What does a home warranty cover?
Plans pay to repair or replace home appliances and major systems
Find Home Warranties, Service Plans near you
A home warranty is a service contract that helps pay to repair or replace home systems and appliances that fail due to normal wear and tear. Homeowners sign a service contract — typically for one year — for the level of coverage they want.
Kitchen appliances and major components of your HVAC and other systems are eligible for coverage, and some plans add coverage for hot tubs, swimming pools, sump pumps and other less common items.
- Appliance coverage typically includes your water heater, refrigerator, garbage disposal, dishwasher, built-in microwave, oven/range/cooktop, washer and dryer.
- Systems coverage typically includes your electrical systems, interior plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC).
- Typical exclusions include preexisting conditions, negligence or misuse, "acts of God," cosmetic damage and nonmechanical components.
Home warranty basics
People often mix up the terms “warranty” and “insurance.” The two have very different functions:
- A home warranty pays to repair or replace things that stop working over the course of normal use.
- Homeowners insurance pays to cover property damage or liability caused by an accident or catastrophe, like a fire.
Angel Conlin, chief insurance officer at Kin Insurance, used this example: If a tree falls and crashes into your kitchen, your homeowner’s policy can help you replace any damaged appliances. But if your oven range has an aging component fail, the cost to repair and replace it won’t be covered through a home insurance policy. That’s when you call the warranty company.
Home warranty plans are purchased separately from insurance policies. It’s common to get one when you buy a new house, but it can be purchased at any time. You pay an annual premium for the plan, and when a covered item breaks, you pay a service call fee to the warranty provider. Then a technician comes out to replace or repair the item.
» MORE: Home warranty vs. home insurance
What a home warranty covers
Top home warranty providers offer standard coverage for the following systems and/or appliances. Specific coverage ultimately depends on the provider and plan — and the details contained in the fine print in the home warranty contract.
Typical system and appliance coverage
- Air conditioning
- Water heater
- Ceiling fans
- Garbage disposal
- Instant water dispenser
- Oven, range and cooktop
- Built-in microwave
- Trash compactor
- Clothes washer
- Clothes dryer
- Garage door openers
- Refrigerator (sometimes optional)
In addition to systems and appliances, many home warranty providers offer add-on coverage for an extra cost, including coverage for:
- Roof leak repair
- Well pumps
- Sump pumps
- Septic tanks
- Water softeners
- Guest units
- Pool equipment
- Spa equipment
Sometimes the extra (more expensive) coverage can be worth it to help take the hassle out of homeownership.
For example, a reviewer in New Jersey filed a claim because of a small roof leak: “I called to talk to one person, she took down my information, and a contractor was in touch, and the rest is history. There were no hiccups.”
» MORE: Is a home warranty worth it?
Compare home warranty coverage by company
Understanding the scope of coverage and the limitations of a home warranty can help you decide whether it's the right choice for your needs. For instance, American Home Shield covers bathtubs and water dispensers, while Select Home Warranty doesn't.
What a home warranty does not cover
No home warranty plan covers every little thing. Some items, such as sprinklers, fences or (usually) pools, are rarely covered by these plans, although the company may offer optional coverage for them. The terms and conditions of your contract might also exclude certain appliances other providers cover.
Be aware that improper maintenance and other exclusions may limit the coverage. In addition, a home warranty may not cover every component of a system or appliance, and there may be caps on the amount of coverage for each repair or replacement. It also doesn’t cover preexisting conditions — the appliance or system must fail after you purchase the warranty.
Not covered by a home warranty
- Preexisting conditions from before you got coverage
- Items that fail due to something other than normal wear and tear
- Cosmetic issues and nonmechanical components
- Things that were improperly installed or modified
- Anything not specifically mentioned as covered in the terms of your contract
- Any secondary damage caused by an appliance or system failure
Home warranty limitations and exclusions
Sometimes exclusions lead to essentially having no coverage, according to a reviewer in Idaho, who filed a claim when their HVAC stopped working.
The claim was denied. The reviewer told us that “in addition to Freon not being covered by the warranty, that cleaning of the coils was not covered by the warranty, and that labor required to replace the failed comm board was — you guessed it — not covered by the home warranty they sold.”
The reviewer was understandably frustrated: “When everything was said and done, I paid a bill for $1,007.50 from the HVAC repair company.” Considering how much a home warranty costs, it’s really only worth it if the company makes good on its claims.
This is why it’s important to understand your contract before you buy a plan.
» MORE: What is a home warranty?
Choosing a home warranty
Taking the time to research and compare different companies can help you choose the best home warranty for your home and budget.
Look at factors like the company's reputation, coverage options and pricing. Pick a company with a good track record of customer service and timely repairs. Make sure the coverage options align with your needs, and compare coverage limits and deductibles to ensure you're getting a fair value.
|American Home Shield||Select Home Warranty||Choice Home Warranty||Liberty Home Guard||Cinch Home Services|
|# of reviews||98,363||13,625||57,229||663||10,712|
|Monthy starting cost||$29.99||$44.42||$46.67||$49.99||$30.99|
|Service fee||$75, $100 or $125||Starts at $75||$85||$65 to $125||$100, $125 or $150|
|Read Reviews||Read Reviews||Read Reviews||Read Reviews||Read Reviews|
How much is a home warranty?
On average, home warranties cost $550 a year, according to NHSCA. Service call fees typically range from $75 to $150 each time you request a technician.
» COMPARE: Cheapest home warranty
Does a home warranty cover mold?
Home warranties typically do not cover mold removal and remediation. Most home warranty plans won't pay for detecting, identifying, removing or repairing hazardous or toxic materials, including mold.
What parts of my HVAC will a home warranty cover?
Most major home warranty plans that cover systems include air conditioners and heaters. Check your contract’s fine print to see what components are covered and the maximum coverage limit.
Remember that you're responsible for any cost above this amount. If your home is at risk of air conditioning issues, it’s worth looking for a provider with a generous coverage limit.
What parts of my garage door will a home warranty cover?
Home warranties typically cover garage door openers, including the electric motor, but not the actual door or track assembly. It’s a good idea to check your contract for specifics about garage door repair in your plan.
Do home warranties cover sewer line replacements?
Companies might cover stoppages in sewer lines up to 100 feet from the access point. Home warranty providers usually don’t cover broken, collapsed or damaged sewer lines outside the home's main foundation.
Does coverage include my fireplace?
Home warranties don’t usually cover fireplaces. However, your home warranty may cover the gas lines to your fireplace, which are considered part of your home's heating system.
Does a home warranty cover windows?
No, home warranty plans generally do not cover structural elements, including windows. If you purchase a newly built house, it may come with a builders warranty or a new construction warranty, which might cover windows.
Does a home warranty cover solar panels?
Solar panels typically come with a warranty from the manufacturer, making them ineligible for coverage.
Will a home warranty cover my roof?
Some home warranty providers offer coverage for roof leaks. It may be a standard inclusion or add-on option. Roof damage can require costly repairs, so it may be worth adding roof coverage to your plan if it doesn’t come standard.
- Article sources
- ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
- National Home Service Contract Association, “Understanding Home Service Contract Terminology.” Accessed May 4, 2023.
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