If you need an emergency plumber, add 117% to the price

  • Plumbers charging an emergency call out rate increase their usual hourly rate by an average of 117 per cent
  • 42 per cent of plumbers have a minimum charge for a call out, which can be up to 500 per cent higher than the quoted hourly rate
  • A plumber in Caterham quoted an hourly rate of just £25, but has a minimum charge of £150 for each job attended
  • Direct Line Home Plus’ new Emergency Plumber cover ensures a plumber attends a customer’s property within three hours to address unstoppable leaks

New research1 from Direct Line Home Insurance reveals the ‘plumber premium’ if you need a tradesperson to fix a leak in an emergency. Plumbers with an emergency call out rate inflate their usual hourly rate by on average of 117 per cent with some plumbers quoting up to £300+VAT an hour to tackle an emergency situation. This is just the cost for the labour; householders would find their bill even higher when parts and materials are included. Escape of water requires a quick response, as a burst pipe can result in 30 gallons of water escaping in as little as two minutes.

It is important that householders, even in an emergency situation, check a plumbers’ pricing plan before booking them in for repairs. Researchers found that 42 per cent of plumbers have a minimum charge, which can be up to 500 per cent higher than their quoted hourly rate. One plumber in Caterham has an hourly rate of just £25+VAT, but has a minimum charge of £150+VAT for each job attended, even if it is a simple fix taking just a couple of minutes.

It is not just emergency call out rates where householders may find themselves paying an unexpected premium. Almost half (48 per cent) of plumbers increase their hourly rate for tackling problems during unsociable hours. If you call a plumber to tackle a problem with a sink, pipe or cistern outside office hours you may find yourself paying the plumber an average premium of 112 per cent on their usual hourly rate.

Morgan Simpson, Direct Line Home Emergency Response Manager, commented: “Escaping water can cause huge damage to a home and neighbouring properties extremely quickly. A burst pipe or leaking water tank can cause thousands of pounds of damage in a short space of time. Escape of water is the highest claimed peril by value that insurers cover, which gives an indication of the extent of damage it can cause. If you don’t have emergency cover with your insurer there is the temptation to call the first plumber you can find, but you may discover even if the hourly rate quoted is low they have an expensive minimum call out rate or emergency call out surcharge.”

Those with a burst pipe can expect to pay an average £101 for a plumber to tackle the problem and an average £133 to address a leaking water tank. Given these costs are subject to VAT householders can expect a hefty bill if they have a plumbing emergency, even before the cost of tackling any water damage to flooring, furniture and ceilings. Some plumbers will also charge for travel on top of the rates quoted.

Consumers concerned about the impact of escape of water in their property can take advantage of Direct Line Home Plus’ which includes Emergency Plumber cover, with no excess to pay. The service ensures a plumber attends a customer’s property within three hours to address unstoppable leaks, following an incident such as a burst pipe. Direct Line will pay up to £500 (including VAT) for emergency assistance to cover the cost of the call-out, labour at the customer’s home, and parts to fix the leak. With Home Insurance Plus policies from £174*, customers could make significant savings if they need to make a claim.

For water leaks that can be contained by turning off the water supply, Direct Line will still ensure an Emergency Plumber is sent to the property at a time convenient for the householder. Customers also benefit from no excess charges for plumber call outs and unlimited call outs during their policy period.

Notes to editors

1Research conducted 11th-22nd April 2016 amongst a sample of 102 plumbers from across the UK.

* Average percentages only relate to when a parking space was identified as available to purchase with a property. 20% of our customers paid this or less between 1st September 2015 and 29th February 2016.

Customer must have Home Insurance Plus, which includes Home Emergency, or have purchased Home Emergency as an ‘add on’ in order to be eligible for the cover.

The leak resulting from a burst pipe must be uncontrollable, defined as an escape of water that cannot be contained by the policy holder and is causing further damage to the home and/or causing a health risk and/or the property to be unoccupied.

Excludes Highlands and Islands. Extreme weather conditions may extend response time. Terms and cover limits apply.

For further information, please contact:


About SELECT Premier Insurance

Direct Line offers SELECT Premier Insurance to cover homes, cars and valuables of high worth, as well as breakdown cover, pet and travel insurance, all covered under just one policy. When taking out SELECT Premier Insurance, Direct Line will even pay your cancellation charges from your previous policy, making it even easier and affordable to have all your policies under one roof, with one payment plan and one renewal date.

At SELECT Premier Insurance we help you stay in control by offering you a truly personal service. To begin with, one of our accredited insurance advisors will carry out a complimentary individual telephone review with you. Then they’ll give you tailored advice, based on your unique needs, for example, specialist cover for valuables such as fine art and jewellery (without needing to list individual items worth less than £10,000) or for your property portfolio, to ensure you get exactly the right level of cover.

To find out more about what Direct Line SELECT Premier can offer, go to www.directline.com/select or go straight through to an expert, not a machine, on 0800 206 2849

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and U K Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com

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