There’s no denying that when your boiler breaks down it can sometimes be quite expensive to repair, we’ve all heard the horror stories of families being taken advantage of in an emergency and paying thousands to get the heating back on.
So, it’s understandable that people sometimes opt for the peace of mind offered by different boiler protection plans, but why are there so many and what, if any is best for you?
Below we’ll look at Boiler service plans, Boiler care plans, and Boiler insurance plans to see what exactly each offers and if you’d be better off just paying for boiler repairs as and when you need them.
A boiler service plan is usually the most basic and cheapest of all the plans and will only include your annual boiler service, some may offer a few minor things like bleeding the radiators or balancing the heating system but in general, they will only include your annual boiler service.
They are most suited to people who have had a new boiler installed and need to make sure they have an annual boiler service to keep their warranty valid. The benefits are you get to spread the cost of your annual boiler service, usually over 12 months, and most importantly the service company will take over responsibility for planning the service, so you won’t forget and accidentally let the warranty become void.
The main negative of a service only plan is there are no repairs included, if you have a new boiler and the manufacturer decides for any reason that the warranty is no longer valid (which happens a lot) then you’ll need to pay for any repairs.
Even if you do keep the warranty for its entirety, it’s only the boiler that will be covered, the heating system and controls will still need to be repaired privately if they develop faults.
Boiler Care Plans sit somewhere in between Boiler Service plans and Boiler Insurance Plans.
There are lots of different options to choose from, most will offer three levels of protection, boiler repairs only, boiler and controls repairs, boiler and controls, and full central heating system repairs. There are also different types, some will act as a cover plan and include the repairs in the monthly price but might charge a small call out fee for every job while others will charge a lower fee each month, like a service only plan, but the monthly fee is basically a retainer that will guarantee you a priority response and usually entitles you to hefty discounts of off the advertised rates with no additional call out fee.
All the care plans will include your annual boiler service with minor repairs like bleeding radiators or changing batteries in your controls etc.
The main benefits of a retainer type plan are you pay out less each month and importantly there will be no restrictions so the horror stories mentioned above should be no worry as you’ll be entitled to a 20-40% discount on the advertised rates The benefit of a cover type plan over a retainer is the peace of mind that you won’t need to folk out even a moderate sum when the boiler does need repairing as you’ve basically already paid for it. Do check the fine print of any plan that includes parts and labour though, often there is a long list of exclusions such as main heat exchangers or anything relating to sludge and scale that will mean despite paying your monthly fee you could still be liable for a large repair bill.
All types of care plans, retainer and cover are best suited to people who maybe had their warranty declared void by the boiler manufacturer or perhaps the warranty has just ended. If your boiler is very old and in bad condition you could well be denied a plan as it’s too much risk for the service provider, also as the plan is not an insurance plan you should be able to leave at any time with no cancellation fee and your monthly price shouldn’t change unless the company raises their prices.
Boiler insurance plans will usually offer a very similar level of cover as a Boiler Care Plan and include all parts and labour in the price, but with less exclusions and instead of a monthly fee or retainer you’ll pay a monthly premium that will fluctuate depending on how often you use your cover and how old the boiler is.
Things like sludge and scale will usually still be excluded but as it’s an insurance plan things like accidental damage should be covered.
Insurance plans are probably a bit more expensive than care plans and you’ll usually be locked in for at least 12 months.
A Boiler Insurance Plan is best for people with very old boilers and old heating systems, if your heating is breaking down 3 or 4 times a year your premium will be quite high in comparison but overall, it’ll probably be less than calling out a private boiler repair each time.
Each type of cover has its own merits and there are certain situations for all, a Which? Study found that on average people who have full cover plans, either insurance or care plans typically pay more overall than those who just get the boiler serviced each year and pay for repairs as and when they are needed, that wasn’t even considering the discounts offered by retainer plans.
Our honest opinion is unless your boiler is 15+ years old and breaking down every couple of months a good retainer plan from a solid, reliable service provider is probably the best option.
It gives you the peace of mind that you shouldn’t face huge repair bills, it will probably include minor repairs and a good one should offer you a guaranteed priority response of 24 hours or less. They’re also great if you have a new boiler with a long warranty as the discounts can be used for your heating system and controls and the service provider will manage your annual boiler service to make sure you don’t let it slip.
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