout of around £787million on boiler repair bills.
While most people rely on their savings to pay for the cost, 13 per cent are resorting to payday loans and credit cards.
Heating costs: One in five households had to pay for boiler repair bills in the past 12 months
On average the cost of repairing a boiler was £270 but some households said they paid more than £1,250, the comparison website uSwitch has found.
Of the 5,028 people asked by uSwitch how often their boiler had broken down in the past year, 18 per cent said at least once while the remainder had not had any problems.
When paying for the cost of a broken boiler, 52 per cent of respondents said they used their savings while 13 per cent used a credit card or loan.
Emma Bush, uSwitch energy expert, says: ‘It’s easy to take a working boiler for granted, but when things go wrong it can be expensive to fix – not to mention leaving you and your family shivering through a period with no central heating.
‘With consumers already facing energy price rises in the coming months, the sudden shock of having to repair a broken boiler – possibly costing over a thousand pounds – could deliver a tough blow to household finances.
Energy bills are rising with several of the Big Six providers announcing price hikes to bills
‘To give yourself some peace of mind and protection against boiler bill shock there are different options available to suit every household. If you are concerned about your boiler and it is over six years old, boiler cover with an annual service could be a good option for extra peace of mind.’
As the cost of energy is already increasing, with several of the Big Six energy providers already confirming price hikes, paying out for a broken boiler could be an extremely unwelcome cost.
However, before rushing into buying boiler insurance, it’s worth checking out all of your options, here we’ve listed the main points to consider.
Check to see if you’re covered on your home insurance policy
The first thing to do is to check your home insurance policy, as you may find you are already covered on it for boiler breakdowns and repairs. Some insurers will automatically include boiler repairs on your policy but it’s worth checking first as this isn’t standard with all insurers.
If your boiler isn’t automatically covered, your insurance may pay out if the boiler leaks and causes damage to another part of your house.
Some home insurers also offer additional ‘add-on’ cover. If you want to add this on, it’s always worth speaking to your insurer to see if you can negotiate a discount.
As there are quite a few different companies offering it, your insurer may be willing to lower the price as you’re already an existing customer – if not you’re free to buy it from another company.
What are the benefits of boiler cover?
Boiler insurance starts from around £5 per month and covers you if your boiler breaks and needs repairing.
Some policies will just pay for the repair bill while others will replace your boiler – which with boilers costing between £500 and £2,500 could be handy if you don’t have the money to pay upfront for a new one.
However, before you consider buying it you’ll need to check your boiler’s age as some, usually those which are at least seven years old, can’t be insured.
Boiler insurance policies start from £5 a month but are they worth it to cover for breakdowns?
These policies also come with cover limits so depending on the condition and age of your boiler, you may not be able to claim repeatedly. If it breaks twice in a year, for example, and the cost is £1,000 to repair it, but you’re only covered for £800 – you’ll have to pay out the rest.
You’ll also need to check the small print as boiler policies vary greatly. From those which just cover your boiler if it breaks, to full-blown Home Emergency policies which will also include cover for things such as burst pipes or pest infestations, which are obviously more expensive.
Before you buy cover it’s also worth assessing if you actually need it. The research from uSwitch shows that 18 per cent of people needed to pay out for boiler repair in the past year but 82 per cent did not.
Therefore by having it, you are paying for the peace of mind that if the boiler were to break it would be repaired at no extra cost – if you’re covered on your policy.
However, if you have the savings to cover this then paying out for cover, which starts from £5 per month for standalone boiler cover but can be much more, may not be worth it.
Will your energy provider help with your boiler costs?
The average repair cost according to uSwitch was £270 and just over half of those asked said they would use savings to cover this.
But for those who were relying on credit and loans to pay the repair bill, it’s unlikely they would have the spare cash to pay out for a monthly insurance product – especially as even the cheapest policies come in at around £60 a year.
There are several schemes for those who struggle to pay their energy costs so if you’re in this situation it is worth calling your energy supplier to find out if there’s anything you’re eligible for.
All of the Big Six energy firms run schemes for helping consumers to pay for new boilers and although these vary, they usually include the cost of installing an energy efficient boiler.
To be eligible you will usually need to be receiving certain benefits, which your provider can tell you about, but if you need more information the Energy Saving Trust can help.