Concentrating on the specialist market of home emergency cover, Homeserve isn’t your typical insurance company. Indeed, it started life in 1993 as a joint venture between South Staffordshire Water and Richard Harpin Fastfix with the specific aim of plugging a gap in the market due to home insurers not offering a complete home emergency solution. It sold its first plumbing and drains policy in 1994 and demerged from the water supply business in 2004, changing its name to Homeserve plc.
The business is headquartered in Walsall and has many trading companies, including some well-known names such as Chem-Dry and Servowarm that have been acquired over the years. The companies serve both domestic and commercial customers, with the Shopcare operation having originally been the emergency glazing arm of Pilkington Glass.
A network of around 5,000 approved tradesmen is available to UK customers and can be hired for particular jobs, such as improvement work or emergency repairs. These tradesmen also support the home emergency insurance business, with a claimed eight million policies sold across the UK, France, Spain and the US by 2008 and a new policy sold every fifteen seconds. The company also claims to complete 3,800 domestic emergency repairs each day in the UK.
A range of policies is offered, from single cover of particular areas (such as plumbing and drains or central heating), through multi-cover that offers specific packages, to comprehensive cover that provides complete protection. Customers can choose the level they need, with a stated monthly cost giving access to a 24-hour claim line, response within two hours, fully guaranteed repairs by approved tradesmen and nothing to pay up to the claim limit. Also available is landlord’s cover that enables landlords to conform to regulations and meet safety standards plus apartments and flats cover that is tailored to meet owner occupiers’ and tenants’ needs.
Policies available are quite specific in some cases:
- Combined Water and Electrics Cover
Complete Cover with Heating Annual Boiler Service
Complete Cover without Heating
EasyPay Gas Boiler Cover
EasyPay Gas Central Heating Cover
Electrical Emergency & Breakdown Cover
Gas Boiler Breakdown Cover
Annual Boiler Service
Gas Central Heating Breakdown Cover
Landlord’s Gas Central Heating Breakdown Cover
Landlord’s Plumbing & Drainage Cover
Plumbing and Drainage Cover for Flats
Plumbing and Drainage Cover for Houses
Plumbing, Drainage & Gas Supply Pipe Cover
Plumbing, Drainage & Water Supply Pipe Cover
Plumbing, Drainage & Wires Cover
Plumbing, Drainage, Water Supply Pipe Wires Cover
As well as buying cover direct from the company, partnerships are in place with various utility, energy and insurance companies (such as United Utilities and South West Water). These organisations also offer the policies while the arrangement often provides warranty cover on the products and services they sell.
In 2009, Homeserve signalled its intention to concentrate on its household insurance business by announcing it intended to dispose of its emergency repair business. Reduced profitability due to insurers driving down costs was given as the main reason for this. The disposal will remove 45% of the company’s revenues and reduce the workforce from 5,500 to 3,000 but allows it to concentrate on the area of the business that provides the bulk of its profit.
Finding the company is relatively easy with an identifiable brand name, despite the usage of descriptive terms. For good measure www.homeserve.co.uk redirects to the main site of www.homeserve.com but be careful as neither of the hyphenated versions of those addresses are owned by the company. Watch out for typing errors too with homeserver and homeservice being very different products to the UK insurance firm you are seeking!