Couple complain after wrongly diagnosed boiler issue leaves them without hot water

Contents insurance Distress and inconvenience Up to £750

Ron and James got in touch after they had been left without hot water or heating during the winter when engineers wrongly diagnosed the problem with their boiler. After hiring their own engineer who fixed the problem quickly, they came to us because of how their insurer had dealt with the situation.

What happened

Ron and James’ boiler stopped working during a particularly cold period of winter, which meant they had no access to hot water and heating when the couple needed it the most. They told their home insurer who also provided home emergency cover. But despite multiple visits and efforts over the following weeks, the insurer’s engineers couldn’t fix the fault.

The insurer later discovered their engineer had diagnosed the fault incorrectly, which was the reason they’d been unable to fix the problem. Disappointed with what had happened, Ron and James appointed their own engineer to look at the problem, and they were able to resolve the problem promptly.

Ron and James complained that, as two elderly consumers who find it less easy to get around, they spend most of their time at home. They said they were uncomfortable because of the cold and it had caused them sleepless nights. They also weren’t able to invite friends around as they normally would. They said they were using their kettle each time they needed hot water for their washing and to fill the bath.

The insurer said as their daughter lived nearby, they were able to use facilities there – and it sent the couple portable heaters to use during the period in question. The insurer felt this mitigated some of the impact, but it did make Ron and James an offer of £250 in compensation.

What we said

We felt the insurer should’ve been able to establish and repair the fault much sooner than it did. And the insurer’s repeated errors caused significant inconvenience for Ron and James as they were without heating for around two months longer than they should have been. It also caused them a lot of worry and day to day disruption.

We accepted that engineers visiting on many different occasions was inconvenient and having to arrange an engineer to sort things out had been added effort. We also acknowledged that their daughter lived nearby but didn’t think Ron and James would have been able to make frequent trips given the mobility issues they’d described. So, on top of covering the cost of their own engineer and the increased electricity bill from the portable heaters, we asked the insurer to pay total compensation of £700 for the distress and inconvenience that had been caused.