Top Consumer Choice
Top Consumer Choice
Home warranties cover those unexpected service repairs or replacements that could cost you more than you anticipated. Although there are many home warranty companies, each one offers different home warranty coverage options. Below you'll find key factors to consider as you choose a home warranty service provider to help you find the best home warranty company for you.
When comparing home warranty companies, you will find that there is a wide range in annual fee costs. Some home warranty companies charge one comprehensive, annual fee, while others charge a lower annual fee but add in extra fees throughout the year. Don't assume that one company is a better choice just because it has a lower annual fee.
Take note that some home warranty companies will have different pricing based on your state. When evaluating cost, make sure you are looking at your state-specific cost, not the company's average cost across all states.
Be aware that most home warranty companies charge a trade call service fee every time a technician visits the customer's home, regardless of whether or not the item that needs repairing has been previously looked at. You'll owe a service fee even if the damage or problem isn't covered by your home warranty.
Most often these service fees must be paid at time of service and do not contribute to the repair cost. Failing to provide immediate payment could result in the suspension of the warranty coverage. Keep these in mind if you cannot guarantee the ability to pay repeat service fees, or simply if that is something you don't want to deal with altogether.
It is important to understand the specific coverage offered and any eligibility requirements regarding the condition of your appliances. There are usually two types of coverage plan options, generic overall coverage plans and customizable coverage plans:
Home warranty companies typically have a coverage limit for each covered appliance or system. The coverage limit is the most a company will pay towards covered damage. Note these limits as you review plans by cost and coverage to get an apples-to-apples comparison.
In some cases, customers prefer not to have to go through the hassle of a home inspection because it makes the transaction process a bit more complicated. Home inspections can have additional costs, so some customers prefer to save money at the beginning and go with a company that does not require a home inspection.
However, receiving a home inspection could give you peace of mind and help you know for sure what appliances and systems will be covered in your home. There are benefits to each, so it is important to research and decide which option is best for you.
A large part of home warranty coverage is the customer service and maintenance assistance customers receive from the company. Some warranty companies have faster representatives and technicians that respond quickly to claims and service requests; finding a home warranty company with good customer service and dedicated workers is essential. Ask the questions below as you evaluate home warranty companies.
Home warranty companies don't usually cover all systems and appliances under all circumstances, especially if they have pre-existing conditions or misuse.
Talk with home warranty companies and identify what they do and do not cover, to what extent they cover existing systems and appliances, and whether thier coverage includes normal wear and tear.
You may be more eligible for one home warranty plan over another, so the research on claims and coverage can be essential. Most of the time this information is laid out in easy-to-find sample contracts, but if not, talking with a home warranty representative may be helpful. Don't be afraid to ask your home warranty company questions and get into the details because it could save you a lot of trouble in the future.
Customer reviews offer valuable insight on the customer experience. Pay attention to the cumulative review data like average star ratings and ratio of positive reviews to negative reviews. This data offers a quick snapshot of how well a home warranty company treats its clients, particularly if the company's review count is high.
American Home Shield and Choice Home Warranty have some of the highest review counts on BestCompany.com with over 10,000 reviews. Although most companies listed have fewer, you'll find companies with several thousand or a few hundred. The review data on these companies will still help you gauge the customer experience.
In addition to considering the aggregate data, spend time reading home warranty reviews. Since companies can change over time, you'll get a better read on the company if its reviews are recent. As you read reviews, you'll learn what the company does well and what problems people have encountered with the company.
You won't find a company without negative reviews. However, note the ratio of negative reviews to positive reviews and use the information in negative reviews to decide what questions to ask before you purchase and be aware of potential issues that may arise.
Many potential home warranty buyers are real estate agents wanting to make sure their homebuyers are covered. If this you're a real estate agent, consider what home warranty companies offer such packages and if they meet your needs.
Some home warranty companies also offer real estate agents educational materials for no charge. Having a home warranty can help close a sale, which can be beneficial in a slow housing market.
Understanding the difference between homeowners insurance and home warranties can help you determine if a home warranty is right for you.
Homeowner's insurance is an insurance policy that covers accidental damage done to your home. For example, damage from fire, theft, and some natural disasters.
A home warranty is a service contract that will replace or repair the appliances you have in your home.
American Home Shield is currently the top-rated home warranty company. When searching for a home warranty provider, consumers should look into the company's cost, trade service fee, cancellation fee, length of service contract, repair time, coverage options, and quality of customer reviews. Because it is competitive in these data points, American Home Shield is the top-ranked home warranty company.
Although coverage options vary based on warranty companies, most basic plan options include these major appliances and systems:
And don’t forget, many home warranty companies have customizable plan options, which lets the customer add on specific systems and appliances to already existing plans. Customizable add-ons often include services for swimming pools/hot tubs, septic systems, well pumps, etc. Add-on services vary by warranty company, so check with specific companies to see if the chosen plan covers the options you’re interested in.
Yes, most home warranty companies offer coverage for other housing situations such as rental properties and condominiums. However, the coverage options and requirements may differ from regular home warranties, so be sure to inquire about the details.
Home warranty plans do not typically cover repair costs for water damage. Homeowners insurance is usually what covers situations such as water, fire, and wind-related damage. However, many warranty companies have relationships with companies that handle those hazards, so you could consider talking to a home warranty company about a recommendation for a related company that could assist you.
Prices vary based on the home warranty company and coverage selection, but after researching various home warranty companies, the average cost per year is around $400. However, this does not include the repeat service fees you often have to pay for maintenance calls. Talking with representatives from home warranty companies is the best way to find out exactly what your repair costs, service fees, and overall annual payments will be. Most home warranty company websites will also allow you to fill out a brief form online and receive a general quote that way.
The average contract length for home warranty coverage is one year; however, some warranty companies prefer month-to-month. After contracts expire, most home warranty companies allow you to renew your warranty plan if you want. Especially with companies that require a one-year contract, it is important to be absolutely sure about your decision before signing the contract. Look through the contract details, research the company, and check out the best home warranty companies before being locked into a contract and finalizing your decision. Be aware of the company’s cancellation policies; many companies offer a 30-day money back guarantee if you want to cancel their services.
The most common answer is yes. Most home warranty companies allow you to renew your home warranty after your contract ends. Some companies may be able to automatically renew your coverage. Make note that some home warranty companies may not let you know when your plan is about to expire, so it is up to you to understand your contract and ask the warranty company if it offers coverage renewal. Some warranty companies even allow you to renew your coverage through your online portal on their website.
An important concern potential home warranty purchasers have is whether a certain warranty company has fast and efficient service response times. Although it varies based on the situation, the company, and the availability of service technicians, most service requests are responded to within 24 hours. The service contractor contacts you and schedules a time that works for both of you during normal business hours in the next few days. Although most warranty companies can be contacted 24/7 and you can file a claim online at any time, many of them will not actually provide service to repair or replace a broken system or appliance until normal business hours. Be aware that response times on weekends and holidays will most likely be different and take longer. Lastly, keep in mind that several companies allow you to request services online, eliminating the hassle of lengthy call wait times.
Sign up below to receive a monthly newsletter containing relevant news, resources and expert tips on Home Warranty and other products and services.