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A home is not only a big investment, but it’s also a place where you’ll build countless memories. A home warranty coverage plan protects this treasured space by connecting you to reputable service providers whenever an essential home system or appliance breaks down from normal wear and tear. We gathered expert tips to help you make the most of your home warranty.
Choose the Right Coverage
With dozens of home warranty providers available, it can be challenging to pick the right one. Most providers offer similar coverage, making it even more difficult to distinguish between them while researching.
Before narrowing down a list of providers, consider your coverage needs. For example, do you have high-end appliances? Does your home have relatively new home items? Do you need home systems coverage only? Next, note your most commonly used systems and appliances and determine if you’d like protection for some or all of them. This allows you to filter out providers that don’t cover your needs.
Additionally, consider the cost of purchasing a home warranty. Most providers offer basic, mid-tier, and comprehensive plans. The less coverage you need, the less you’ll pay. Factor in how much each provider charges per service call fee. Most providers require you to pay this fee each time you file a claim. Many also allow you to customize your service call fee. This can raise or lower your monthly premium.
Bailey Moran, chief operating officer of Austin Texas Realty, recommends doing a cost-benefit analysis with multiple provider offerings to see which best fits your home. She also recommends asking your local real estate agent for provider recommendations since many work alongside home warranty providers.
Choose a Reputable Home Warranty Provider
It’s also important to ensure you choose a reputable home warranty company. Reputable companies have typically been in business for many years, provide easy access to sample contracts, hold accreditation with the Better Business Bureau, and have positive customer and technician reviews. Some companies are linked with self-regulating industry associations, such as the National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA).
Most home warranty providers source service providers for you. One way to increase your chances of a positive home warranty experience is by working with your own contractor. Some providers allow you to work with a technician you’ve used in the past for added peace of mind.
Sal Dimiceli Sr., the owner of Lake Geneva Area Realty, says you should always ask your provider if they’ll authorize a repair by your trusted technician. Some providers may deny your request due to a clause in your contract’s fine print, but others will fulfill it.
Act Fast When Problems Arise
When a home appliance or system fails, file a claim with your home warranty provider as soon as you notice the breakdown. Due to busy lifestyles, many homeowners delay contacting their providers. This may lead to a denied claim since most providers require you to report a major appliance or system breakdown as soon as you discover it.
Additionally, a delay may cause further damage and higher repair costs, according to Mike Gregor, a realtor for Cohen Agency. Quickly reporting a breakdown ensures your essential system or appliance has minimal downtime and allows the claims process to go smoothly.
Keeping concise records of your appliance or system’s life cycle can be the difference between a covered repair and a denied claim. According to Dan Belcher, CEO of Mortgage Relief, most providers include a clause in their service contracts requiring routine maintenance on your covered items. Belcher adds that failure to maintain your home items properly may lead to denied claims.
Some providers request proof of maintenance before proceeding with repairs. However, providers only cover working home systems or appliances. You can prove to your provider that you have working systems and appliances by properly maintaining your home items and keeping detailed maintenance records, such as receipts for air conditioning filters or an invoice for an HVAC system tune-up.
Documenting your interactions with your provider can also help expedite claims processing. For example, save your email interactions whenever you contact your provider via email. If you contact your provider over the phone, note who you speak with, the date and time you called, and your reason for calling.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
Like any service or insurance policy, home warranties are not perfect. Reputable providers make reasonable efforts to uphold their promises. That doesn’t mean a provider will cover all breakdowns or can repair an issue immediately. Arthur Chartrand, who is of counsel to the NHSCA, explains that providers go through a process to resolve claims. Providers must first source a service technician close to your home. He also mentions that some breakdowns require a special-order part, which can add time to the repair process.
Most providers offer a 24/7 claims portal or phone number. However, providers typically operate during normal business hours. If you file a claim after hours, during the weekend, or over the holidays, expect delays in providers sending a technician to your home.
Chartrand recommends thoroughly reading a provider’s service contract before purchasing a policy to understand coverage caps, exclusions, and limitations. “Don’t let something be sold to you; purchase it,” he adds.
A home warranty is a great way to maintain a budget and peace of mind. Whether you live in an older home with older appliances or in a new building, an unexpected system or appliance breakdown can occur due to regular use. Do diligent research on provider offerings. Pull quotes from multiple companies to compare coverage and pricing. Once you choose a provider, follow the tips in this article to have a good home warranty experience.
If you’re interested in purchasing a home warranty, check out our list of the top home warranty providers available nationwide.