Insuring against a domestic crisis
Home insurance providers are getting in on the ‘breakdown assist’ act, offering emergency services to deal with plumbing problems and broken boilers
HAVE YOU EVER found yourself stranded at home because your car, which is sitting outside your front door, won’t start? Or how about you have a car full of kids and get a puncture which you are unable to fix?
The solution, for many of us, is to call our car insurance provider. Now offered as standard on many car insurance policies, breakdown assist services have come to the aid of many in need. And now home insurance providers are getting in on the act, offering home emergency services to help you deal with those nasty surprises such as a leaking washing machine or broken boiler. But who offers them, how much do they cost, and are they worth investing in?
HOW MUCH DO THEY COST?
First off, a quick run-down on the cost. With the AA, which launched its home emergency response service to much fanfare earlier this year, you can expect to hand over €16.99 a month or €204 a year, for its product which includes the cost of an annual gas boiler service. If you’re willing to forego the boiler service, then you can get the service for €6.99 a month (€84 a year).
Bord Gáis also now offers a number of options for customers looking to keep their boilers in shape. Its bronze package, which costs from €99 a year, covers the cost of a service as well as call-out appointments within 48 hours for breakdowns.
Alternatively, for an extra €35 (€12.15 a month), you will get priority next working day appointments for breakdowns as part of its silver package as well as the cost of labour involved. If you really fear being left in the cold this winter, its gold package also covers the cost of any parts that might be needed as part of your boiler maintenance (up to €1,000 a year). It costs €159 a year, or €14.31 a month.
Chill.ie, in conjunction with Mapfre, also provides a home repair service. It costs €44 a year, and offers 24-hour, 365 days a year cover.
Moreover, some insurance providers, such as Zurich Insurance, offer a home emergency response service as part of its regular home policy. Its assistance service will arrange for an approved contractor to contact you immediately in the case of an emergency. If the incident is something that is covered under your home insurance policy, then Zurich will cover the cost of the visit – if it is not, then Zurich says the contractor will “offer a specially negotiated rate for the repair of the property”.
Or you can get such a service as a top-up on your existing policy. Aviva for example, charges €25 extra for its service, which includes providing overnight accommodation for up to four people if you find yourself unable to stay in your home for some reason.
WHAT DO THEY COVER?
For the most part, home emergency services are limited to plumbing incidents.
Bord Gáis’s cover is focused exclusively on boiler servicing, but with AA the range is wider, although it does centre on plumbing incidents, such as burst pipes, blocked drains, leaks, as well as the removal of rats, mice, wasps and hornets.