What to Look for in a Home Warranty Service

By: Craig Elliott

When you are looking for a home warranty service there are a few things that you need to consider. There are many different home warranties available from a variety of companies. Each of these companies and warranties differs - from company to company and from state to state. Let's look at what you should know before deciding on a home warranty service, so you can be sure you are getting the home warranty that is right for you.

What's covered?

One of the most important things to know when looking at home warranty services is what is covered. This can vary widely with different policies, different states and different companies. You need to know everything that is covered; including your appliances and which appliances are covered. As for the major systems in your home, such as heating, plumbing and electrical, you need to know how much of it is covered, if the labor is covered and to what extent you have coverage. It's important to note that most home warranties cover major appliances only, such as your stove, fridge, dishwasher, washer and dryer but often do not cover smaller appliances such as a trash compactor or garbage disposal. Be sure that you know what is covered on your policy and if there is something that isn't covered, that you discuss adding the additional coverage with your broker before signing for the warranty service. Most often, the following are covered with a home warranty service plan:

  • Air conditioning
  • Heating and furnace
  • Dishwasher
  • Doorbell
  • Water heater
  • Duct work
  • Plumbing and plumbing stoppages inside the home
  • Ceiling fans
  • Electrical systems
  • Oven or range
  • Telephone wiring
  • Garbage disposals (sometimes).

What isn't covered?
You also need to know what is not covered with your home warranty service. Most often the following items are not covered with your home warranty:

  • Outdoor sprinkler systems
  • Faucet repairs
  • Garage door openers
  • Spas
  • Pools
  • Permit fees
  • Hauling away of old appliances
  • Garbage disposals (sometimes)

How could my claim be denied?
There are a few reasons why your home warranty claim could be denied. In most cases, these factors are across the board and the same for most home warranty companies. Reasons your claim and payment could be denied include:

  • Code violations
  • Improper installation
  • Improper maintenance
  • Unusual or excessive wear and tear

For any of these reasons, your home warranty could be 'null and void' and not cover your repairs or replacements if they need to happen.

How does the warranty work?
Once again, in most cases, the following information applies to all home warranty companies. However, you should double check with your home warranty company to find out if they have any different procedures to follow.

1. When an appliance or system stops working, you call the home warranty company.

2. The warranty company calls a provider to fix your appliance or system.

3. The provider calls you to set up an appointment.

4. The provider comes to your home and fixes the problem. If it cannot be fixed, they will contact the home warranty company. If your contract covers replacements, your home warranty company will pay to replace your appliance.

5. You pay a small service fee (which is usually under $100) for the work that has been done.

What is the service fee?
The service fee for home warranties ranges from $30 to $100 and depends on your policy. Be sure to ask your home warranty company what your service fee is. This is the fee that you will have to pay out of pocket each time you have a claim on your home warranty.

Terms and conditions
Always be sure to check out the terms and conditions of the home warranty before signing on the dotted line. This will ensure that you know exactly what you are getting - what is and isn't covered, and if there are any special provisions on your policy that you should be aware of.

How much does it cost?
Of course, you will want to know what the bottom line of the home warranty is - this is a good thing to compare against other home warranties, but be sure that you are comparing similar coverage.

Your broker/agent
Of course, you will need to be sure that your broker and/or agent are legitimate - check with the Better Business Bureau and ensure that they are allowed to transact business in your state. Secondly, your agent or broker should be able to answer any and all questions you may have - if they can't, it might be wise to select a different home warranty company.

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