Home emergency assistance insurance is designed to deal with sudden emergencies and help prevent them escalating into major incidents. These include sudden incidents, such as electrical failure, individual or communal boilers breaking down, pipes bursting, or an infestation of pests.

In a block of flats, you should be aware of emergencies that might arise in common areas. Gallagher’s Emergency Assistance Insurance for blocks of flats can provide group cover for both common areas and individual flats.

As well as offering assurance that communal areas and shared services are covered, taking out this block cover could be more cost-effective than each flat owner paying for their own policy. It’s worth considering alongside your standard buildings cover.

What does an emergency assistance policy cover?

If there’s a sudden failure of a boiler or a plumbing emergency, an emergency assistance policy can cover the costs of an emergency callout and, at least, a temporary repair. Your insurer may pay for callout fees, parts, labour, and, if necessary, temporary accommodation for affected leaseholders.

In the event of such emergencies, the building manager or flat owner would need to contact the insurance provider’s 24/7 helpline. The insurer will then send out an approved local professional if the emergency is covered under the policy.

A group emergency assistance policy for a block of flats can include cover for:

  • Plumbing and drainage issues
  • Boiler and central heating breakdown
  • Electrical failure
  • Pest infestation, such as rats, mice, wasps, and hornets
  • Security issues, such as broken front door locks and lost house keys
  • Roof damage after a storm that exposes your home

What counts as an emergency?

An emergency is defined under the policy as a sudden unexpected event that needs to be fixed as soon as possible in order to:

  • Prevent damage or avoid further damage to the property, and/or
  • Render the property safe or secure, and/or
  • Restore the main services to the property, and/or
  • Alleviate any health risk to you

What you consider to be an emergency may not meet your insurer’s definition, so be sure to understand the level of cover provided by your policy. For example, a broken shower would be unlikely to be accepted as an emergency claim. The same might apply to a blocked toilet, if you have others on the premises that are working. Maintenance issues such as a dripping tap or rattling window are also unlikely to be seen as emergencies.

What is not covered by emergency assistance insurance?

Emergency assistance is not an alternative for buildings and contents insurance.

So, say a pipe bursts and water floods a room in your flat. Emergency assistance cover can help you access a professional to fix the broken pipe. The cost of alternative accommodation may also be covered if your home is uninhabitable due to an insured event. Be aware that if only a temporary fix is possible and more extensive repairs are needed, you may need to make a claim on your home insurance. However, if the damage to the pipe was due to ‘wear and tear’ you may find that the cost of repairing the pipe itself is not covered.

The replacement of ruined carpets and floorboards is not covered by emergency assistance insurance. Similarly, any excavation work to reveal water pipes or electricity supply will likely require trace and access cover, which may be included with your block of flats insurance.

Is emergency assistance cover mandatory?

Unless a duty for the freeholder to provide emergency assistance cover is stated in the lease, then buying it and sharing the cost of the premium between leaseholders is optional.

However, it can be beneficial if your service charge budget and reserves are not likely to cover what could be substantial costs of emergency repairs. Individual leaseholders may not want to risk having to pay emergency callout rates for issues within their own flat and may be happy to contribute to a group emergency assist policy.

Where can I buy emergency assistance cover for flats?

If you want to make sure that the whole block is protected – including individual flats and common areas - then our specialist Blocks of Flats Insurance team may be able to help you find suitable protection. We can arrange cover as a standalone policy or alongside buildings insurance.

Connect with a specialist or call us on 0800 612 8631.

These are brief product descriptions only. Please refer to the policy documentation paying particular attention to the terms and conditions, exclusions, warranties, subjectivities, excesses and any endorsements.