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Home Care Plans vs Home Insurance Explained: Which One Do I Need?
Fixing a broken boiler or getting your heating system repaired can be exorbitantly expensive. That’s why many people live in fear of the day that their boiler gives up and they have to ring up their plumber and brace themselves for an unexpected and hefty bill. Under these circumstances, what many people want is peace of mind. They want to know that if something goes wrong, they can get things fixed fast and won’t have to shell out big sums of money to do so.
This is why the industry has development homecare plans. These plans require people to pay a small monthly fee in exchange for a guarantee that if things go wrong, it will be repaired without costing the earth. But these pans have had some bad press over the years and many people remain of the view that it is better, and cheaper, to rely on your home insurance instead.
In this guide, we are going to take a close look at both home care service agreements and home insurance. We will analyse the benefits and downsides of both and take a look at some of the premier providers. We will also seek to reach some definitive conclusions about whether you are best to opt for a home care plan or just rely on your insurance policy instead.
Table of Contents
What is a home care service agreement?
A home care service agreement or home care plan is a contractual agreement between a company that provides plumbing and heating engineering solutions and a homeowner or landlord.
As a homeowner, you agree to pay a set amount each month to the home care plan provider. These contracts will usually last for a minimum term of one year, although there are some providers that offer monthly rolling agreements.
In exchange for your monthly fee, the service provider will offer you a guarantee to repair your boiler and heating system if something goes wrong. You will have access to an emergency helpline, that will usually be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year round.
If something goes wrong, you can ring the helpline and the company will send a qualified engineer out to fix the issue at the earliest available opportunity. Most companies will seek to do this within 24 hours.
Depending on the level of coverage you opt to pay for, these plans can cover your boiler, heating system, plumbing, drains, electrics, and even things like pest control. Most will seek to use new and official parts wherever possible and send a manufacturer-approved engineer.
All home care plans should include the costs of any parts and labour, so the only price you will have to pay is the agreed excess. If you have taken the excess down to £0, you shouldn’t incur any costs for using their service at all.
A home care plan is a little bit like having an emergency service on hand to come and fix a whole range of problems in your home.
What is home insurance?
If you own a house, you are legally required to have some form of home insurance. The minimum that you must have is buildings insurance; that is insurance that covers the repair and reconstruction of your home should there be an accident that damages or destroys it.
Many people also choose to have contents insurance too. Contents insurance covers all of the furniture and belongings that you keep inside a home and ensures that if something is broken or damaged in an accident, you will get a payout to replace it.
Insurance policies can be fiendishly complicated and you should always read the small-print extremely carefully before signing up to one. But, many insurance policies will cover the costs of repairs to things like boilers, heating systems, and plumbing if something goes wrong.
We are regularly contacted by both homeowners and landlords who are of the view that home care plans are unnecessary because their home or landlord insurance covers the problem. They believe that they would simply be paying out twice for the same coverage by taking out a home care plan too.
In a sense, they are correct, but it is not quite as simple as that.
Home care plans vs home insurance: the differences
A home care service agreement is a type of insurance agreement, so in that sense it is true to say that you are doubling up on coverage, assuming your home or landlord insurance does cover your boiler, heating, and plumbing systems.
But a home care plan actually offers a great deal more than home insurance does, including:
- A repairs helpline – If you sign up for a home care pan, you will have access to a dedicated emergency repairs helpline that will arrange to send a qualified engineer to your home and fix your problem.
- All parts and labour included – There are no caveats with home care plans. Once you sign up, everything in the agreement is covered with no hidden costs for parts and labour. This is not guaranteed with home insurance that can sometimes only cover certain things.
- Guaranteed coverage – If you have a home care plan you have guaranteed coverage regardless of circumstances. Insurance companies will often look for ways to avoid making a payout if they can. This is far less of a problem with home care service agreement providers as their contracts are much simpler and clearer.
- Less work for you – If you use your home insurance to cover the cost of a boiler breakdown, you will have to do all the work finding a gas engineer and arranging a visit. With home care plans, you just have to make one phone call and the rest is done for you.
- Fast fixes – If you are trying to find a regular plumber or gas engineer yourself, you might end up having to wait days or even weeks for an appointment. If you go through a home care provider, you are guaranteed a fast appointment. If your issue is an emergency, they will usually guarantee to get someone to you within 24 hours.
- Replacement boilers – If your boiler is under a certain age and your home care plan engineer cannot repair it, your home care plan will cover you for a replacement boiler. Some home insurance policies may cover this, but not all.
- Range of coverage – Home care plans can cover a huge range of issues within the home. Choosing a high-end plan can even cover things like electrics and pest control. Home insurance tends to be far more restrictive and will often cover far less.
- Premiums – If you make a claim on your home insurance, you might get a payout, but you can expect to see that reflected in your premiums the next time you renew your policy. Some home care providers, like British Gas, will also raise premiums if you claim, but many others offer standard prices to all customers regardless of the number of claims they make, meaning you don’t end up paying for a callout further down the line.
- Peace of mind – Perhaps the most significant thing a home care plan can offer that home insurance, it is the peace of mind of knowing that if something goes wrong, it will be fixed quickly and properly regardless of the problem.
Best home care service agreements
As you can see, there are a number of benefits offered by a home care plan that you cannot get from simply using your home or landlord insurance.
If you can see how you would benefit from such a plan, the next question you will have is which home care plan you should sign up for?
The Heating Force team have been researching and testing all the top home care service agreement plans currently available in the UK. Our exhaustive testing has covered things like cost, value for money, quality of service, responsiveness, and how effective their repairs were.
It has been a big project, but all the results have now been compiled and Heating Force is now in a position to recommend the top three home care service agreements currently on the market:
#1- YourRepair Boiler Cover Homeplan
YourRepair Boiler Cover Homeplan is our top-recommended home care plan. It combines an unrivalled focus on customer service with flexible plans and low prices to deliver a hugely impressive all-around service.
YourRepair offers five plans that allow you to choose coverage from just your boiler to full coverage that even includes electrics, home security, and pest control. All of these plans are competitively priced and start from just £9 a month. They all include an annual boiler service and a carbon monoxide test as standard. The cost of all parts and labour are also included with every plan.
YourRepair operates a UK-based 24/7 emergency helpline and has a network of more than 5,000 qualified heating engineers on standby to help you. Their 95% first-repair success rate is a testament to the quality of their work and they also allow all customers unlimited repairs. The company’s customer service promise is a big reason why so many people continue to switch their coverage from other providers to YourRepair.
BEST HOMECARE PLAN: Try YourRepair Boiler Cover Homeplan today and save even more with our exclusive deal
#2- 24/7 Home Rescue Boiler and Heating Cover
24/7 Home Rescue is a UK-based company that has managed to combine its excellence in gas and heating engineering with high levels of customer service to create a compelling package.
With prices that start from just £7.47 a month, they are the cheapest provider on this list, but still offer exceptional value for money. All of their plans include an annual boiler service and cover the cost of all parts and labour as standard. You can enjoy unlimited repairs with 24/7 Home Rescue and they also boast a large network of engineers and claim to have a 95% first-time repair rate.
With 24/7 Home Rescue, you have a choice of three simple packages and their flexible monthly rolling contracts are a big USP and make them an attractive option for many out there who are still not completely certain they want the financial commitment of an annual home care plan.
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY: Rolling monthly contracts and low prices make 24/7 Home Rescue a truly cost-effective home care plan provider.
#3- British Gas Home and Boiler Cover
British Gas is the best-known and highest regarded provider on this list. Their reputation goes before them but this is reflected in their home care plans which are the most expensive of the three providers on this list.
With British Gas, you do get the surety that comes with using a tried-and-tested company and they also let you have a 14-day cooling-off period in case you change your mind about signing up. Reviews of their service are more mixed than the other providers on this list but they do offer four plans that cover everything from just your boiler to electrics and plumbing systems too.
British Gas have their own network of engineers which means you know the standard of service will be high, although this can sometimes mean they take longer to get to you during busy periods.
BIGGEST REPUTATION: You know what you are going to get with British Gas and for a little more you can have the confidence of using a tried-and-tested provider.
A note for landlords
These plans are all aimed at individual homeowners and not landlords. But there are landlord plans that offer equivalent coverage for rental properties and come with an annual gas safety certificate thrown in as standard.
We have reviewed the landlord plans of all three of our recommended providers and you can read those detailed reviews here:
- YourRepair Boiler Cover Landlord
- 27/7 Home Rescue Landlord Boiler and Heating Cover
- British Gas Landlord Home and Boiler Cover
The warranty dilemma
So far in this article, we have outlined the pros and cons of home care plans and home insurance. But there is one other option that we haven’t referred to so far: warranties.
If your boiler is covered by a warranty that is likely to mean that if something goes wrong, your boiler manufacturer is obliged to either fix the boiler or replace it. So, if your boiler is under warranty, do you really need to spend money on a home care plan too?
There are a number of reasons why we believe it is still worth getting a home care plan. Warranties do not offer the same level of emergency protection as a home care plan, so if something does go wrong, there is no guarantee you will get it fixed fast.
Warranties also tend to be fairly short. Unless you use a site like HEATABLE, which offers a 10-year warranty on Worcester Bosch or Viessmann boilers, the chances are that your warranty will only cover the first few years of your boilers life and even then only for a very specific set of problems.
It is inevitably going to be just after your boiler warranty expires that things start going wrong and your costs begin to mount. Warranties will also not cover additional costs such as labour, so even if you do use your warranty, you are still going to have to find money on top.
Ultimately, it is an individual decision for each individual homeowner and landlord whether they want to rely on their warranty or indeed their home or landlord insurance rather than invest in a home care plan. But based on our research and testing, we would certainly recommend the peace of mind and additional security that comes with a home care plan.
In one sense, a home care service agreement is very much like an additional insurance policy. But as we have explained in detail in this guide, you do actually get a great deal more from a home care plan than a simple home or landlord insurance policy.
We have detailed the additional benefits in this guide and also outlined our exclusive research which has identified the top three home care service agreement providers. We have also touched on the issue of warranties which is another option for covering problems with your boiler, but which also has its limitations.
Have you ever had a problem with your boiler or heating system and had to use a home care plan to get things fixed? Which provider did you use and how was the experience? Do you have any additional tips or advice for our readers when making a decision about their home care service agreement?
It is always helpful for our readers to hear about the real-life experiences of their peers, so please do share yours with them today using the comment box below.