Consumers pay over the odds for boiler cover, Which? warns

New Which? research reveals boiler cover is not cost effective for most consumers and many would be better off paying for repairs and services as needed.

With the cost of living and energy bills rising at alarming rates, many will be trying to find ways to save money on their monthly outgoings.

The consumer champion asked more than 7,000 of its members about their experiences of boiler repairs and services, and compared respondents with a policy including at least a service and repairs against those who did not have boiler cover to work out whether boiler cover is more cost effective.

Which?’s survey found that boiler cover is cost effective for just 0.4 per cent of Which? members who have boiler cover with British Gas and one per cent of members who have boiler cover with another company.

Those surveyed paid an average of £297 a year for boiler cover but only one in five (21%) had to call an engineer for boiler repairs in the past 12 months.

Those without cover paid an average of £87 a year for an annual service, plus any repairs when needed – meaning consumers stand to make substantial savings by ditching boiler cover.

Boiler cover is often cheap to begin with, with customers being lured in by introductory deals, but prices usually climb after the first year. Despite the high likelihood of getting a pricier renewal quote, only a quarter (27%) of our survey respondents tried to negotiate a better deal.

The consumer champion found that seven in 10 (70%) of renewal quotes in the sample were more expensive than initial quotes, one in five (21%) were the same and just three per cent were lower.

British Gas was the market leader with the largest sample size in Which?’s survey but provides poor value for money for long-term customers.

British Gas customers surveyed who have been with British Gas for one to two years pay, on average, seven per cent more each year than customers of other companies. After three to four years, they faced a 19 per cent higher bill than customers of other providers.

Which?’s research also shows consumers may be better off using an independent gas engineer for a boiler service or repair.

Two thirds of survey respondents used a local independent or Which? Trusted Trader gas engineer for a service or repair. Independent engineers received generally positive reviews and usually work out cheaper than a big brand as well.

Some home emergency policies include some boiler repairs – and sometimes even a replacement, so it is worth consumers checking the terms of their policy.

Which? advises boiler cover customers to consider whether they are getting value for money from their policy. If they decide to remain covered, they should check the levels of cover, shop around for other providers willing to offer a lower quote, or haggle with their provider when renewing policies.

Lisa Barber, Which? Home Products and Services Editor, said:

“Year after year, our research has found that boiler cover is a false economy and most people would be better off paying for an annual service and repairs when needed.

“If you do prefer having boiler cover for peace of mind, then it pays to shop around and haggle with your current provider to make sure you’re getting the best deal available.”


Notes to editors

Which? surveyed 7,903 members of its online panel between 10th and 28th June 2021 to understand how people look after their boilers and associated costs.

About Which?

Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.

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