Home warranty coverage
Home warranties provide coverage for major home systems and appliances. However, coverage details depend on your warranty provider and plan.
The best way to know what's covered and what's not is to read the contract, but the following items are covered under most major home warranty plans:
- Air conditioners
- Heating systems
- Electrical components
- Water heaters
- Garbage disposals
- Ranges, ovens and cooktops
- Clothes washers/dryers
- Built-in microwaves
- Ceiling fans
- Garage door openers
Most home warranty providers also offer optional coverage for specialty items like pools, spas, septic pumps, well pumps and secondary appliance units.
What does a home warranty not cover?
Generally, home warranties do not cover issues related to:
- Preexisting conditions
- Unusual wear and tear
- Improper installation or maintenance
- Code violations
- Items typically covered by home insurance
- Commercial-grade appliances
- Items under manufacturers' warranties
Home warranty vs. home insurance
People often mix up the terms home warranty and home insurance.
- A home warranty is a service contract that pays for repairs to essential home systems and appliances that break down due to normal wear and tear.
- Home insurance protects homeowners against costs associated with loss or damage from natural disasters, fires and theft.
If you have a mortgage on your home, homeowners insurance is usually mandatory, while a home warranty is always optional.
|Covered by a home warranty||Covered by homeowners insurance|
|Home systems like HVAC, wiring and plumbing||Damage to the structure of your home|
|Home appliances like refrigerators, microwaves and dishwashers||Loss or damage to your personal property|
|Supplementary needs like locksmith services||Personal liability|
Home warranty coverage FAQ
- Does a home warranty cover my roof?
- Not all home warranty providers offer coverage for roof leaks, but some do. Many of these providers cover roof leaks in their home warranty plans, while others offer roof protection as an add-on service for their standard plans. Roof damage can require costly repairs, so it may be worth adding roof coverage if it doesn’t come standard.
- Do home warranties cover fireplaces?
- 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. Check with your provider to confirm.
- Does a home warranty cover old appliances?
- A home warranty covers any specified appliances in your home, regardless of age. It typically won’t cover preexisting conditions that your older appliances may have by the time you sign up, though.
- Does a home warranty cover HVAC?
- Most major home warranty providers include air conditioners and heaters in their covered systems. However, given the potential for significant expenses, a home warranty company will do everything it can to repair an HVAC system before replacing it. Check your contract’s fine print to see what components are covered, and check the maximum coverage limit for air conditioning and heating units. Remember that you're responsible for any cost above this amount. If your home is at risk of AC issues, it’s worth looking for a provider with a generous per-item coverage limit.
- Does a home warranty cover garage doors?
- Typically, home warranties cover the motors that open garage doors but not the actual doors and tracks. It’s a good idea to check your contract for specifics.
- Does a home warranty cover plumbing?
- Typically, yes. If you have a home warranty system or combo plan, it should cover your plumbing system. When reviewing home warranty options, check sample contracts to see which parts of plumbing systems are covered.
- Does a home warranty cover electrical issues?
- Most home warranties cover a residential electrical system’s major components, such as direct current wiring, light fixtures and built-in exhaust units. However, not all plans cover associated items and issues, such as faceplates, circuit overloads and accessory wiring.
- Does a home warranty cover mold?
- Generally, no. Home warranty plans do not typically cover the detection, identification, removal or repair of hazardous or toxic materials, including mold.
- Does a home warranty cover windows?
- Home warranty plans generally do not cover structural elements like windows. If you purchase a newly built house, it may come with a builder's warranty or a new construction warranty, which could cover windows.
Here's what you should look for in a home warranty contract
If you're buying a home warranty plan, always read the contract before you sign. Specifically look for coverage details, exclusions and limits:
- Understand what’s covered: Your contract should list what parts, items and situations it covers.
- Look for exclusions: A “covered” appliance or system may only be covered for certain parts and exclude other features. Often, your contract will list these exclusions under each covered item. However, it may have them listed in separate “exclusions” or “notes” sections, so verify to be sure.
- Check coverage limits: Your contract should list any limits on the number of units covered, the size or type of the unit covered, and the maximum dollar amount covered per contract term. You’re expected to pay out of pocket for expenses that exceed the dollar limit listed in your contract.
Sample home warranty contracts
You can find sample contracts for popular providers online before you ever sign on the dotted line. Reading through these documents should give you a good idea of what you can expect from your plan once you move forward.
Coverage inclusions and exclusions are where a home warranty provider lists the specifics of a plan’s coverage. While your plan may state that you have coverage for broad terms like “refrigerator” or “electrical,” that does not necessarily mean that all parts and components in those items are 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:
- Individual components
- Individual back-end parts
- Integral freezer units
- Racks and shelves
- Ice makers and ice crushers
- Beverage dispensers and water lines
- Leaks and food spoilage
- Hinges, glass and lighting
Home warranties generally provide coverage for items related to the essential function of each system or appliance. However, they may not cover nonessential items. In the case above, if a rack or shelf breaks, that doesn’t affect the essential function of a refrigerator, which is to keep cold.
Home warranty providers don’t pay more than the limits listed in your service contract. A home warranty company might list these limits on a per-item or per-term basis. These limits typically range from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the provider. Expect to see language in your contract like:
“[Provider] will pay up to $1,500 per contract term for access, diagnosis and repair or replacement of [item].”
If a repair or replacement ends up costing more than the coverage limit in your policy, the warranty company may offer you a cash payout instead. In this case, you’d receive funds up to your coverage limit but then need to make up the difference yourself to have the item repaired or replaced. You may also have to provide documentation to your warranty provider that you used the cash payout to make the repair.
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