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Dozens of home warranty providers seemingly offer the same type of coverage, so you might be wondering: How do I know which is the right provider for me? What features should I consider? Is there anything I should know before signing up?
Our team will answer these questions and more. Through our research analyzing company coverage plans, conducting focus groups, and surveying actual customers of the best home warranty companies, we developed a guide on how to choose the right home warranty provider.
Assess Your Needs
The first thing to consider before choosing a home warranty company is the type and amount of coverage you need. Nearly all providers offer standard or tailored plans based on your coverage needs. It’s important to consider the home systems and appliances you want to protect.
For example, say you recently purchased an older home with updated major appliances. However, it still has its original ductwork and plumbing systems in place. In this case, you’ll likely want a home warranty that covers plumbing and ductwork.
Another factor to consider is a home warranty plan’s cost. Typically, providers price coverage plans based on the number of covered items each plan includes. Based on your needs, choose a provider that offers a plan within your budget and covers all the home appliances and systems you use regularly.
In addition, most home warranty companies charge a service call fee whenever you file a claim. However, some provide flexibility by allowing you to choose your service fee and lower your monthly premium.
There are hundreds of home warranty companies available. We recommend comparing several providers simultaneously to pinpoint the right one for you. Start by pulling free quotes from three different providers that cover your area.
Most providers include their sample contracts within their quotes. Reading each provider’s contract allows you to see differences regarding add-on coverage, claims processes, covered systems and appliances, coverage limits, and workmanship guarantees. Obtaining quotes also gives you a rough estimate of how much each provider charges for home warranty coverage.
Many providers differentiate themselves by offering comprehensive coverage, longer workmanship guarantees, or membership perks. For example, home warranty companies typically don’t cover items with preexisting conditions. However, some providers do.
A comprehensive coverage provider may suit you best if you own a home with many appliances and systems. On the other hand, if your home has older appliances and systems, a company that offers a longer workmanship guarantee would be a better choice.
Check Provider Reputation
Another crucial factor to consider when researching home warranty providers is reputation. Do your due diligence by checking third-party ratings from sites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or Trustpilot. In addition, find out how existing customers feel a provider handles customer service by reading customer reviews.
You can also check if a provider is associated with industry organizations. One such organization, the National Home Service Contract Association, routinely monitors member companies to ensure they follow fair business practices. Providers that partner with industry organizations likely take customer service seriously and hold your best interests in mind.
Review the Fine Print
When researching a home warranty, reading the fine print is just as important as considering the provider’s coverage options. We’ve analyzed hundreds of customer reviews from multiple providers, and the most common theme in negative reviews was a lack of understanding or awareness of coverage exclusions and limitations. By reading the fine print of a provider’s coverage plan, you’ll be aware of limitations that may apply to your situation. This reduces the likelihood of signing up with the wrong provider.
We recommend contacting each provider you’re considering and asking a representative to clarify any terms or clauses you don’t understand. Then, compare the sample contracts of three providers to see if the terms of one provider match your situation better than the others.
Understand the Claims Process
Take into account how a provider handles claims before signing up. Almost all home warranty companies offer a 24/7 claims phone number and an online portal to accept claims. However, this is where providers vary significantly. Some process your claim and send a service provider to your home within 24 hours. Others may take up to 48 hours or more to send a technician.
Home warranty companies don’t typically offer emergency services. This means that providers won’t send a technician to your home outside of regular business hours if you submit a claim after hours, on a weekend, or during the holidays.
Depending on your location, a provider may not have an in-network technician near you. Ask providers if you can source your own service contractor to perform repairs before signing up. Many providers allow you to use your contractor after you first obtain authorization from the provider.
Home warranty companies typically source a technician from their network of service contractors. Ask several providers where they source their licensed technicians. Additionally, ask if there is a vetting process for contractors before they can work with the provider. If a provider can’t answer these questions, we recommend considering a different one.
Our final advice on choosing the right home warranty provider is simple: Seek recommendations from homeowners you know. A friend, relative, or neighbor may have owned or currently own a home warranty policy from the providers you’re considering. Ask about their experiences with the providers, whether they’d recommend them, and why.
Your local real estate agent is another good source for recommendations. Many real estate agents work with home warranty providers as they sell homes. Their exposure to multiple providers can illuminate which provider could work best for you.
Whether you’re in the market for a new home or you’re an existing homeowner, owning a home warranty helps ensure your home’s essential items stay protected. With the tips mentioned in this guide, you can purchase the right home warranty the first time.
Check out our list of the best home warranty companies nationwide. We chose each provider based on coverage options, pricing, and reputability.