How to file a home warranty claim

Tips for a smooth claim experience

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    Appliances and home systems eventually break down. When something does finally break, it can put a real dent in your wallet. Having a home warranty can ease that burden, since it can cover the cost of replacement or repair of home appliances and systems.

    To get someone out to fix your broken appliances and systems, you’ll need to file a claim with your home warranty company. It isn’t a complicated process, but there are a few things you should know about how the claim filing process works.

    Key insights

    • Filing a claim can be done online or over the phone.
    • You will need to pay a service call fee for the warranty company to send someone for a repair.
    • Your home warranty claim may be rejected if you haven’t been maintaining your appliance or system.

    Understanding your home warranty

    Home warranties work similarly to insurance policies for major appliances and systems, such as your refrigerator, HVAC system, water heater or plumbing. When they break down or need repair, a home warranty company can find a repair person for you and help cover the costs. That means less stress and less dipping into your savings when things go wrong.

    Home warranties shouldn’t be confused with homeowners insurance, though. Homeowners insurance usually takes care of damage caused by unexpected events like fires, storms or theft. Home warranties, on the other hand, cover everyday wear and tear issues for appliances and systems.

    Not all home warranties are created equal. Different plans cover different items, and there may be some hidden costs lurking in the fine print. Most have specific deductibles or service call fees, and most companies put a cap on the amount of available coverage.

    That's why it's important to read and understand the terms and conditions of your home warranty contract. Knowing what's covered, what's not, and what you're responsible for can save you a lot of trouble down the line.

    » LEARN: What is a home warranty?

    How to file a home warranty claim

    Filing your service claim is usually an easy process that only takes a few minutes. Here’s how filing a claim works.

    Review and understand your coverage

    Before starting the claim process, go over your home warranty agreement to see if the broken appliance or system is covered — and for how much. “Carefully reviewing your policy coverage/limitations prior to submitting a claim is important to avoid wasting money on a non-covered item,” said Melissa Zimbelman, a real estate agent and property manager in Nevada.

    Some plans let you choose a deductible. Plans with lower deductibles typically cost more.

    Refreshing your memory on your coverage can also help you avoid any surprises when it comes to how much you will pay for the deductible and any terms that may make the home warranty company reject your claim. For example, many companies will deny a claim if the homeowner hasn’t been properly maintaining the item.

    Also, consider if filing a claim makes sense.

    “Try and determine the cost of the repair to the item you are going to be submitting,” said Zimbelman. “If the issue is with a toilet flapper, as an example, that costs less than $10 at the local hardware store, and you can google a video on how to install it. In that instance, paying the $85 deductible may not make sense.

    However, if you know that you are not at all handy, and you might end up breaking the toilet while trying to install it, then maybe the $85 service fee seems like a bargain. We call those decisions the ‘dollar per hassle’ decisions, and only you can decide if it makes more sense to do it yourself.”

    Request a service visit

    Some home warranties have an app that you use to file a claim, while others have a 24/7 phone number to call in claims. However, the most common is a website dashboard. Simply log into your account and select the option to file a claim. Then, the website will take you through the process, which typically takes only a few minutes. The company will then have a contractor reach out to set up an appointment.

    Pay your service fee

    You pay a fee called a deductible every time you submit a claim. “These will range from around $85 to $125 per claim submitted,” said Zimbelman. “These fees are not typically refundable, so once the contractor gets to your home, even if they determine that your policy doesn’t cover the item, or that there is nothing wrong, you will still be responsible for paying the deductible.”

    Determine if you need a repair or replacement

    The contractor will come to your home to do the initial diagnosis. During the initial visit, the service technician will determine if your appliance or system needs repair or a replacement. “They will possibly make the repair that same day, if it is an easy fix, but likely will have to come back with parts, for a second visit, also a 4-hour window, in order to make the repairs,” said Zimbelman.

    When should you file a home warranty claim?

    You should file a home warranty claim right away. Waiting could cause the home warranty company to deny your claim.

    “Many home warranty plans exclude preexisting conditions,” said Kathleen Kuhn, an expert with over 30 years of experience in home inspection and home services now working as the head of business development with Fixle. “Determining whether a condition just happened or existed before the warranty plan was purchased may be open to interpretation.”

    How long you’ll have to wait for a repair person to arrive at your house can vary. It may take days or weeks, depending on how busy the service people are in your area.

    Quick and easy. Find a home warranty partner now.


      How do I know if my issue is covered by my home warranty?

      Your agreement documentation will include everything that is covered by your home warranty, along with any exclusions and coverage limits. Typically, you can log into your account on the home warranty website to find the details.

      What should I do before filing a claim?

      Always look over your agreement to see what is covered, any exclusions and what your deductible will be. It may make more sense to do the repair yourself if the repair is a cheap, easy fix.

      Is there a service fee for filing a claim?

      Yes, home warranty companies require that you pay a deductible before your claim is filed.

      What if the claim is denied?

      The company will keep your deductible since it is non-refundable, and your item will not be repaired. Instead, you’ll have to pay out of pocket to fix it.

      Can I choose my own repair technician?

      Usually, the home warranty company will choose the repair technician. If a technician cannot be found within a reasonable timeframe, some companies may allow you to choose your own. However, make sure to get authorization from the company first.

      What if the repair costs exceed the coverage limit?

      Most companies have a cap on how much is covered on each claim. If your repair or replacement exceeds the coverage limit cap, you must pay for the rest out of pocket.

      Can I cancel my home warranty after filing a claim?

      Yes, and you may qualify for a prorated refund on your policy premium. This can vary from company to company, so make sure to look at your home warranty agreement first.

      Bottom line

      Filing a home warranty claim is a pretty straightforward process, but you have to keep a few things in mind. First, make sure you know exactly what's covered under your warranty. Then, when something breaks, call up your warranty provider right away. Your provider will often send someone within a few days to check things out and fix the problem.

      Remember, regular maintenance is the best way to prevent issues down the line. It can save you from filing a claim in the first place and keep your claim from being rejected later on.

      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:
      1. Federal Trade Commission, “ Warranties for New Homes .” Accessed Aug. 14, 2023.
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