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Home warranty plans and coverage

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by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

The following companies participate in our Accreditation Program: American Home Shield, First American Home Warranty, First American Home Warranty, Choice Home Warranty, Select Home Warranty, Total Home Protection, Home Warranty of America and Liberty Home Guard

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What does a home warranty cover?

What's covered by your home warranty plan will vary based on the provider’s service contract. A standard system and appliance combo plan will typically include coverage for HVAC, water heater, plumbing, electrical, kitchen appliances, clothes washer and dryers. Optional coverage is usually available for an additional fee for items like pools, spas, septic pumps, well pumps, guesthouses, stand-alone freezers and secondary units.

Each contract will be different, so the best way to know what's covered and what's not is to read the plan.

  • Home systems warranty coverage
    • Air conditioning and heating
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
    • Water heaters
    • Garbage disposals
  • Home appliance warranty coverage
    • Refrigerators
    • Range, ovens, cooktops
    • Washers and dryers
    • Dishwashers
    • Built-in microwaves

What’s not covered under a home warranty?

Generally, most home warranties do not cover pre-existing conditions, unusual wear and tear, improper installation or maintenance, code violations, items typically covered by home insurance, commercial-grade appliances or items still covered under the manufacturer's warranty.

Providers also won't pay for exclusions or charges over the limits listed in their service contract.

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What to know about home warranty plans

If you're buying a home warranty plan, always read the contract agreement. Look at coverage, exclusions and limits. Before signing anything, get a copy of the service contract for the plan you're considering and read the fine print. Home warranty policies will contain conditions for specific parts, items, limits and situations not covered.

For example, let’s say your home warranty plan says it covers the kitchen refrigerator. The fine print of your contract might look something like this:

  • INCLUDED: All components and parts, including integral freezer unit
  • EXCLUDED: Racks, shelves, lighting, handles, freon, ice makers, ice crushers, beverage dispensers, water lines, leaks, food spoilage, doors, door seals and gaskets, hinges, glass, audio/visual equipment and internet connection components

Here's what you should look for in a home warranty contract:

  • Understand what’s covered
    The policy contract will list what parts, items and situations are covered.
  • Look for exclusions
    Exclusions may refer to appliances and systems not covered at all by your home warranty plan, but it will also include specific parts, items and situations your policy won’t cover. A “covered” appliance or system may only be covered for certain parts, while other features are excluded.
  • Check the coverage limits
    Your contract should list any limits on the number of units covered, size or type of the unit, as well as the maximum amount covered (this is the total dollar amount the company will pay to repair or replace the item). You will be expected to pay out of pocket for expenses that exceed the dollar limit listed in your contract. Often, your contract will list exclusions under each covered item but may have them listed in separate “exclusions” or “notes” section, so be sure to check.
  • Know how the provider treats pre-existing conditions
    Most home warranty policies do not cover known pre-existing conditions, but some providers may cover unknown pre-existing conditions and will specify terms and limitations in their contract.

Sample of Home Warranty Contracts

Warranty CompanySample Contract
AHSAmerican Home Shield Sample Contract
FAHWFirst American Home Warranty Sample Contract
CHWChoice Home Warranty Sample Contract
SHWSelect Home Warranty Sample Contract
THWTotalProtect Home Warranty Sample Contract
HWAHome Warranty of America Sample Contract
THSCThe Home Service Club Sample Contract
LHGLiberty Home Guard Sample Contract

Tips for choosing a home warranty plan:

  1. Find a home warranty plan that only has coverage for what you need. You don't want to pay for coverage you won't use. There are lots of plan options available, and a few companies even offer an option to build your own plan. You'll generally want coverage for any appliances and systems that are old or expensive to replace.
  2. Compare home warranty costs and plans from multiple companies.
  3. Narrow your options and compare brands side-by-side to make your final decision.

FAQ about home warranty coverage

Does a home warranty cover roof?
Whether or not a home warranty will cover repairs to your roof will depend on the plan you select. Some providers cover roof leaks in their home warranty plans while others offer roof protection as an add-on service to any of their standard plans. Roof damage can lead to costly repairs, so it may be worth adding roof coverage if it doesn’t come standard from your preferred provider.

Does a home warranty cover HVAC?
Most major home warranty providers include air conditioning as one of their covered systems. In most cases, a home warranty company is going to do everything it can to repair an AC system before replacing it. Be sure to check your contract for fine print on what AC components may or may not be covered. Also check for the maximum coverage limit listed in your contract for AC units. Remember, you will be responsible for paying for any cost above this dollar amount if your AC needs to be replaced. If you know your home is at risk of needing repairs or replacement of costly items like an AC unit, it’s worth it to look for a provider that has a generous per item coverage limit.

Does a home warranty cover plumbing?
Typically, yes. If you have a home warranty systems or combo plan, your plumbing system should be covered. When reviewing home warranty options, you’ll want to check sample contracts to see what parts of the plumbing system are covered, from leaks and water line breaks to built-in components like faucets, shower heads and other hardware..

Does a home warranty cover mold?
Generally, no, home warranty plans do not cover the detection, identification, removal or repair of hazardous or toxic materials including mold.

Bottom line

While home warranty plans offer coverage for systems and appliances, they don't always cover everything that can go wrong. Before signing anything always read the home warranty policy and carefully review the fine print for coverage exclusions and limits.

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    by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.