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Posted on 25 October 2021

Thawing A Frozen Condensate Pipe

Even the most well-maintained boiler will struggle to work properly if the condensate pipe freezes, and as the colder weather draws in, it’s important to know what to do if your boiler stops working.

What is a condensate pipe?

The condensate pipe carries condensation from your boiler to the outside drain. It’s usually made of white or grey plastic and travels from your boiler through the wall and directly outside where your boiler is located.

Red exclamation point icon Common signs the condensate pipe is frozen

  1. Gurgling/bubbling noises coming from the boiler
  2. Your boiler fails to start
  3. A fault code/warning light is on the boiler’s display (this depends on the make/model of your boiler)

Red graphic of a water pipe How to find the frozen portion of the pipe

Your pipe will typically be frozen at the most exposed point. Run your hands along the pipe until you find the section which feels colder than the rest.

Red kettle icon How to thaw the pipe

Pour hot water along the length of the pipe, repeating until its thawed. Don’t use boiling water as this could crack or damage the pipe. If you’re using your kettle to heat the water, leave it to cool for 15 minutes or so (you could also use a hot water bottle or a microwaveable heating pack).

Red Boiler IconReset your boiler

Once you’re happy that the frozen section of your condensate pipe is melted, you can reset your boiler – use your manufacturer’s guidelines if you’re unsure how to do this. You should not find that your boiler works as expected.

How to stop this happening again

Leaving your heating on overnight can help to stop this happening by keeping your pipes warm while the weather’s cold. You could also buy foam pipe insulation to wrap the pipe in; this is available from most DIY stores.

To find out more about our boiler and central heating insurance, plumbing and drainage insurance or other types of home care cover plans, such as Complete Home Emergency plans and home appliances cover, contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can even request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a quote online.

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Posted on 11 October 2021

Unblocktober 2021

This month-long campaign runs throughout October and raises awareness of what items w should and shouldn’t be disposing of down our drains with the aim of improving the health of our plumbing and drainage systems as well as saving the environment.

According to Unblocktober.org, although 64% of the UK population say that they’re ‘very aware’ of what should and shouldn’t go down their drains, 48% of people will continue fishing substances they shouldn’t.

What can’t I flush/put down my drain?

As well as being bad for your plumbing and drainage system and leading to blockages that could cause problems, flushing plastics can also lead to pollution.

Disposable face masks, nappies, gloves, wet wipes (which are over 90% plastic), dental floss and even cotton buds are non-biodegradable because they contain plastics and putting them down our drains increases the likelihood of them finding their way to our rivers and seas, where around 8 million pieces of plastic end up every day!

You should also avoid pouring the following down your kitchen sink:

  • Cooking oil
  • Food – even small crumbs
  • Butter/margarine and lard
  • Cooking sauce

Problems this can cause

Thames Water have confirmed that each year they have to clear over 75,000 blockages from their sewer systems which are caused mainly by cooking oil and wet wipes being put down the drain. This can lead to floods of sewage in customer’s homes.

In the East of England, preventable blockages cost over £19 million a year and around 800 tonnes of unflushable items are being flushed each week.

What can I do?

  • Look out for the ‘Fine to Flush’ symbol on packaging (most products labelled flushable don’t break down easily)
  • If you suspect a blockage, clean your drains and pipes regularly with half a cup of baking soda, followed by a cup of white vinegar and very hot (but not boiling) water. This won’t corrode your pipes like some harsh drain cleaners
  • If you’ve used cooking oil or have fat left over from cooking, let it cool slightly and, before it hardens, pour it into a bottle to throw away
  • Prevent hair/food getting down the drain by investing in plughole protectors
  • Replace dental floss with reusable alternatives

Having cover in place before a plumbing and/or drainage emergency takes place is key. By taking out Plumbing & Drainage Insurance with Home Emergency Assist, you’ll be covered in the event of the failure of your plumbing and drainage system. If you upgrade to our ‘Premium‘ plan, we’ll also clear blockages, repair your taps and restore toilet facilities too.

To find out more about our plumbing and drainage insurance , boiler and central heating insurance or other types of home care cover plans, such as Complete Home Emergency plans and home appliances cover, contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can even request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a quote online.

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Posted on 14 June 2021

Common Dishwasher Problems & How To Solve Them

From leaks to cold water and noisy dishwashers, we’ve put together a handy guide to diagnose what might be going wrong with your machine.

Having cover in place before a problem develops is important, so you know you’re covered in the event of a mechanical or electrical breakdown or against accidental damage.

If you have Appliance Cover with Home Emergency Assist, we can help if one of your registered appliances breaks down. However, there are some simple checks you can do yourself before you call an expert.

Check for leaks

  • Make sure you’re not overloading on the detergent. Too much will leave a soapy residue in the detergent tray
  • Check that your dishes are stacked properly. Overloading or poor stacking could be the cause of the problem. Make sure you’re not cramming too much in the machine and that all items are in the trays correctly
  • Look around the door seal to check for wear and tear. If so, check your manual to find out the correct part number to order a replacement
  • Make sure the pipes are connected correctly and still in good condition

Not draining

A little water left in the tub is normal, but if there seems to be more than usual, check the following:

  • Check that the drain hose isn’t damaged
  • Make sure your drains aren’t blocked
  • If neither of these solve the problem, you may need a new pump. Check your owner’s manual for information on replacing the pump

Not filling

If you’ve noticed that your plates are coming out dry and dirty, your machine isn’t filling with water:

  • Check under the sink and make sure the hot water valve is open fully
  • If this is the case, check your owner’s manual to see if you can access the water inlet valve. This may be clogged up and need clearing out
  • If you’re still having trouble, you’ll need to call in appliance engineer

Not washing

If your plates are still dirty after a cycle, it may be due to poor loading:

  • Make sure your plates are loaded correctly; if not, they may be blocking each other, meaning that water and detergent won’t reach them
  • You can try adding more detergent, but if this doesn’t help, you may need to call in an appliance engineer

Excessive noise

  • When the machine is cold, look around inside for any hard objects such as stray knives, forks or food debris and remove from the machine
  • Make sure the unit is on an even surface
  • If your machine is making a thumping noise, your water inlet valve may need a replacement

 

To find out more about our home appliances cover or other types of home care cover plans, such as boiler and heating insurance, plumbing and drainage insurance and Complete Home Emergency plan contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can also request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a free quote online in minutes.

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Posted on 17 May 2021

How To Prolong The Life Of Your Oven

As with all your kitchen appliances, keeping them well-maintained and clean is the best way to ensure they last as long as possible, whilst working at their best.

Getting cover in place before your appliance develops a mechanical or electrical fault ensures that you’re covered should the worst happen. Home Appliance Cover with Home Emergency Assist covers up to 10 of your most important appliances all on one plan.

We’ve put together a handy guide for keeping your oven running as efficiently as possible.

The best way to clean your oven

  • Organic oven cleaner: you can use a mixture of water, baking soda and white vinegar to clean the dirt from inside your oven, however, you may need to work a lot harder at scrubbing than with a chemical cleaner. The benefit is that there are no harmful fumes or residue
  • Chemical oven cleaner: these are designed to attack dirt which is hard to shift so you’ll need to follow safety guidelines while using these, such as using gloves and eye protection. Once used, it’s best to leave the oven at a high heat for around 20 minutes before use, but follow manufacturer’s instructions

 

If you have a self-cleaning oven, the internal temperature will be set extremely high to burn any dirt away, reducing it to ash and making it easy for you to clean out with a cloth. A self-cleaning cycle will take a few hours; longer than manual cleaning.

Cleaning oven glass

As above, you can use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to clean your oven door glass.

Alternatively, if you’d rather use a chemical oven cleaner, check the bottle to make sure it’s suitable for use on glass. Some cleaners are too strong and may lead to cracks.

Everyday maintenance

  • Clean up after every use, whether it’s the hob or main oven. Removing grease before it becomes embedded will save you time later on
  • If possible, bulk cook. Using the oven once to cook multiple meals and freezing them will save on the wear and tear of your appliance as well as money on energy bills
  • Open and close the oven door gently and don’t hang anything heavy on the door
  • Replace any filters in the cooker hood regularly

 

Getting cover in place for any of your vital kitchen appliances before a problem occurs is vital. You can cover up to 10 appliances on one plan with our Appliance Cover, now with 25% off until 31 May 2021. Appliance Insurance with Home Emergency Assist covers you against mechanical and electrical breakdown, as well as providing you with accidental damage cover.

To find out more about our home appliances cover or other types of home care cover plans, such as boiler and heating insurance, plumbing and drainage insurance and Complete Home Emergency plan contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can also request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a free quote online in minutes.

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Posted on 30 April 2021

Simple DIY You Can Do Around Your Home

Being able to do basic home maintenance yourself is an important life skill which can save you money in the long term. Outsourcing jobs that you can do yourself can be a big expense.

We’ve put together a list of basic DIY skills you can learn to save yourself time and the inconvenience of having to find a tradesperson.

Basic Plumbing

We’ll all have to deal with plumbing problems at some point. Whether it’s a blocked drain, a leaking tap or a toilet with a faulty flush, these are all common problems and usually easy to fix.

  • If your plumbing freezes or springs a leak, you’ll need to be able to shut your water supply off in order to make repairs. Make sure you know how to locate your stopcock in the event of an emergency.
  • If your sink has stopped draining (or has become slow to drain), you’re likely to have a blockage somewhere in your waste pipe. Read our step-by-step guide to unblocking your sink.
  • Dripping taps aren’t just annoying – they’re bad for the environment (and your wallet) too. It can waste as much as 5,300 litres of water a year. Luckily, we’ve got a handy guide to fixing a leaking tap.
  • If your toilet won’t flush, there are things you can try before having to resort to a plumber. Find out more about fixing a faulty flush.

 

If you don’t have the right tools, you don’t feel confident attempting repairs yourself or the problem hasn’t resolved with a simple fix, you’ll need to call in a plumber. Having Plumbing & Drainage Cover in place before problems develop is important in the event of an emergency and with our Premium Plumbing & Drainage Cover, we’ll also fix non-emergency problems such as dripping taps.

Boiler and Central Heating

It’s important that you don’t attempt to fix your boiler yourself, as this will need to be done by a fully qualified Gas Safety registered engineer, however there are steps you can take yourself to resolve common problems:

  • If you find yourself without heating or hot water, there may be a problem with your boiler’s pressure. Follow our step-by-step guide to top up your boiler pressure.
  • If boiler pressure isn’t the problem, your boiler’s pilot light may be out. Read our handy guide to reigniting the pilot light. (You may need to get a Gas Safe registered engineer to look at your oiler depending on the issue)
  • If your radiators are cold at the top but the bottom is warm, you may have trapped air that needs releasing. In this case, you’ll need to bleed your radiators to improve flow.

 

If none of the simple fixes above help and you’re without heating and/or hot water, you’ll need to call an engineer. Making sure you have Boiler & Central Heating Cover in place before an emergency occurs is important and with Premium Boiler & Central Heating Cover from Home Emergency Assist, we’ll take care of non-emergency problems too.

Simple DIY

If you’ve just moved into your first home, there are some other basic maintenance tasks you can do yourself. Find out more with our easy-to-follow step-by-step guides below:

To find out more about our Complete Home Emergency plans, boiler and central heating insurance or other types of home care cover plans, such as plumbing and drainage insurance and home appliances cover, contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can even request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a quote online.

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Posted on 26 April 2021

Tips To Avoid Home Emergencies

You never know when a home emergency such as a broken-down boiler or burst pipes might happen, leaving you with the stress of sourcing engineer and with potentially costly repair leaving you out of pocket.

Even if you have Home Emergency Cover in place, there are still steps you can take yourself to prevent a home emergency striking in the first place. We’ve put together a list of things you can do to avoid this happening and to keep your property safe.

Service your boiler

If you’ve ever had a broken boiler, especially during the colder months, you’ll know just how stressful and potentially costly it can be. Having your boiler serviced annually can help spot small issues before they become bigger – and more expensive – problems.

You can add a boiler service to any of our Home Emergency insurance plans from just £6 a month. Find out what a boiler service involves.

Protect your pipes

Burst water pipes are especially common in cold weather due to water freezing and expanding inside your pipes. As the water expands, it can substantial pressure on the pipe, meaning weaker pipes may burst.

If you can, check that none of your pipes are missing insulation before the weather gets colder. Condensate pipes are especially prone to freezing as they often run outside your property. Find out how to thaw a frozen condensate pipe with our handy guide and make sure you know where your stopcock is in the event of a bust pipe, so you can stop the flow of water quickly.

Complete Home Emergency Cover can help protect your plumbing and, if you upgrade to our Premium package, also take care of non-emergency problems like dripping taps too.

Maintain your drains

The best way to look after your drains is to be conscious about the things you’re putting down your bath, shower and sink plug holes or flushing down the toilet. Even things like food down your kitchen sink or hair down your bath/shower plug hole can build up over time and cause blockages. You can read our blog post ‘Top Tips For Looking After Your Drains and Pipes‘ for information on looking after your plumbing system.

Blocked drains are inconvenient and unpleasant to deal with and could result in you having to call out a plumber to deal with the problem.

Our Complete Home Emergency package ensures that in the event of the failure of your plumbing system, that you have help to cover the cost of repairs.

Check outside

You may forget to check the outside of your property, but this is especially important to check before the cold weather sets in.

Make sure you don’t have any missing, broken, or loose roof tiles that could cause internal water damage when the weather turns bad.

It’s also important to check that you don’t have any holes or cracks that could let in water or even pests in search of a warm place to shelter.

Check too that your external locks, doors and windows remain secure and inaccessible to intruders.

By purchasing Complete Home Emergency Insurance, you’ll be covered in the event of any of the above home emergencies (from a list of specified pests if you discover an infestation in your home/building attached to your home).

Take care of your electrics

Overloading your electrical circuits or using faulty electrical devices can be very dangerous and result in a power cut, or in the worst-case scenario, an electrical fire. You should never attempt repairs on faulty electrics yourself, meaning you’ll need to get them checked out by a qualified electrician as soon as possible.

A Complete Home Emergency Cover package can protect you against the failure of at least one complete circuit (that can’t be resolved by resetting your fuse box), meaning you’re not left having to source your own electrician in the event of an emergency/

Home Emergency Assist is an appointed representative of Insure Group Limited, who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) giving you additional peace of mind.

To find out more about our Complete Home Emergency plans, boiler and central heating insurance or other types of home care cover plans, such as plumbing and drainage insurance and home appliances cover, contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can even request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a quote online.

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Posted on 8 April 2021

5 Ways To Prepare Your Home For Spring

The weather’s warming up, it’s getting lighter and you’re not using your boiler and central heating so often. It’s the perfect time to do some home maintenance to stop problems before they develop.

We’ve put together a handy guide with 5 tips for maintaining some essential parts of your home.

1. Check your boiler

Your boiler has been working hard over winter keeping you and your home warm and even if it seems to have been running smoothly, it’s a good time to make sure there aren’t any problems developing to help avoid potentially costly repair bills later in the year.

  • Look for leaks: over the winter months, the cold weather can cause pipes to freeze and expand which can cause them to split over time. Check the seals around the boiler are still in place and that the fittings are still tightly connected.
  • Listen for hissing: if your system is making strange noises, it may be caused by boiler kettling. This happens as a result of the build-up of limescale and hard water inside your boiler’s heat exchange.
  • Low boiler pressure: always keep an eye on your boiler’s water pressure to ensure everything’s operating smoothly. When the pressure is below 1, your central heating system won’t operate as it should.

Making sure you have Boiler & Central Heating Cover in place before your system develops these problems is crucial, so you know you’ll be covered in the event of an emergency.

2. Bleed your radiators

If the top of your radiator is cold but the bottom is warm, this indicates that trapped air needs releasing to improve flow. Bleeding your radiators ensures that they can reach maximum heat when you next need them.

Follow our handy step-by-step ‘How Do I Bleed My Radiators‘ guide.

3. Test your alarms

The change of season is the ideal time to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. It’s really important to make sure they’re regularly maintained to ensure they work as effectively as possible. You should test your smoke detector at least once a month, making sure that the batteries are still working.

4. Protect your plumbing

Look after your plumbing and drainage system by ensuring you’re not pouring oil and fats from cooking down your kitchen sink or flushing items that shouldn’t be.

If you suspect a blockage, clean your drains and pipes regularly. You can do this with half a cup of baking soda, followed by a cup of white vinegar and very hot (but not boiling) water; this will help remove blockages quickly without corroding your pipes like some drain chemicals can.

You can also take out Plumbing & Drainage Cover before any problems develop to ensure you’re covered in the event of an emergency.

5. Clean your kitchen appliances

Cleaning your appliances is important to prolonging their lifespan and keeping them working at their best.

For added peace of mind, you can cover up to 10 of your most important kitchen appliances, including your oven, fridge and freezer, washing machine and dishwasher, on one plan to ensure you’re fully protected if your appliance breaks down.

You can read our handy guides for cleaning your dishwasher and cleaning your washing machine for more tips.

To find out more about our Complete Home Emergency plans, boiler and central heating insurance or other types of home care cover plans, such as plumbing and drainage insurance and home appliances cover, contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can even request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a quote online.

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Posted on 15 March 2021

How To Protect Your Home’s Security

If you’ve ever had your external locks, doors or windows fail or lost your only available key, you know how stressful it can be knowing your home is insecure. You’ll also have to spend time and money finding a locksmith to change your locks and replace your keys.

A recent survey by Moneysupermarket found that nearly 37% of UK homeowners have lost at least one set of keys within their lifetime. This can impact your home’s security and even invalidate your home insurance in some cases. Most home insurers won’t pay out unless there’s forced entry to your property.

Benefits of Home Security insurance

Making sure you have cover in place to protect you against losing your keys and securing your locks can give you the peace of mind that if the worst were to happen, you’ll be able to get back into or protect your property quickly. It also prevents expensive call-out charges, especially if you were to call for a locksmith in the middle of the night or at the weekend.

What does Home Security insurance cover you for?

When you buy Complete Home Emergency Cover with us, you’ll get the benefit of Home Security insurance. There are two parts to the cover:

  • You’ll be covered in the event that you experience damage to or failure of any of your external locks, doors or windows that means your main living areas are unsafe and easily accessible to intruders
  • If you lose the only available key to your home, one of our trusted, approved engineers will gain access to your property and ensure it’s left secure for you. This means you’re not left waiting for a locksmith to rescue you

Tips to keep your keys safe

On average, we spend 10 minutes a day searching for items we’ve misplaced, keys being the second most common thing we lose. We’ve put together some tips for keeping your keys safe:

  • Avoid leaving spare keys in hidden places (such as under your doormat). It’s not as safe as you think
  • Separate your keys out rather than having them all on one bunch
  • Leave a spare with a family member or a trusted neighbour
  • Keep your keys out of sight when you’re at home and don’t leave them near doors/windows

Home Emergency Assist is an appointed representative of Insure Group Limited, who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), giving you additional peace of mind.

To find out more about our Complete Home Emergency plans, boiler and central heating insurance or other types of home care cover plans, such as plumbing and drainage insurance and home appliances cover, contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can even request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a quote online.

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Posted on 27 May 2020

Signs That Your Fridge Freezer Is Broken

It’s never good when your fridge stops working, and it’s not just the cost of repairing or replacing the fridge, but the cost of the food you have inside it too, especially with a measure of lockdown still being in place.

Having appliance insurance in place before problems start to develop is a good way of ensuring that your appliance downtime is reduced and that you’re not left with an unexpected expense but here are the most common signs to look out for that it might be time to replace your fridge.

Food going off too quickly

Food going mouldy quickly is a sure sign your fridge is struggling to regulate its temperature, particularly in the warmer months. There are a number of reasons why this right be happening:

  • The thermostat has broken
  • The condenser coils are dusty
  • The motor is working overtime

 

Before you waste any more food, it may be worth calling out an engineer or replacing your appliance.

An expensive energy bill

A sudden rise in your monthly energy bills could be caused by faulty kitchen appliances; especially when you know your day to day usage hasn’t changed.

Fridge-freezers are the worst offenders for this as they’re on 24/7 unlike your washing machine or dishwasher.

Too cold

While a little bit of water or ice in your fridge is perfectly normal, too much ice is a indication that there’s a problem. This is often due to the door seal needing to be replaced but if that doesn’t solve the problem, it’s a sure sign something’s wrong.

Strange noises

You’re probably used to your fridge humming but if it suddenly stops, accompanied with the loss of the internal light, it probably means you’ve lost power. Locating the blown fuse and flicking it back on will usually solve this problem but you may need to call your electricity provider if not.

If the hum disappears but the light stays on, this might be the sign of a bigger problem. You can try fixing it by turning the thermostat to its coldest setting (this may help to jump start it again), defrosting the fridge or turning it off and on again.

If your fridge makes any noises other than humming, this is a sure sign that something is loose or a part is on its way out.

To find out more about how our home appliances cover can help you solve your problems along with our other types of home emergency cover, including boiler and central heating, and plumbing and drainage insurance, contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can also request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a free quote online in minutes!

While social distancing guidelines are still in place, we are making every effort to keep both you and our engineers as safe as possible and to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This includes the use of PPE (personal protection equipment), frequent handwashing and you won’t be asked to sign anything. You can find out more about what to expect from an engineer visit on our Covid-19 FAQ page.

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Posted on 11 May 2020

Does My Boiler Need Repairing Or Replacing?

Having your boiler break down, especially when its cold outside, can be worrying and stressful; even more so in light of the coronavirus crisis. This is particularly true when you’re not sure if your boiler needs repairing or replacing completely.

In many cases, your broken boiler can be repaired easily and quickly, restoring your warm home. However, sometimes replacing your old boiler for a new, more efficient model is the best course of action.

So how do you know what’s the best course of action?

Safety First

If your boiler is old, it may not meet current regulations or safety standards. The first thing you should do is consult with a Gas Safe/OFTEC registered heating engineer to make sure that it can be safely repaired.  You may find even if it can be repaired, it may still be potentially unsafe and prone to further problems.

By taking out a Complete Boiler and Heating insurance policy with Home Emergency Assist, you can be assured that we will send out a qualified engineer in the event of a complete breakdown of your boiler and, if it were found to be beyond economical repair, a boiler replacement contribution payment would be made*.

Efficiency Savings

Even if your boiler can be fixed, you may find that a new boiler would be more energy efficient and therefore that you could save money in the long run.

Rather than paying for repairs, its worth asking yourself if it’s a good opportunity to replace your boiler and make efficiency savings.

However, if your boiler is already a new, energy efficient model, having it repaired by a registered engineer may be the best course of action.

Frequency of Breakdowns

If boiler breakdowns are becoming worryingly familiar to you, replacing it with a newer model may be the best option as the cost of repairing an older boiler will only increase over time.

Frequent breakdowns can be stressful too; especially over the winter months, so think about whether you’d want to avoid this stress completely and replace your existing boiler with a newer model, which is likely to be lower maintenance.

If, however, your boiler is a newer model already then repairing it is likely to be the better course of action as frequent problems are unlikely.

Its also worth bearing in mind if your boiler is out of its warranty period as you’ll no longer be covered for breakdowns and will need to cover the full cost of dealing with any issues yourself.

Our Complete Cover Boiler and Central Heating insurance is designed to help you if your boiler and/or central heating system breaks down completely, giving you peace of mind that your home will be warm again in no time even while you’re in lockdown.

To find out more about how we’re here to solve your emergency breakdowns with our boiler cover including service and other types of home emergency cover, including plumbing & drains and home appliances cover, contact our friendly team on 0330 09 48 301. You can even request a call back to discuss your requirements or get a quote online!

While social distancing guidelines are still in place, we are making every effort to keep both you and our engineers as safe as possible and to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This includes the use of PPE (personal protection equipment), frequent handwashing and you won’t be asked to sign anything. You can find out more about what to expect from an engineer visit on our Covid-19 FAQ page.

*BRC is automatically included in our Enhanced and Premium Cover Packages and an optional extra on the Standard Home Emergency Cover Package.

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