Hidden Hurdles: Over half of UK homeowners vulnerable to footing expensive bills due to confusion over household protection policies

Despite the majority of UK homeowners (79%) admitting how important it is to have protection policies in place for house-related emergencies, more than half (54%) could unwittingly see a future claim – in relation to their gas boiler – rejected, by underestimating some of the typical clauses of home insurance emergency cover policies, as well as boiler warranties1.

The new research from Gas Safe Register – the UK’s official registration body for gas engineers and gas businesses – found that 1 in 5 (21%) homeowners wouldn’t be able to afford to pay out any more than £1000 for any kind of emergency home repair, without relying on a loan or help from others. This figure rises to more than a third (36%) of homeowners that couldn’t afford to pay more than £2,000 on any given emergency repair.

However, with one in ten (9%) having had a claim made to insurers rejected – often due to simple errors that make a policy invalid, homeowners could be left vulnerable to footing an expensive bill for fixing faults that they thought would be covered under their household protection policies.

One in ten (11%) have had to rely on credit cards or loans to pay for unexpected repairs, 6% have had to call on family or friends and 5% claim they’ve been left in debt as a result.

With over 12.4m homeowners not being fully aware of what could invalidate their boiler warranties or the conditions of their insurance policies2 – including the fact that letting a year slip by without getting a boiler service could mean it isn’t covered for expensive repairs or replacements, Gas Safe Register has assembled a team of consumer champions and property experts including TV property expert Martin Roberts and TV consumer rights expert Martyn James – to warn homeowners of the financial and safety implications of not regularly servicing and safety checking their gas boilers, and the importance of taking action during the spring months after a cold winter of usage.

Experts recommend homeowners get all gas appliances (boilers, cookers and fires), flues and pipework, regularly maintained and serviced annually by a suitably qualified and competent Gas Safe Registered engineer. However, today’s new data reveals that for more than one in five (22%) homeowners, their gas boilers were last serviced by a registered engineer more than a year ago.

Checkatrade estimates the average cost is £100 a year to have a gas appliance safety checked, to avoid unexpected and potentially more serious issues occurring. In contrast, if a boiler breaks down, each call-out could cost up to £200 and replacing a boiler – including the fitting costs – can cost up to £5,0003.

With a quarter (26%) of homeowners admitting they’ve never read their policy in full and 15% claiming it confuses them, the Gas Safe Register’s team of experts is encouraging everyone to get up to scratch on the T&Cs to avoid being left out of pocket and potentially without hot water and heating if it’s a boiler-related issue.

Martyn James, Consumer Rights Expert, Columnist and Presenter, says: “Let’s face it, understanding the small print of your cover or policy is likely to be the last thing you think about – that is – until the worst happens and you need to make a claim. The last thing you want to be worrying about is how you’re going to pay for a breakdown, repair or replacement of an essential home appliance such as the gas boiler, and there are some key things to watch out for when it comes to policies and a potential claim.

It's vital to make sure you’ve had an annual gas safety check and service by a Gas Safe registered engineer. If you haven’t, it could invalidate a future claim. Without it, you’re potentially risking having to pay for one of the heftiest home appliance costs should something go wrong. None of us can afford to assume we’re covered for the unexpected, so understanding those T&Cs could save you a lot of money in the long run. A small investment in a service check now, could save you – potentially – from thousands of pounds worth of major repair bills down the line.”

Martin Roberts, Homes and Property TV Expert, adds: “After a bitterly cold winter, I know we’re all looking forward to switching off the heating and easing-up on our fuel usage. But, the best way of being prepared for future cold snaps, is to get ahead with maintenance and get your boiler serviced during the spring months, rather than waiting until it’s in heavy need again.

There will obviously be costs if repairs or replacements are required, especially if you have unknowingly invalidated the conditions of your insurance policies or your boiler warranties. And when it comes to the health and safety of your family and loved ones, it’s a small price to pay. Having unsafe and un-serviced gas appliances can not only put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, but can increase the possibility of gas leaks and, in some instances, lead to fires and explosions. So, take action now and don’t get left in the cold next winter.”

Rob Denman, Head of Professional and Field Services at Gas Safe Register, adds: “Boilers are among one of the most important appliances within our homes, as it keeps us warm when it’s most needed – so it’s important that we stay on top of their upkeep. A regularly serviced boiler not only keeps it working efficiently, helping reduce bills, but can also reduce the risk of gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning – keeping you and your loved ones safe. It is also a stipulation of most insurance and warranty policies, which could mean your claim is unsuccessful for a boiler breakdown, repair or replacement, should you need one.

Many engineers get busier in the autumn and winter months when central heating within homes is turned on, and at a time when badly maintained boilers throw up problems. By booking in your annual boiler service now, to detect early signs of wear and tear, replace any faulty parts and help keep it well maintained before it will be in constant use again this autumn, you can minimise disruption to your household.”

Gas Safe Register, Martyn James and Martin Roberts are encouraging households to stay S.A.F.E this spring:

  • S stay alert to the ‘silent killer’. An effective way for you to keep yourself and everyone in your house safe from potential carbon monoxide leaks, is to have an audible carbon monoxide alarm. It could save your life.
  • A always ensure all your gas appliances are regularly serviced and safety checked every year. If you rent your home, ask for a copy of the current landlord’s Gas Safety Record.
  • F find a Gas Safe registered engineer in your area, by searching your postcode, town or city. You can use Gas Safe Register’s website online search, or call 0800 408 5500.
  • E ensure you understand the terms of your boiler cover. Familiarise yourself with the details of your home emergency cover or boiler warranty - including what is covered and any stipulations. With many, for example, you are required to complete a regular/annual service to ensure your boiler is safe. If you don’t, any future claim may not be valid.

To find a local Gas Safe registered engineer in your area and for further gas safety tips, visit www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.


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1 Research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Gas Safe Register. OnePoll surveyed 2,000 UK homeowners who have gas appliances in their home between 19th and 25th February 2024. OnePoll are members of ESOMAR and employ members of the MRS.

2 According to the Climate Change Committee, approximately 23 million UK homes are connected to the gas grid through a boiler and wet-based central heating system. The research found 54% could unwittingly see a future claim – in relation to their gas boiler – rejected, by underestimating some of the typical clauses of home protection policies. 54% of 23 million is 12.4 million.

3 Source: Uswitch.com.

About Gas Safe Register

Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas businesses and engineers who are registered to work safely and legally on boilers, cookers, fires and all other gas appliances. By law all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register. To find a Gas Safe registered engineer visit www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.

The Gas Safe Register, gas registration scheme is owned by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and exists to protect the public from unsafe gas work.

Gas Safe Register replaced CORGI as the gas registration body in 2009.