What happens if my energy supplier goes bust?
- By: Ashley Saunders
- October 2020
Just like with any business, energy suppliers close down. It’s rare but does happen. If your energy supplier goes bust, don’t worry as the gas and electricity regulator, Ofgem, will move you to a new supplier.
Completing the change over will take a few weeks, but you shouldn’t notice any difference. Your new supplier will contact you within a few weeks, although you’re free to call them at any point.
If you’re unsure who your new energy supplier is, you can check who’s taken over your energy supply. If you were planning to switch tariff or even supplier, you will need to wait until your account has moved otherwise you might find it harder to recoup any money owed.
If your account is in credit when your energy supplier goes bust
If your energy supplier goes bust and your account is in credit then your money is protected. This applies to home-owners and renter. However, the rules are different if you’re a small business. Your new supplier will notify you with details on how you’ll be repaid.
Before your new supplier makes contact
After your energy supplier goes bust, it’s worth gathering some data while you wait for the new energy supplier to contact you. If you used an online account with your last supplier, then log in, check your balance and download any bills. You should also take meter readings as well as photos of the meters.
It’s worth keeping any old bills and paperwork you have as they prove you’re payment history and show any credit balance or debt you might have. Again it’s worth making a note of these in the same place as you record the meter readings.
As you’re required to keep paying your energy bills even if your energy supplier goes bust, don’t cancel your direct debit straight away. You’ll need to wait until you’ve been successfully switched and your new account is active.
When your new supplier makes contact
When an energy supplier goes bust, the new supplier will write to the customers they are taking over. Your new supplier will write to tell you that your new account is set-up. You might find that your new tariff is more expensive than the old one.
Before you worry about how you’ll find the extra cash, contact them and ask to be put on the best tariff for you. If they can’t match or better your old tariff, then you still able to switch and you don’t have to pay an exit fee.
However, you should wait, until your account is set-up before moving supplier, as you could find it harder to reclaim any money you’re owed.
Any outstanding complaints with your old supplier that haven’t been resolved, should be raised again with your new supplier.
Can I still get the Warm Home Discount?
Not every energy supplier offers the Warm Home Discount. So when your energy supplier goes bust, you’ll need to ask your new supplier if you can still get it. If they don’t offer it, then you’re free to switch to a different supplier at no cost.
Will I still be on the priority services register?
Again, you’ll need to ask your new supplier if you have been placed on their priority services register. If this hasn’t happened, then ask to be added to their priority services register. Being on the priority services register enables you to receive extra help or services free of charge.
Can I keep my smart meter?
As different energy suppliers use various smart meters, you might find that after moving to the new supplier, your meter stops working in smart mode. So you’ll have to submit meter readings online rather than the meter sending them to the supplier automatically.
If you currently top-up using an app, this could also stop working. So you’ll need to ask your new supplier how to do this.
You might want to consider switching to a different supplier if you prefer your meter to work in smart mode. However, before you switch you must contact the supplier to ask if they’ll support your smart meter working in smart mode.
I’m on a prepayment meter, what should I expect?
As a prepayment customer, when your energy supplier goes bust, do not panic as you should be able to continue as before. That said, only top up your meter in small amounts until your new account is set-up. Ideally, only keep it topped up so it will last a few days.
Some prepayment meter will wipe any credit when accounts are moved between suppliers. If this happens to you, don’t worry as you will get your money back, but it can take a while.
As part of moving supplier, your new supplier should let you know how to top up your meter and if necessary, provide you with a new prepayment meter at no cost to you.
It’s worth locating your nearest top-up point as this may be different from the one you’ve been using. Also, your new supplier should tell you how much emergency credit you can get as this could be different from your previous supplier.
You might find that your new tariff is more expensive than the old one and so want to switch suppliers. You’re able to switch to a cheaper tariff with a different supplier without having to pay an exit fee.
I was in debt to my old supplier, do I still owe money?
Sadly, you’ll still owe money even if your energy supplier goes bust. As your new supplier has no obligation to take on your debt, wait for them to contact you. If they don’t, the administrator who’s winding down the firm will.
New supplier takes on your debt
Your new supplier will contact you to arrange a payment plan. Try to negotiate a deal that works for both of you. If you’re struggling to pay, they have to help you find a way to pay.
You have to pay an administrator
If the administrator is collecting debts for your old supplier, then it’s likely you’ll get a bill from them instead of your old supplier. They might ask for the full amount upfront as administrators don’t have to follow the same payment rules as energy companies.
Try to negotiate a payment plan or discount with the administrator. If your debt means you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, then speak to your new supplier.
Any new bills should be, should be checked against your old bills and statements. If you’re not able to pay, contact the administrator that sent you the bill to discuss your options.
If you were using a prepayment meter to pay off your debt, you might not be able to use this method to repay the administrator. However, they will have to be to clear with you how they expect you to pay off the debt.
Don’t panic if your energy supplier goes bust
You should now have a clear idea of what the next steps are if your energy supplier goes bust. You should find the process is seamless but do stay on top of it. It’s worth noting down current meter readings and organising your old bills in a folder.
If you’re struggling to pay at any point, talk with your new energy supplier as they have to help. As a last resort, you can complain to Ofgem.