A home warranty, like so many things in our lives, is something that we don’t often think about until we absolutely need it. Sure you have home insurance, maybe even flood insurance, but that only covers certain situations.
Homeowners or renters insurance can cover damage to your home from things like fire, theft, storms and some natural disasters. While renters insurance is elective, homeowners insurance is a requirement if you have purchased a home.
In addition to your homeowners insurance plan, you can and should choose to purchase a home warranty to protect your belongings in a way that insurance lacks. If you’ve ever purchased a large appliance, a computer, or even a television from a retailer then you’re probably familiar with the concept of a warranty.
However, those are warranties sold at the time of purchase and cover only one product. The benefit of a home warranty is that it can cover every product in your home and more.
What a home warranty covers will depend on the plan that you choose and there are a lot to choose from. A home warranty can cover anything from your microwave oven to your plumbing and your electrical system.
Deciding which plan is right for you will determine what items and systems it covers and how much it will cost. Typically, a home warranty is charged as either a small monthly or annual fee that can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Table of Contents
- 1 What’s the best home warranty company?
- 2 What does a home warranty cover?
- 3 How much does a home warranty cost?
- 4 What exactly does a home warranty cover?
- 5 What is the process for having an item repaired?
- 6 What should you look for in a home warranty company?
What’s the best home warranty company?
There are a lot of options out there when choosing what company to go through when purchasing a home warranty. There are also a lot of things to consider.
To help you with your search, we’ve put together a short list of companies that have received higher marks and that we feel do an excellent job at providing coverage no matter your needs.
#1: American Home Shield
The accolades American Home Shield has received are many. In addition to being a Better Business Bureau Accredited Business, they also received the Women’s Choice Award from 2014 to 2016.
On top of that, Home Warranty Reviews gave them the Best in Service award in 2014 and ranked them as Top Rated from 2015-2017. Last but not least, they are Consumer Affairs Accredited.
Why so much recognition from the industry? For starters, they’re always open. You can always reach them no matter what day or time it is. And, when you do, expect a local contractor to be at your home within no more than 24 hours. You don’t even have to get on the phone. You can request a repair directly from their website.
Another reason they’re recognized as the best among the best is their versatility with their home warranty plans. They have four to choose from:
- Appliance Plan: Includes coverage on common, everyday household appliances, such as refrigerators, garage door openers, built-in food processors, dishwashers, and washer and dryers.
- Systems Plan: Covers the replacement or repair of your home’s key systems, such as: plumbing, electrical, heating, air conditioning, and smoke detectors.
- Combo Plan: Get coverage on all of your primary home systems and appliances. Saves you $14 a month if you were to rather purchase the appliance and systems plans separately.
- Build your own plan: Choose only what you want to be covered by selecting 10 or more items from their list of covered items. This way you get the coverage that you care about the most.
Additionally, American Home Shield can also provide coverage on your pool, spa, well pump, and septic system (at additional costs), and can assist you during the moving process by covering your home while it’s listed. If the new owner decides they would like to upgrade service afterwards, it’s an easy switch to do so at closing.
#2: Choice Home Warranty
There are lots of reasons to go with Choice Home Warranty. They are a top rated business according to ConsumerAffairs.com and have an average rating of 4.8 out of 5.
They have a five-star rating from Trust Pilot, and Inc. 5000 has recognized them as one of America’s fastest-growing private companies.
As with the three above home warranty companies, Choice Home Warranty has customer service available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you’ve got a problem, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call them.
They are more than happy to answer any questions about your plan, or, if need be, put in a request for a repair. A licensed, pre-screened, and continuously monitored technician will come to your house usually within one or two business days.
The age of your home, its systems, and its appliances does not matter to Choice Home Warranty. They always cover items that have been properly maintained and were in well-working order when coverage was initiated.
If and when the item in question needs to be replaced but is no longer available on the market, Choice Home Warranty will give you a cash payment of the items replacement cost. Another plus is that you don’t even have to get your home inspected before Choice Home Warranty will begin offering you coverage.
1. Total Plan ($450 a year)
Includes coverage on the following —
- Water Heater
- Garbage Disposal
- Washer and Dryer
- Garage Door Opener
- Ceiling and Exhaust Fans
2. Basic Plan ($378 a year)
Includes coverage on everything mentioned above, EXCEPT:
- Washer and Dryer
Items that can be added at additional cost include:
- Central Vacuum
- Well and Sump Pump
- Limited Roof Leak
- Stand Alone Freezer
- Second Refrigerator
- Septic System
- Septic Pumping
#3: Complete Protection
Complete Protection is another excellent home warranty company. Servicing all but nine states, this A+ Accredited Business is open 24/7 and is almost neck and neck with American Home Shield.
Only slightly more expensive, this once small-scale, family-owned business offers some of the most comprehensive plans available in North America.
They have five plans you can choose from:
- Kitchen/Laundry: $32 a month/ $384 a year — covers your dishwasher, oven, refrigerator, and washer and dryer.
- Heating/Cooling: $34 a month/ $408 a year — covers your furnace, AC, and water heater.
- Basic Built-ins: $40 a month/ $400 a year — Furnace, AC, water heater, dishwasher, and oven.
- Full House: $50 a month/ $600 a year — Furnace, AC, water heater, dishwasher, oven, refrigerator, and washer and dryer.
- Full House Plus: $60 a month/ $720 a year — Includes everything mentioned in the first four plans, but also includes electrical wiring and in-bound water pipes.
What makes Complete Protection stand out even more:
There are a few other things that make Complete Protection stand out from its competitors. For one, CP doesn’t have a deductible. You don’t have to pay any of the approved repair costs when something happens — this includes the initial service call, parts, and labor.
Secondly, CP pays for all preventative maintenance. Other home warranty companies mandate that their customers undergo preventative maintenance on items such as HVAC systems, but they won’t even pay for it. They force their customers to do so!
Thirdly, they cover all of the parts within an appliance. Most companies exclude parts like ice makers or washing racks within dishwashers. CP does not pick and choose which parts it will cover.
Lastly, Complete Protection allows you to choose your own servicer, so if you have a certified contractor with whom you work, you can go to him or her whenever a repair is needed. They do this because they feel it’s important that their customers always be comfortable with the person working in their house.
#4: Total Protect
Customer reviews give Total Protect a 4.6 out of 5 at ConsumerAffairs.com, and the company has been a highly rated accredited business by the Better Business Bureau since 2007. There are a lot of reasons for this.
The big reason is likely their availability to the public. No matter the plan, anyone can file a claim directly on their website, 24/7, 365 days a year, or reach a real, live person over the phone using their toll-free number.
Another reason is likely their affordability. With warranty coverage for twenty appliances and major household systems, many repairs can end up costing only the cost of the chosen deductible. Factor in that most appliance or system repairs can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars to repair, and it’s easy to see that customers come out ahead with Total Protect.
They have 40,000 pre-screened technicians with whom they work, and any repair comes with a 180-day workmanship guarantee. They have three plans for customers to choose from:
- Appliances Plan: Covers washer and dryer, dishwasher, trash compactor, microwave, oven and range exhaust hood, and refrigerator. No inspections are required, and there are no annual aggregate caps.
- Systems Plan: Covers gas lines, electrical lines, breakers and fuse panel, smoke detectors, whole house fan, sump pump, plumbing, toilets, water heater, air conditioning, heating system.
- Combo Plan: Includes everything under the Appliances Plan and the Systems Plan.
Prices do vary depending on zip code and which deductible you choose. If you don’t live right on the coast and are in a relatively moderate climate, you can expect to see prices comparable to the ones listed below.
|$75 Deductible||$100 Deductible||$125 Deductible|
What does a home warranty cover?
Home warranties can cover a whole range of products and systems within your home. You can decide how much you want to spend and determine what items will be covered by your warranty.
Most home warranty companies break down their offerings into good, better, and best options. The good option, and least expensive, is one that covers most if not all of your appliances.
Appliances include things like your microwave, washer and dryer, dishwasher and often a lot more. These are great options for those who are renting or want to spend the least amount of money.
More expensive on an upfront basis are plans that cover home systems. These plans cover the systems within your home. If you’re renting this may not be of concern to you but if you own your home you know that a plumber or electrician can cost a lot more than replacing your refrigerator.
If you’re less concerned with appliances and worried about what keeps your home humming along then you may want to consider a system plan.
The most expensive plans, of course, offer the most coverage. The best plans cover both appliances and systems. While they’re the most expensive they’re also the best value. Covering your appliances and systems together will typically save you around 20% to 30% of your total bill.
Basic plans from most companies will cover the majority of items and systems in your home but don’t cover everything. If you have a pool, for instance, you may have to choose additional coverage. Some companies even allow you to add coverage to cover your homeowners insurance deductible. Combining appliance and system coverage may also include these additions.
How much does a home warranty cost?
Home warranty pricing varies greatly depending on the coverage you choose, the company, and the area in which you live. In general, though, if you’re just covering appliances, expect to pay around $30 a month.
If you’re looking for only system coverage, you’ll probably pay around $35 a month. If you combine your coverage to include both appliances and systems, expect to pay around $45 per month.
Adding things not covered by a typical plan can also increase your monthly bill. If you have an appliance or system that is atypical, it’s possible that it’s not covered by a basic plan. Not everyone has a swimming pool, a septic tank, a whirlpool tub, or a spa.
Check with your individual plan to make sure that all items and systems you want to have covered are actually included. If they aren’t, see if you can add them a la carte.
In addition to your monthly fee, you’ll also need to pay for a service call. This cost can vary greatly. Better companies offering home warranties cost you around $50 to $125 per repair based on the company, the plan, and the item that needs to be fixed. While this may seem like a lot, it’s important to consider the cost of the average repair without a warranty.
So what can you expect to pay without a home warranty?
The average repair cost of a refrigerator is $275 to $325. The igniter on an oven or range may only cost $110 to $200 to repair, but a control board could cost you more than $260. Replacing a rubber gasket on your washer will set you back between $200 to $300. These expenses can quickly add up compared to the fee a home warranty company charges for a visit.
What exactly does a home warranty cover?
There are exclusions to what a home warranty will cover. Unfortunately, no plan is a blank check to have every item in your home replaced. It’s important to mention that these are repair plans and not replacement plans. If your stove came straight out of the 1965 Sears catalog and it breaks, a home warranty company is not going to replace it with a brand new, stainless steel oven.
They’ll fix the issues with your current item but won’t give you a new one.
Pre-existing conditions are not covered either. This one should seem pretty obvious but if one of your appliances breaks you can’t just sign up for coverage and expect to have it fixed.
While most companies will cover unknown pre-existing conditions, you can’t have an appliance covered if you or the company knows that it’s already broken. This is why it’s a good idea to think about purchasing home warranty coverage before your appliances break.
Another important rule to pay attention to?
Most companies impose a 15 to 30 day waiting period before coverage can begin. There are, however, exceptions to this rule. For instance, if you have a home warranty that is ending soon, you may be able to begin on the date your coverage stops.
It’s important to read the fine print of your contract. Each company will have very specific coverage details. While all will most likely cover your refrigerator, not all of them will cover wear and tear on the gasket that seals it. Typically the more expensive the plan, the more it covers but this is not always the case.
What is the process for having an item repaired?
When something breaks, especially if you have a home warranty, you’ll want it fixed as quickly as possible. Going without a microwave for a week or two may be acceptable, but if it’s your refrigerator, you may not be so patient. When an item malfunctions or breaks you’ll need to contact your home warranty company and explain the issue.
Make sure you report the problem as quickly as possible. The faster you make the call, the faster you’ll get an appointment and have your issue resolved. The company will most likely assign an independent contractor to inspect and repair the item. Obviously, system repairs can take longer and be more labor intensive.
For example, replacing a part on your furnace is going to be a lot easier than repairing electrical wiring or plumbing inside your walls. Depending on what is wrong, the contractor may have to order parts or return with specialized equipment. You’ll be required to pay a service fee for each item that you wish to have repaired, but the contractor should ensure that the item returns to working order.
Once you’ve had an appliance or system repaired, that item is covered under a workmanship guarantee. Think of it as a warranty within your warranty. The company guarantees the parts and labor of that particular repair for a specified amount of time. This is usually between 90 to 180 days after the repair. Even if you cancel your plan, the repair will still be covered during that time.
What should you look for in a home warranty company?
A home warranty can save you a lot of hassle and headaches, not to mention money, down the road — as long as you do your homework and think it through. A home warranty covers a lot of things that homeowners or renters insurance does not. Having the peace of mind knowing that costly repairs won’t spring up unexpectedly is a great feeling.
Choosing the right type of coverage for you is the next step. When you think about the type of coverage you want, think about the items in your home that you want to protect.
If you’re just renting, then plumbing and electrical work is not a concern for you. Your renters’ insurance should cover things like theft and fire, but when something breaks that you actually own, you still want to be covered. Choosing an appliance plan is probably the right option for you.
If you live in an older home that you own, a more comprehensive plan may be the right choice for you. While you can feel a certain amount of comfort having had your home inspected prior to the purchase, the unexpected can still occur. Costly maintenance can be avoided as long as you plan ahead.
In the end, the best advice to follow is to read the fine print. Every company that you investigate will have a contract. In that contract, they’ll spell out exactly what they do and do not cover.
They’ll also explain the cost, who will fix your items if they break, and more. Comparing two or more companies can give you a sense that you’ve made the right decision. Always make sure you do your homework.