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February 24th, 2020
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The home warranty industry could use some disruption. If you’ve read our overview of one-star customer complaints for home warranty, you know that many consumers can run into some recurring issues. A stagnant industry lets companies resist change to the detriment of their clients. That’s why an innovative competitor can refresh our expectations for home warranty providers — and that’s where Liberty Home Guard comes in. Based in New York, the company serves 37 states and boasts a network of over 10,000 service technicians. LHG offers an array of main plans with optional add-ons. Sounds like your typical home warranty company, right? Not exactly. Liberty Home Guard is daring to do a few things differently. We’ve talked with the founders of LHG, Benjamin Joseph and David Moreno, about how they run their company and why it makes a difference. LHG will work with you even if your claim isn’t covered Over half of our one-star reviews in the home warranty industry cite denied claims; some warranty providers seek every opportunity to avoid helping you. “We simply offer our customers as much savings as possible, whether a claim is covered or not covered under the policy,” explain Moreno and Joseph via email. “We do not turn our customers away like most other companies, even if a claim is deemed to not be covered. Most other companies do not offer this value-add since they are likely concerned about the overhead and call/work volume that would be correlated with such an offering.” Some warranty companies pepper their fine print with several circumstances for denying a claim, which can lead to false expectations for customers. Conversely, LHG finds reasons to help customers even if their claims are denied. You’ll be assigned a dedicated account manager through Liberty Lots of warranty providers pass you between customer service associates. You spend time repeating your situation to each employee, none of them able to get the full picture. LHG is doing things differently. “In most cases, customers will be assigned a dedicated account manager and an ancillary team to provide customer support,” Joseph and Moreno tell us. “This ensures that we have a strong rapport with and understanding of our customers.” Positive reviewers note that they like having a dedicated support agent who follows up and serves them through the duration of issue. Liberty Home Guard intensively vets its technicians — and treats them well You’ll also hear disgruntled home warranty customers complain that their technicians made the problem worse. To save on costs, some warranty providers contract entry-level technicians who are building their clientele. But the better practice for companies is to vet their technicians and hire the best. “We perform a multivariate analysis before onboarding any technicians,” say Moreno and Joseph. They explain their process, which begins by programmatically analyzing a potential technician’s digital footprint, looking for any legal issues or bad reviews. Then, LHG interviews contractors, assessing their experience and industry knowledge while analyzing their fit. Approved techs will sign a vendor agreement including rules and regulations, one of which being that they must submit their proof of insurance and licensure. And once a technician is on board, they can expect timely compensation: “We pay our technicians same day for their services. . . . We believe that paying technicians promptly — technicians that are by and large small business proprietors — is both the right thing to do and is good business, as it attracts a higher caliber of technician to our network.” LHG makes claim processing easy If you’re worried about confusing phone trees or long wait times, Liberty Home Guard has you covered. “All our representatives are based in the United States,” the LHG founders note. “In addition, while our competitors have wait times that can approach an hour, our wait times are virtually never more than a few minutes. We believe our team is of the highest caliber in the industry, bar none. We heavily leverage technology and have an automated triage approach for claim intake, where we will do our best to help our customers self-resolve issues before charging them deductibles and assigning technicians.” Or, if a phone call isn’t your thing, LHG has you covered, too. You can manage your account online and on the go Liberty Home Guard has a mobile friendly platform to file claims and manage your account. “We view a mobile-friendly (on a browser) platform as the best and most convenient way for users to interact with Liberty Home Guard.” With some warranty providers, you’d only have the option of calling in. Thankfully, Liberty understands that twenty-first century convenience depends on having a range of ways to contact a company: “Customers do respond positively to the option to manage their account online and through their mobile devices. Ultimately, the more intelligent options we can provide our customers, the more likely we are to suit the diverse set of needs and desires that exist across our customer base.” You won’t be left hanging if a technician is on the way Communication between a client, their home warranty company, and the technician sometimes breaks down through the claim process. But Liberty Home Guard has seen this concern with the unhappy customers of other warranty providers, and they’ve created a process to mitigate missed or cancelled tech appointments: “When servicing a claim, we take several added measures to ensure that communication does not break down after a technician is assigned.” Joseph and Moreno explained to us that the LHG team sends SMS and email reminders to clients with contact information for the assigned tech. You aren’t left in the dark wondering who is coming to assess your situation. Do your homework and see if Liberty Home Guard if the right fit for you Both our team at Best Company and the founders of Liberty Home Guard agree that customer reviews are important. “Make sure the company does not have a lot of negative reviews,” warn Moreno and Joseph. But it’s also important that you find a warranty provider that’s licensed: “Even if you are not in a state that requires licensure, ask if the company is licensed in a state that does, and if the company says they are, ask them for their license number or how it can be proven.” This will require a little work on your part, but using these tips to find the right home warranty company for you can go a long way. It's worth studying up on Liberty Home Guard, a company that works to build positive customer experiences and earn your business. Liberty Home Guard is taking an intentional approach to customer service that is setting a new standard for warranty providers.
We have almost 16,000 reviews in our Home Warranty category, but nearly a third of those are 1 star. While this may seem like a staggering amount, it’s not — most of our site’s categories have about a third of their reviews as 1 star. Home Warranty is right with the rest of the pack, or perhaps even a bit lower. But the home warranty industry has its own unique challenges, and these leave some customers wondering if this coverage is worth the cost and the purported “peace of mind.” We’ve compiled our data in an infographic below to give you an idea of what these customer complaints entail; click on the icons in our directory if you’d like to see an in-depth commentary on what this complaint means and how you could avoid your own 1-star home warranty experience. Slow Response Times Claim Denials Customer Service Bad Techs, Cancellation, and Fees *Because we will be reviewing general complaints, all specific company and reviewer names are removed. To better understand a specific company’s feedback, read their reviews. 56% of reviewers complained of slow repair times Your AC breaks on Friday evening in the middle of summer, and you breathe a sigh of relief that your home warranty company has 24/7 customer service. You call in for help. But unfortunately, none of the techs that work through your provider are available on the weekends — you can count on at least a two-day wait. This scenario frustrates over half of 1-star home warranty reviewers. Sometimes miscommunications occur between the warranty provider and the technicians they employ. This could mean the technicians come at a later time than you expected, or not at all. Home warranty companies using contracted technicians can have the drawback of a slow repair time. While warranty providers create policies addressing contractor professionalism and pricing, these policies can be difficult to enforce from a distance. Additionally, some technicians that perform quality work don’t operate through warranty providers. Home warranty companies want to keep costs down, and so a few technicians complain that they use contractors offering the cheapest services. However, this isn't always the case, and it depends on which provider you choose. Here’s what you can do to ensure you’re working with a home warranty company that will give you prompt technicians who provide quality service: Research the companies you're interested in. If you're reading articles like this, you're on the right track. "Do your research," Courtney Keene, the Director of Operations of MyRoofingPal, affirms. "You'll want to read plenty of reviews. Check all of the 2- and 3-star reviews where available. People who leave those ratings tend to be a little more level-headed and analytical rather than emotional in their review." As you've probably guessed from our research, Keene is right; 1-star reviews can sometimes be exaggerated. Consider a home warranty company that lets you choose your own contractor. If timeliness is your biggest priority, you might be able to find a technician that’s on-call 24/7, or a servicer that specializes in the appliances or systems your warranty covers. However, keep in mind that choosing your own contractor will require more responsibility on your end, and home warranty companies that let you pick your own aren’t always able to negotiate rates like they can with in-network servicers. And be careful: some home warranty providers will void your warranty if you use a technician out of their network. You'll want to know if this is an option before you go with a provider. Find a home warranty company with a rigorous pre-screening process for contractors. Get to know what your prospective company looks for in a technician. How many techs are in your area? It’s better to know this before you choose a company; everything about a home warranty is better to know before you need it. Find a warranty provider with an expansive reach. A home warranty company with millions of customers nationwide needs thousands of service technicians. This improves your likelihood of available technicians that specialize in your equipment and are available when you need them. As a bonus, a large customer base indicates a trusted company. Back to Menu 55% of reviewers complained of claim denials The freezer in your garage breaks. While you’re in the process of dumping spoiled food, you call your home warranty company and ask to file a claim. But unfortunately, you didn’t buy coverage for an extra freezer and they can’t approve your request. This isn’t the only scenario where a claim can be denied. Home warranty companies want to ensure they’re only fixing and replacing appliances that truly need it. If an item was defective prior to coverage, or if your item is past a particular threshold of age, these could be grounds to deny your claim. And as this review suggests, your coverage is typically detailed in a long contract. In fact, you can void your warranty by not following building codes, failing to document prior purchases, or causing “unusual wear and tear” to an appliance. That’s why it’s important to mind your contract. You want your to put your home warranty to work when you need it, so here’s what you need to know about filing claims: Get professional help filing a claim. You have to be careful with your words when filing a claim. "Without the help of an experienced, trained professional, a claimant is likely to stick their proverbial foot in their mouth by using language that voids the warranty," says R. J. D'Angelo, a project manager for JWE Remodling and Roofing. D'Angelo explains that 70 percent of his company's work addresses home warranty and homeowners insurance claims, and he recommends legal counsel or a licensed public insurance adjuster to comb over your claim. As an example of accidentally voiding your warranty, he mentions, "Most warranties and insurance policies have exclusions for floods, but most water damage to homes are caused not by floods but by things like burst pipes or storm-damaged roof leaks, which are covered perils. But if the homeowner files a claim and says, 'Water was flooding into my house,' then it’s a clear 'gotcha' for the warranty provider or insurer." Leave a paper trail. If you have coverage questions before signing up for a home warranty company, call and ask. But don’t take a verbal confirmation at face value — ask the customer service rep where you can find that information in your contract. Your agreements should be documented in writing. Use a home inspection. Some home warranty companies advertise no home inspection as an incentive to select them. While this means less hassle initially, a home warranty company then has difficulty verifying if your damaged item was damaged before your contract. A home inspection can solve this, and several good home warranty companies will look at your home inspection report to determine which of your systems are eligible for full coverage based on their age and damage when you signed the contract. "Usually the warranty company will say that something is pre-existing so they don’t have to repair or replace whatever went wrong," says Mary Burak, a real estate professional with over 30 years of experience. "That’s when the home inspection report becomes extremely valuable. At that point, I usually have the homeowner, or myself, take the issue up with one of the heads of the warranty company . . . a decision maker. Problem solved . . . usually!" Get extra coverage. Your AC may be new and you don’t think it will break, but if it does and it isn’t covered by your plan, you’ll wish you’d opted for that additional coverage. Know what a home warranty company will and won’t cover under a basic plan. Sometimes providers will be finicky about their services; you may only receive coverage for a part of a system, but not the whole item. If you have the extras, get coverage for the extras; there are home warranty companies that will cover everything from your trash compactor to your doorbell. Read also: What Can Void Your Home Warranty? Back to Menu 36% of reviewers complained of poor customer service The complaint of poor customer service is a timeless classic. Check out some of our other review analyses and you’ll see that 1-star reviewers are fed up with customer support across the board. Here’s what poor customer service means for home warranty: If you request help by phone, like many other insurance and finance companies, you might expect long wait times, a complicated phone tree, or frustrating automated responses. But this doesn’t have to be your experience. You can avoid a headache from customer support with these tips: Test a call before choosing a company. See how long it takes you to get through to someone at your prospective company. Ask them questions. Do they seem knowledgeable? Are they helpful? If you’re already confused by a warranty provider’s customer service phone tree, imagine how much more frustrating it will be when your washing machine is flooding your laundry room. Choose a company that offers an online claims process. Maybe you don’t want to make a phone call at all. Some home warranty companies give you the option to file online. This might lead to a delay in scheduling a technician, but it can also mean less stress and time wasted on your part. Don't give up. "I speak with the warranty companies about customer service," explains Bruce, a realtor in Atlanta. "Like most insurance companies, I think they want to make it so difficult you just give up." He describes a time when his double oven went out before Thanksgiving. While his warranty provider delivered a Thanksgiving dinner and a gas grill to make up for delayed repairs, a new oven wasn't approved until January after a couple attempts to repair his old one. Bruce's persistence was what got a new oven for his home. Back to Menu 26% cited technician issues; 10% cited cancellation issues; 8% complained of added fees A minority of 1-star reviews complained about issues with a technician, cancellation problems, or hidden fees. Technician issues included technicians that weren’t knowledgeable, acted unprofessionally, or made the problem worse. This could, in part, be due to the fact that they’re independent contractors, and they can sometimes be newbies who accept the low compensation that some home warranty companies offer. It's important to get to know your local technicians and contractors in conjunction with your prospective home warranty provider before you make a selection. Warranty providers typically include the duration of coverage in their contract. If you want to cancel before your contract is complete, that will probably land you a cancellation fee. But it’s also important to give an advance warning that you’d like to cancel before a contract’s renewal date. Like an insurance company, a home warranty company won’t be too flexible about cancellation and renewal. You may also have to issue a physical letter to request termination. This could seem like a hassle, but having a copy of this for your own records and a mailing certificate could protect you from cancellation issues. Then, some home warranties companies may give you a physical letter acknowledging the cancellation of your policy. While all this paper in an increasingly paperless world might seem wasteful, it could keep you from being in the 10 percent of 1-star reviewers who aren’t pleased with their cancellation process. Eight percent of 1-star reviews complained of added fees. Some claim they were charged a service fee when no technician arrived, others were not aware a service fee would be charged. And others still were surprised by the cancellation fees mentioned above. For most of these hiccups, reading your contract is again the solution. Back to Menu The takeaway Online reviews are a helpful tool in gauging customer perspectives, and anyone researching a company should be sure to check out what its clients are saying. Reviews keep companies accountable if they've been irresponsible with consumers' time and money. "The best answer . . . is to check reviews from unbiased review sites," Benjamin Joseph, the founder of Liberty Home Guard, explains. "Customers want to see genuine feedback from like users." But also remember that it's up to you to do your research on your potential contract, coverage, and the competition of your prospective company. Some 1-star reviewers didn't do their part, and that's why they're unhappy. Check our home warranty company reviews to find out more information about which service may be right for you.
Pleasant Grove, UT - January 7, 2019 - Landmark Home Warranty has been named the 2019 Consumer's Choice Award recipient in the home warranty industry by BestCompany.com, an independent consumer review site. Landmark Home Warranty was selected to receive this recognition from among 49 other home warranty companies based on a comprehensive market index score and the feedback of verified customers through reviews. "We wish to recognize Landmark Home Warranty with the Consumer’s Choice Award for 2019. They've earned it,” said BestCompany.com CEO Landon Taylor. “Our hope is that this recognition will highlight a company that is doing business the right way by taking care of its customers and always looking for ways in which it can improve." Landmark Home Warranty distinguished itself from its competitors by providing customizable warranty plans and comprehensive homeowner support, as well as including pest control services in each of its packages. That, combined with an extremely high customer review score of 4.2 out of 5 based on more than 2,200 real customer reviews, propelled Landmark Home Warranty to an impressive overall score of 9.4 out of 10, the highest in the industry. To read consumer reviews for the top-rated home warranty provider, view Landmark Home Warranty’s profile on bestcompany.com. For additional information and comparisons, access the full list of home warranty companies considered for this award, as well as their respective scores and customer reviews. About Landmark Home Warranty A leader in the home warranty industry, Landmark Home Warranty was founded in 2004 and protects more than 70,000 homeowners each year. The company currently offers comprehensive home warranty services for residential properties in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Utah, and is working to expand its operations nationwide. In each region Landmark Home Warranty operates, it has local representatives and independent licensed contractors to deliver excellent service and fulfill customer needs. Visit the company’s website to learn more about Landmark Home Warranty. About BestCompany.com BestCompany.com ranks and reviews companies across hundreds of different industries. Unlike many other review sites, companies listed on BestCompany.com cannot buy their position, nor is a company’s ranking manipulated or inflated by BestCompany.com for financial gain. Instead, a company’s ranking is based on BestCompany.com’s proprietary Best Rank algorithm, which is powered by verified customer reviews and an objective set of ranking criteria. For more information on how BestCompany.com scores and ranks companies, please visit the How We Rank page.
It's easy to assume that most home warranty companies offer the same quality of services to be competitive in the industry. However, it comes down to the fine print in your contract and the company's history and reputation of delivering on its commitments. As you evaluate home warranties and home warranty companies, ask the following 10 questions: What does the home warranty cover? What are the exclusions and limitations? How does coverage compare to competitors? Has the company been sued for unethical business practices? What customer support does the company offer? How does the pricing compare to competitors? What do customer reviews say about the company? How long is the contract? What's the cancellation policy? What's the renewal process? 1. What does the home warranty cover? The first thing you need to understand is the coverage offered by the home warranty provider. You'll often find similarities in covered appliances and systems across companies, like heating and air conditioning systems, refrigerators, dishwashers, and more. Most home warranty providers also offer add-on coverage options like pool or spa coverage so clients can customize their plans to meet their needs. However, you'll want to review the coverage terms to understand what you're getting. To fully understand the coverage, you'll need to review a sample contract at minimum. Most home warranty companies only cover specific circumstances and certain parts or components. Some companies will offer additional service alongside their home warranty plans. These additional services can include annual tune-ups for heating and air conditioning systems or some pest control services. 2. What are the exclusions and limitations? Exclusions and limitations are included in most home warranty contracts. Specifics vary by company, so it's important to review yours before you make a purchase. Common exclusions include Pre-existing conditions Poor maintenance Certain parts and components Some companies offer coverage for unknowable pre-existing conditions or allow you to add coverage for pre-existing conditions at an additional cost. You should also note what the contract says about the company's obligations when it comes to replacing parts or appliances. Most companies focus on matching efficiency, so they won't match size, brand, or color. Look for information about a waiting period, too. Home warranty companies often have a 30-day waiting period before your coverage starts. Some home warranty companies may waive the waiting period if you can demonstrate consistent, prior coverage. 3. How does coverage compare to competitor offerings? As you look at companies, consider what kind of coverage you want. Some home warranty companies offer an appliance-only, a systems-only, or a full coverage plan. Other home warranty companies offer tiered plans that offer coverage for both home systems and appliances, though the number of included items varies. Some home warranty companies offer additional services, like pest control with their plans. Most home warranty plans are customizable, which means you can add coverage for more things to your plan. Pool or spa coverage is a common option. 4. Has the company been sued for unethical business practices? Some home warranty companies become involved in legal disputes as a result of bad business practice. While you can ask company representatives about current or past lawsuits, you'll have better luck if you do the research yourself. Consider any lawsuit involving the company carefully. If you see a large number of similar lawsuits, that's a definite red flag. 5. What customer support does the company offer? The most important aspect of customer support to review is the company's claims process. The cost-savings and ability to file claims is what you're paying for, so you need to know that the home warranty company will be there for you when you need it. Most home warranty companies have the same essential claims processes: You file a claim online or over the phone. The company responds to your claim within a certain timeframe, typically within one to two business days. There are usually expedited responses for emergency circumstances, as defined by the company. If your claim is accepted, you'll be assigned a contractor from the company's network who will then contact you to schedule an appointment. Coverage levels and timelines for replacements or larger repairs vary. For more details on these, you'll need to talk to a company representative and read customer reviews to understand more about the claims process, timing, and coverage levels. 6. How does the pricing compare to competitors? Sometimes, companies provide you more value at a slightly higher price than if you go with the cheapest option. Try not to default to the cheapest option without first comparing the prices with the options of other home warranty plans. Typical monthly prices vary depending on what home systems and appliances are covered by your plan. For plans that only cover appliances, prices can range between $230 and $600 annually, though it will vary depending on your home size and coverage specifics. Plans that cover only systems, generally fall between $240 and $720. Again, these vary depending on your home size and the contract's specific coverage. Some of the cheaper plans may not cover as many things as the more expensive ones do. If your plan combines coverage for systems and appliances, rates can fall between $375 and $1,500 depending on your plan's specific coverage and the size of your home. Some home warranty companies offer tiered plans that offer coverage for a different number of systems and appliances, so some of these plans are on the cheaper end. More comprehensive plans will be more expensive. Service fees typically range between $60 and $125 per visit, with most companies charging around $75 per visit. Some companies allow you to choose your service fee, though this typically affects your contract fee. The lower your service fee, the higher your contract fee and vice versa. Note the differences in the contract fees with each service fee amount. If there are huge differences, you may want to choose another company. 7. What do customer reviews say about the company? No company is perfect. You need to find out what customers are saying about each company — this should be your number one resource for choosing a company. Try reading as many home warranty reviews as possible. Think of your search for home warranty coverage as an interview. Make each company sell their service to you. You need to make them work for it. Companies that admit deficiency are more likely to be honest than ones who claim to be the best in every aspect of their business; every company has a flaw. The trick is to find which one suits you best. 8. How long is the contract? You need to understand the length of the contract you're buying. Most sample contracts last 12 months. Sometimes this 12 months includes a 30-day waiting period, which means you'll have 11 months of coverage. Some companies address this concern by offering 13-month contracts at the same rate, so you don't have to pay for the waiting period. You can also find companies that offer contracts as long as five years at lower monthly or annual rates. This contract length is nice if you're getting the service you need. However, if you need to get out of the contract, a longer contract can be trickier to manage. However long your contract, you need to understand how long you'll be paying a contract fee to ensure that it fits your budget. 9. What's the cancellation policy? Even though you probably don't plan to cancel a subscription when you buy it, it's smart to understand the process and terms of cancellation. Most home warranty companies offer a full refund if you cancel within the first 30 days and have not made a claim. Generally speaking, you'll receive a prorated refund of your contract fees if you cancel after 30 days or have made a claim. Home warranty companies will subtract the costs of services rendered and a cancellation fee from your refund. In some cases, this process means that you'll need to pay the home warranty company to cancel. Other home warranty companies just take the lesser of the combined cancellation fee and services rendered or the rest of the contract fee for the term. 10. What's the renewal process? Along with understanding how cancellation works, note whether or not your home warranty plan automatically renews. Many home warranty companies will automatically renew your contract at their option. You should receive notice of any new terms and rates before the plan renews. If you don't want to renew, you need to understand the process for opting out. These processes vary by company. You may need to give the company a certain amount of advance notice or provide written notice of your plan not to renew.
It’s no secret home warranties do not have a good reputation. However, that reputation does not change the fact that there are reliable, reputable home warranty companies out there; you just have to know what to look for. Not all companies are attempting home warranty scams. There are many details to take into consideration before deciding if a home warranty company is worthy of your business, but don’t worry; we’ve created a comprehensive guide for you to follow and help you find the right home warranty company for you, all the while avoiding the scams. Look for top-rated home warranty companies in your area Before you spend a great deal of time researching home warranty companies, you want to make sure they 1) service your area 2) are top-rated in the home warranty industry. You don't want to waste your time researching a company that doesn't service your area and/or is low-rated with an overwhelming amount of bad reviews. How do I find top-rated home warranty companies? Go to a trusted consumer review site like BestCompany.com and see which home warranty companies in your area have the best rankings. Best Company makes it simple by having state filtering already set up without you having to do anything. When you visit the home warranty page, BestCompany’s website will automatically know from your browser where you are located and will immediately filter the top home warranty companies to reflect ones that are near you. Or, if you want a list of home warranty companies in a different state, you can filter it manually. You can also choose if you want the results filtered by Top Ranked companies or by a company's Star Rating. On BestCompany.com, we rank home warranty companies on a variety of different data points. User reviews make up 75% of the company's score, and company details, such as fees, contract length, and time in business make up 25% of their score. Here's the exact breakdown: 1. User Review Index Score (75% of Overall Score): Star Rating of Reviews (52.5%) – The average 1-5 star score of a company’s published consumer reviews. Number of Reviews (17.5%) – The total number of reviews that have been published about a company. Responsiveness to Reviews (5%) – A company’s responsiveness rate to its consumer’s reviews that have a star rating score of 3 or lower. 2. Market Index Score (25% of Overall Score): Recurring Fees (5%) – The affordability of any fee a company charges its customers on a recurring basis. One-Time Fees (5%) – The affordability of a company's up-front or onetime fees it charges its customers. Contract or Warranty Length (5%) – The length or term of the contract/warranty to which a company requires/offers its customers to consent upon purchase of the company's product and/or service. Brand Search Volume (2.5%) – The number of online search queries made by consumers that contain the company's brand name. Time in Business (2.5%) – The number of years that a company has provided its products and/or services to consumers. Verification of Data (5%) – If the company has "claimed" its profile on Best Company.com and verified that the information regarding the company is factually accurate. As you can see, consumer reviews make up the majority of the score because we believe consumer satisfaction is the best way to determine a company's credibility. This is also one of the quickest way to see if a home warranty company is a scam or not. Read through the company's consumer reviews Consumer reviews are the most important thing to look into when considering a company, especially a home warranty company. Because home warranty companies are known for scamming and being untrustworthy, you need to find companies that have positive reviews that verify the home warranty is not a scam. Experienced Home Inspector, Michael Marlow, gives us this advice when looking into reviews: “Be forewarned that many people only write a review to complain, so when reading reviews, look for the story behind what is written. Most review complaints are from homeowners that were denied claims for uncovered issues, or from preexisting condition exclusions.” Try to gather the facts in reviews, rather than just focusing on the emotion intertwined in them. You also need to ensure the consumer reviews you are reading are legitimate. Many companies, regardless of the industry they’re in, will fake their consumer reviews to make it look like they are a good company when in reality, they really aren’t. To avoid this, only visit consumer review sites with verified reviews and unbiased data. Here at BestCompany, all reviews are verified to ensure authenticity and that they are not forged from the company itself. Look at a company's overall rating in the industry as well as their star rating from consumer reviews. You can also compare a home warranty company against the top-ranked home warranty company on BestCompany. This will allow you to show the company highlights side by side and determine which business you are most interested in researching further. For example, this is TotalProtect compared side by side to our top-ranking company, Landmark Home Warranty. Research contracts in-depth before committing People are quick to label anything as a home warranty scam when it comes to tricky wording in contracts. You should be wary of companies that hide loopholes within their contracts. However, homeowners need to understand that home warranty plans can’t cover everything—this would quickly put any warranty company (not just home warranty companies) out of business. A common disappointment with home warranties is the “pre-existing condition” loophole that is laid out in the terms and conditions. Some companies tend to cover themselves in cases of large expenses by claiming that the appliance or system in question had a pre-existing condition—this defeats the purpose of home warranties. To avoid this, make it a point to ask potential home warranty providers in which specific cases the pre-existing condition applies. You should also be analyzing the terms and conditions for such loopholes. This is extremely tedious but will save you heartache and money in the end. Also, Identify and list the most vital home systems and appliances you would like covered in your home warranty plan. Use this list when you deal with home warranty companies and ask company representatives to show you where in the contract these items are discussed. This will allow you to understand exactly what the terms are in regards to each of those systems and appliances. Be extremely meticulous when it comes to reading the contract and talking to representatives so as not to miss a crucial detail. Check if any cases have been made against the home warranty company It’s important to look into a company’s legal history to see if any cases have been made against the company. Marlow explains that “All home warranty companies are supposed to register with the states they do business in. Normally this is with the department that regulates insurance, but it may be different in some states.” Check if the home warranty is registered in your state and then go further by researching its legal history. Look for any lawsuits and other red flags that would indicate the home warranty company has a negative legal history. Determine replacement times and quality of customer service Many bad quality home warranty companies delay repairs as long as possible to lengthen the process and save money. Even if you desperately need a replacement, they may only “repair” the system or appliance and then it’ll break again soon after. You want to make sure they don’t try to do everything they can to get out of replacing something, especially larger systems, such as an air conditioner. To avoid this common home warranty scam, check with past customers, either through word of mouth or through consumer reviews, and determine what the company’s reputation is for customer service and repair time. If it’s lengthy and the company doesn’t have a guaranteed response time, they could likely be a scam. Look for available online claims With nearly everything being online nowadays, online claims may be something you need in a home warranty provider. Home warranty companies that have online claims guarantee a level of convenience because you don’t have to spend time talking to customer service and waiting in a long phone line. However, just because a company has an online claims process, that does not mean their response time is quick. Still make sure to check their repair time and their customer service reputation. The better the claim process, the more likely the warranty company is not a scam. Pay attention to customer service hours In addition to having quality customer service, having customer service available 24/7 is also a sign of a quality home warranty company. 24/7 customer service also gives you peace of mind that you never have to be left without help, even if it’s 3:00 AM in the dead of Winter. Home warranty providers that are recognized and reputable companies often have customer service available at all times so as to always have people available to help customers. See if a company has quality contractors—or opt for a company that gives you the option to appoint your own A large part of a home warranty is the contractor that comes to your home to fix or replace any damaged systems or appliances. Whether or not it is a quality contractor will likely determine your satisfaction with your home warranty. Check consumer reviews and talk to home warranty companies about their contractors. Ensure they are quality servicemen. There are also home warranty companies that allow you to select your own contractors and the company will reimburse you for the charge. This is convenient for people who already have contractors they trust and want to do business with. If this is the case, look for companies that allow this. Marlow says home warranty companies that allow homeowners to select their service contractors are the best to do business with. “One of the biggest complaints we hear is about the incompetent contractor that was sent by the warranty company or the long wait to get someone out. The best companies give you the option of picking your own contractor and being reimbursed for the covered expenses. This allows you to get your regular service provider out and have them out on your schedule.” Consider a company's time in business Although time in business isn’t the main determiner of whether or not a home warranty is a scam or not, it is definitely something to consider. If a home warranty company is fairly new and doesn’t have a large number of reviews and customer testimonials, you won’t know if you can trust that company or not. You also don’t know how experienced that company is in the home warranty business. They may have previous experience or they may not know much at all. Talk to your home warranty company about their history and check out their “About Us” page on their website. This will tell you a little bit about their experience will likely help you determine if you trust them with your business. Determine if the company has customizable coverage—and if that’s something you’re interested in This isn’t always the case, but customizable coverage is typically a sign that a home warranty company is not a scam. It demonstrates to consumers that the company is flexible and is interested in best serving individual customers’ needs. Talk to home warranty providers and see if they have warranty plan options that work for you. If the company doesn’t cover what you need and they are not willing to budge to accommodate you, they’re likely not the company for you. Beware of prices that are too good to be true This isn’t just advice for avoiding home warranty scams; It’s advice for avoiding all scams. Always be cautious when a company or individual tries to get you to “act fast” or offers you a price that is too good to be true. In many cases, a company will advertise cheap prices for their most basic home warranty plan that likely will not cover everything you would like it too. Purchasing without the proper research could leave you with a bill and a hefty long-term contract and the improper coverage for your systems and appliances. Look through all home warranty packages to ensure you are selecting the one that works best for you. Also note, many home warranty companies upsell their premium packages. Only consider paying for extra protection if your circumstance meets two requirements: 1) you have costly home appliances or systems, and 2) you are absolutely certain that the company is not overselling its premium warranty plan. How much should a home warranty cost? This will vary based on your specific needs. The average home warranty cost ranges between $350 and $600. Basic coverage should be on the lower end and more extensive coverage should be on the higher end. The average trade service fee for a home warranty is between $50 and $100. Most often, home warranty companies will allow you to select a cheaper service fee if you pay a larger annual fee and vice versa. Make sure the home warranty company has a reasonable service fee and it’s a bonus if it’s flexible with a variety of warranty plans. What is the home warranty contract length? Most home warranty contracts last the duration of one year. If a home warranty company requires a great deal more than that, it could be possible it is a home warranty scam. You don’t want to be locked into a contract longer than 12 months in case something goes wrong or you don’t end up liking the company. Is there a cancellation fee? Most home warranty companies don’t require you to pay a cancellation fee in the case that you terminate coverage. If a company notes an expensive cancellation fee, this is a sign of a home warranty scam. Make sure to research the cancellation terms and if it is legitimate or if the company is attempting to lock customers in a deceiving way. Is a home inspection required? Quite often, no home inspection is advertised as a positive for a home warranty company. However, this is how you would know if there was a pre-existing condition on any of your home’s systems and appliances. Without knowing, appliances and systems may not be covered if they are a certain age. A home warranty company could refuse to repair or replace it because it wasn’t properly documented beforehand. Consider getting a home inspection to avoid this difficulty. It will ensure more transparency within your policy and less likeliness that you’ll get scammed. Marlow goes further in depth of why a home inspection is important. You should look for a company that will cover the appliances that you have, regardless of age. You should also ask what their policy is on preexisting conditions. Some of the better companies will take your home inspection report and use that to determine if a system was operational at the time you purchased the house. This is what you should look for to avoid the company being able to duck paying out any claims. Don't skip regular system and appliance maintenance Having a home warranty doesn’t mean you can skip your home appliance and system maintenance. Not properly taking care of your appliances and systems could show misuse to your home warranty company and they could opt out of fixing or replacing such items. Make sure you regularly check all systems and appliances and do any necessary maintenance to ensure no lapse in your home warranty coverage. Real home warranty experiences Homeowner, Carol Gee, explains her experience with a home warranty and how to avoid the scams. When we purchased our first home 27 years ago (prior to that my military spouse and I had lived 17 of our 20 years in service in base housing), we bought this lovely older home. At the closing, the sellers gave us American Home Shield for 1 year. We didn't know what this was until they told us it was because the cooktop and other appliances, while in good condition, were old. After the first couple of years, we were determining whether we really needed this as it was kind of expensive. About a month before we were to renew it for the following year, I went into my laundry room and thought I needed a boat. The hot water heater had died. I immediately called the company and they told my husband how to cut off the water to it, then took down my info. The next day a repairman came out, replaced it, and hauled the old one away. However, before writing a check to renew [the home warranty], I called several friends to see if they had a warranty and who with. Those who did had AHS. They had always had good things to say about them. I already knew the company had been in business since the early 70s which I liked. We had used them a couple times prior, so hurriedly I wrote my check to renew. In order to avoid [bad home warranty companies], I try to use services based off of references from folks I know. In turn, I happily refer good companies to those I know. "A good company to me is one you can depend on to offer continued good service. Others who take your money and fail to provide the services they offer are scams." Experienced Home Inspector, Michael Marlow, has some last advice for us. Look for a company that will cover the majority of the house systems without charging extra for every little thing that most houses have. Some of the common things to charge extra for are multiple HVAC systems, water heaters, or kitchen appliances, washer/dryer, underground sewer lines, Icemakers in the refrigerator, and termite treatments. "Make sure that big-ticket items like roof leaks are covered in the basic policy." With 27 years of full-time experience as a real estate broker, Jerry Grodesky has some advice for anyone looking into home warranty coverage. In the past, the biggest problem with warranty companies was that they prorated problems based on age. Hence, one could have a leaking hot water heater the day after closing, and because it was 12 years old, the buyer would get $1.00 from the warranty. It made many people upset. While many warranties now have better ways to fix or replace problems, there still may be a cost like $70 to have a contractor inspect the problem first. "I would caution every [home] warranty buyer to fully review what is covered and the additional costs for adding areas of interest beyond the general warranty." Is a home warranty worth it? If you’ve budgeted really well to cover home emergencies and improvements, a home warranty may not be necessary for you. However, if you haven’t budgeted for extensive home emergencies, then a home warranty could save you money and you likely wouldn’t be asking yourself “is a home warranty worth it?” It would be clear in your money saved that it most certainly is. Also, if you have an older home, your appliances are likely older and will need more repairs and replacements. Paying the yearly cost and service fee is going to cost you a great deal less than having to pay full price for a repair or replacement. Here is the average cost of replacement for common household appliances and systems. The data is from landmarkhw.com. As you can see, replacements are costly, and those numbers are based on the lower end of estimated replacement costs. To know how often they need to be replaced, here is the average lifespan of each of the above household systems and appliances. The data is from landmarkhw.com. The majority of these household systems and appliances last nearly 10 years. However, unless you have a brand new home, most of them are likely aged and will need replacing soon enough. This is where a home warranty could save you ample amounts of money. The Bottom Line If you have a quality home warranty company you can count on, you can have peace of mind knowing the systems and appliances in your home are covered and you won’t have to be scrambling if something breaks or malfunctions at an inopportune time. Home warranties are there to ease the stress on you and your wallet. No matter where you look, you will always encounter home warranty companies that will try to make money off of other people’s oversight and attempt to practice home warranty scams. Rest assured that there are many legitimate home warranty companies that are ready to help you when you’re in need and won’t take advantage of you. You have the right and obligation to be irritatingly inquisitive when dealing with home warranty providers and now you know everything you need to ask and look for when researching companies. If you’re properly researching home warranty companies, home warranty plans, and asking the right questions, you’re sure to avoid home warranty scams and find the best home warranty company that fits your circumstances.