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Questions to ask a home warranty company

What you need to know before buying a plan

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by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

You’re much more likely to find a great warranty for your needs if you compare a few companies before making a final decision. Do your homework by asking home warranty providers these questions.

What does the home warranty cover?
First and foremost, you want to know exactly what the home warranty covers. Look around your home and list all the appliances and other warranty items you have. Then cross out the ones you don’t want to cover with a warranty.

You can use this information to ensure you pick a policy that covers precisely what you need — no more, no less. Of course, warranties don’t cover everything in your home, so find a warranty that covers as many items as possible on your list.

What are the home warranty's exclusions?
Home warranty companies exclude certain items or situations from the contract. They’ll list these explicitly in the contract, but make sure to ask the company just in case. Otherwise, you may end up footing the bill for an expensive repair you thought was covered.
What are the limits with the home warranty?
Warranty companies typically limit the dollar amount they cover. Some companies put limits on specific parts or situations. For example, they may limit oven repairs to a defined amount.

Other warranty providers may limit the overall amount you can file claims for over a period of time. Once you’ve reached that amount, you’re responsible for any other costs.

Like exclusions, make sure you understand how much your warranty covers for every item within the contract’s scope so there are no surprises later. For more information, read about how a home warranty works.

Who are the company's contractors?
Home warranty companies partner with contractors to provide warranty services. Therefore, you want to determine who those contractors are to ensure you’re working with reputable people.

You should make sure the contractors are licensed and bonded in your state, and you also want to see if and how the warranty company vets contractors. Additionally, ask how the warranty company handles contractors who don’t perform well.

What is the home warranty’s pricing?
Most home warranties have two parts to their pricing: your premium — either yearly or monthly — and the fee you pay for services.

In general, lower premiums come with lower coverage or limits, more exclusions or higher service call fees, while plans with more expensive premiums offer more extensive coverage or have higher limits.

Of course, price shouldn’t be the only consideration. Weigh pricing against the coverage you need when shopping around to find the best policy for you. For more, read about home warranty costs.

How quickly will warranty claims be addressed?
Appliances that break can be inconvenient, which makes repair times a vital consideration. Some warranty companies have contractors available 24/7, while others only offer set business hours for contractor availability.

Additionally, some contractors may simply respond faster than others. This is especially important to know if you have an emergency, so ask the warranty company and do some online research into the company and their contractors.

Are preexisting or unknown conditions covered?
There’s always a chance you don’t know about a particular issue beforehand. Warranty companies differ in how they treat these. Some will fix them, while others will exclude them from coverage.

If you know you’re buying a home from someone else and getting a home warranty, you may consider going with a warranty company that covers unknown or preexisting conditions.

However, if you already own the home and feel confident your appliances and systems have been checked out — perhaps it's a new home — you may skip this kind of coverage.

What upgrade options are available?
Do you think you might need additional or extended coverage for certain appliances? You should find out what kinds of upgrades and add-ons your warranty company offers and how much they cost. This could save you money, depending on your situation.
What is the cancellation policy?
At some point, you may decide you no longer need the home warranty. Cancellation policies differ between warranty companies, and the worst time to figure out what yours is is when you want to cancel. Ask ahead of time about the exact rules and steps involved in canceling a policy.
What industry recognition or awards has your company received?
Industry recognition and awards can indicate a company has a positive reputation and excellent performance. The company will likely be happy to boast about them, but they may exaggerate a bit. It can help to briefly research the type of award or recognition they received to be sure it’s legitimate.
What additional services does the company offer?
If you’re looking for other types of home services, your warranty company may be a good place to look. Warranty companies sometimes offer other nonwarranty services, such as pest control.

Ask your warranty provider what additional services it offers. You may be able to negotiate a discount for bundling services through the company, and you’ll simplify your expenses.

Take a Home Warranty Quiz. Get matched with an Authorized Partner.

    Bottom line

    Home warranties can save you money and headaches if your home systems or appliances break down, but you also have to be vigilant because some companies don’t necessarily have your best interest in mind. For more information, read our guide to find the best home warranty plan for you.

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    Profile picture of ConsumerAffairs
    by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.