Home is a precious asset that needs proper attention. Caring for your home is obviously essential, and there aren’t to explain it. The thing is that time passes, and accidents happen. Appliances get old and more prompt to be broken. Having a home warranty with a reliable company assists in recovering from such damages quickly.
Home warrants make a simple proposition: you’ll get immediate assistance to repair appliances and home systems that get broken down unexpectedly in exchange for an annual fee. Wouldn’t it be the same if you called the technician yourself to fix it? Well, you would have to search for technicians yourself and pay them more than if you had a home warranty. Homeowners want to lower home maintenance costs, but finding appliances is not feasible. Ranges, dishwashers, microwaves, and refrigerators, which are indispensable on a day-to-day basis, will break down one day. Repairing them at once is a must, and home warranties are helpful, but how do you select the right company? The US market in 2021 has many companies offering home warranties. It’s advisable to weigh up your options based on a few factors such as coverage, price, and limitations, for which we’ll go more in-depth below. Don’t let those online and TV ads trick you into buying a home warranty without going through these critical points. Remember that home warranties cover several cases when home systems or appliances break down but shouldn’t be mistaken with homeowners insurance. Expensive home warranties may replace irreparable items, but that’s how far they go.
What to Keep in Mind while Selecting a Home Warranty Company?
With so many home warranty providers in the industry, selecting the right one requires proper research. There’s no on-sizes-fits-all option since everyone wants a warranty covering the appliances or systems used the most. However, here are some main characteristics all companies share that are worth knowing before making a buying decision:
- The deductible/service call fee. The moment an appliance breaks down, you have to contact the home warranty provider through the phone or online forms. Depending on the distance, a licensed repairer will visit you within a period after being notified by the company, and you’ll be charged a service call fee or deductible for each repairer visit. Even though some companies don’t have a service call fee, most do. Numbers vary throughout providers, but the typical costs start from $75-$125.
- The process of getting a professional repairer. Speed is a practical aspect for which homeowners worry, and not without reason. Usually, when the company receives a complaint, it starts searching for available professionals in the network. They may work with professionals located far away who take time to arrive. No one prefers to wait to repair an essential home appliance. Check online reviews of these companies to see whether contractors are punctual and ask for the average waiting time.
- Coverage limitations. Not all items share the exact repair costs. Certain appliances have high repair costs, for which you might not have been prepared after calling a professional. Keep noted the coverage price limits that your warranties include. Have a clear list of appliance types and brands that are covered in your contract, together with their pricing, to avoid misunderstandings and frustration.
- Replacement coverage. Warranty companies provide their customers with multiple plan options based on their services. Besides knowing what items are covered and under what price limits, it is equally important to know what happens in irreparable appliances. Does the plan selected include their replacement, or is this service part of a more expensive plan?
- Coverage upgrade/selection flexibility. Plans come with a pre-made list of items included in the coverage. Regardless of the length of these lists, not all appliances in your home might be included there. The ideal solution has the option to add items on your own. If provided with this option, remember to ask for a coverage limit increase and upgrades like preventive maintenance.
Pay Attention To What Plans Cover
When shopping for an appropriate home warranty, coverage comes first. No one can suggest the ideal security without knowing your home items. Therefore, you should prepare a list of the contract appliances and systems you want to be covered. Remember that these must be items that break down or tear under normal circumstances and require repair or replacement. Three features of all these items:
- Indispensable for practical, aesthetic, or functional home activities
- Functional but overused and near their lifespan limits
- High replacement or repair costs (such as HVAC systems).
Warranty companies have different coverage plans because they don’t share the same specialization, size, market segments, location, and pricing features. Go for the company that covers all your appliances and matches these traits. Home warranties can be a lifesaver when an appliance or home system breaks down and requires immediate servicing, replacement, or a quick repair, especially if tight financial situations make it impossible to discard the item and purchase a new one. We’re speaking of old appliances or items whose warranty from the manufacturer has expired long ago. For instance, the refrigerator bought eight years ago isn’t cooling correctly anymore, and you’re shopping daily to keep food on the table. Why wait until you have enough budget to fix it or purchase another when a home warranty pays for its recovery at a minimal expense? The warranty coverage depends on multiple factors, but almost all companies share many appliances and systems that they all cover. Data from the National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA) provides these lists: Types of Systems Covered by Regular Home Warranty Coverage:
- Water Heating
- Electrical systems
- Central vacuums
- Interior plumbing, etc.
Types of Appliances Covered by Regular Home Warranty Coverage:
- Air conditioner
- Wall ovens
- Spa equipment (optional)
- Built-in microwaves
- Garbage disposal
- Cooktop, oven, or range
- Pool/spas/saltwater pools (optional)
- Attic fans, etc.
Coverage plans can be categorized into three ways: specific, optional, and robust programs. As the names imply, they start by covering appliances based on necessity. These are the types of plans you should expect to find in-home warranty companies (with different naming).
Expect coverage of the primary home systems, such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), and electrical or interior plumbing. Homeowners find these useful for covering only specific systems or appliances since similar plans exist for devices. Those appliances with expired warrants from the manufacturer can be repaired for less.
Location causes concerns over other systems not found in standard home warranties. Systems such as well pumps, septic systems, or smoke detectors are some examples of optional coverage you might need for your property. Another case to pay attention to is having two more appliances of the same type. For example, having two refrigerators requires an optional added coverage because the regular one covers only the kitchen refrigerator.
What if you want everything covered? These plans are expensive but leave no appliance or system uncovered. These include trash compactors, jetted bathtub pumps and motors, ceiling fans, and free-standing ice machines. Robust plans cover all devices under your possessions. Furthermore, some include re-keying and pest or roof control coverage.
Tips for Selecting a Home Warranty with the Right Coverage Features
Provide the candidate companies with a list of the conditions, age of your appliances & systems, and previous services. This way, you will see which company covers all the items you need. During the process, remove from your lists new things that are still covered by manufacturers’ warranties, as extra coverage is unnecessary here. Instead, be attentive to applying these five experts suggest while choosing a home warranty. Differentiate between a home warranty and homeowners insurance Buyers and homeowners mistake these two often, but they’re entirely different. Insurance covers the structure of your property from natural phenomena, fire, bad weather, and fire or liability claims. If clothes, furniture, or physical compartments (rooms, garage, etc.) get damaged from covered perils, homeowners insurance rebuilds or compensates the owner. Home warranties, seemingly similar, cover only the repair costs for appliances or home systems damaged due to natural wear or tear. However, home warranties don’t cover damages from improper appliance installations or pre-existing conditions and rust. Estimate the need for a home warranty Before comparing and considering different home warranty providers, sit down and think how much a warranty would be helpful. If you plan on staying only for vacations in that property, it doesn’t make much sense to spend on a home warranty. Another scenario is when all the appliances are brand new and covered with a warranty from the manufacturer. The same goes if the building is recently built and the systems have a guarantee from the builder. You’d want a home warranty when both these are old and might require repairs soon. Read through terms and conditions The moment that determines your final choice is when you sign the home warranty contract. No matter how much research you could have done about the company, it is vital to read through their conditions and understand what you are signing up for. Most misunderstandings and dissatisfaction come from not fully understanding what a warranty covers. It also means contacting a legal advisor to explain terms that seem hard to understand. Simple statements might slip through without being seen if you’re not attentive. For example, the warranty could state the coverage of the refrigerator but not the ice maker inside. Avoid hurrying for the cheapest option Following the previous step, we should mention that are low-cost home warranties seem appealing, and unless you read through their plans carefully, you might choose a contract that brings you more expenditure in the long term. The overall price seems reasonable, but you’re given a limited number of claims during the year. Therefore, you will end up spending more money on repairs after finishing your claims. There’s always a good reason for the low price, and if it’s not clarified why, it might be hidden in the low number of claims or list of appliances covered. Compare and ask for quotes After evaluating whether you need a home warranty or not and listing all systems and appliances that could break down soon, it’s time for action. Select reputable companies in your area with excellent online reviews.