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Maybe you're a landlord trying to mitigate your operating expenses. Or you're trying to sell your home in a tough market and want to set prospective buyers' minds at ease. Then again, you could be like the average homeowner who wants some protection against those unexpected expenses like a failing air conditioner or a leaky bathtub.
In all of these situations, a good home warranty is a wise choice that can make the difference between a quick, inexpensive fix and a huge repair bill. How do home warranty plans work? Most providers give you several plans to choose from, ranging from basic coverage of appliances or systems, to premium packages that cover just about every component of your home. There are usually add-on services for an extra fee, like coverage of your electronics, sump pumps, septic systems, pools/spas, and so on.
Wednesday, February 1st
American Residential Warranty is available to homeowners in all 50 states and is the only company in our review to earn an "A+" from the Better Business Bureau. Where their rivals have hundreds, thousands, or even 10,000+ complaints, ARW has virtually none. That's exceptional. Part of the reason for American Residential Warranty's success is their strategic partnership with companies like AIG, Lowe's, and GE Appliances - helping get your repairs done quickly and reliably.
3 plans to choose from
To get a quote from ARW, you'll enter your name, phone, email and zip code. Prices for their service can vary based on which part of the country you live in. For our test area, these were our choices:
You'll get what you pay for
While ARW's initial pricing looks a little higher than some others, keep in mind that their plans include a lot of features that most other companies make you add on for an extra, a la carte price. We also found a significant discount in our cart when we went to check out: for example, it brought the price on the Bundle down to a more attractive $101.16/month.
30-day money-back guarantee
Also, our research indicates that the trade service call fees charged by American Residential Warranty are lower than the industry averages. We couldn't find the specific amount disclosed on the ARW site, but customer comments lead us to believe that you'll pay anywhere from $50-$75 per call - which is less than almost anyone else. You can read the terms of your specific plan's contract, or reach out to ARW prior to committing to a plan if you need the specifics. You've got a 30-day money-back guarantee either way, so you can always cancel if you find anything in the fine print that you don't like.
Not only has American Residential Warranty maintained an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau for many years, but they've also only received a few dozen complaints over the past three years. For such a big name in home warranties, that's really impressive. Also, over 85% of their clients would rate them as "great" or even "excellent" , giving ARW a 4- or 5-star score. People say that the company is super-easy to deal with, repairs are made quickly, and that the warranty plans offer excellent value for the money.
The clear choice for home warranty plans
What's not to love about a home warranty provider that does what it promises? Year after year, American Home Warranty delivers. When you look at other companies who make their clients fight them tooth and nail just to get a repair done, you should remain happy about choosing ARW for your home warranty plan. With good reason, American Home Warranty continues to be our top choice for home warranty coverage anywhere in the US.
Elite Home Warranty wants to be different from every other provider in the industry. And so far, just over two years in, they're succeeding. This is the only company we evaluated that not only offers three plans to choose from, but also gives you the ability to customize your warranty: protect what you need and nothing that you don't. Elite aims to be transparent, straightforward, and trustworthy - and from what we can tell, they're delivering on those promises.
Work with a rep to get a price quote
When you enter your address to get a free quote from Elite, you might get a promo offer. During our most recent visit, we were offered a $100 discount and the first month of coverage for free. We weren't thrilled that we had to wait for an Elite rep to call us, to find out what our coverage would cost (or that we had to call them directly): most home warranty companies let you see your costs and even sign up right on their website. Even their "Plans and Pricing" page doesn't let the cat out of the bag.
3 plans to choose from
What we can tell you is that you've got three main plans to choose from with Elite Home Warranty:
Customize your home warranty
Elite has some home warranty features we really love. First, you've got lots of add-on coverage if you want it. For example, their Exterior package protects your lawn sprinkler system, water line, sewer line, generator, and separated spa equipment. You can get coverage for individual items/systems too, like your water filtration system or swamp cooler. There's even a home electronics package for your TVs, computers, and other gadgets. Finally, this is the only home warranty service we found that lets you custom-design your own package: choose what you want to cover and only pay for what you actually need.
No complaints here
We were thrilled to see that Elite Home Warranty has an "A" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau: that's a rarity when looking at BBB listings for home warranty providers. Better yet, there were no complaints filed there at the time of this review. We're sure that's largely due to the newness of this company.
Phenomenal customer feedback so far
Again, because Elite Home Warranty has only been in service for a few years, customer feedback is understandably limited. But, we're really encouraged by what we've seen so far. Clients are saying that the claims process is really smooth, repairs are completed quickly, and there's no attempt on Elite's part to dodge responsibility for covered appliances or home components.
Not available in all 50 states yet
One downside is that Elite's home warranties aren't yet available in all 50 states. At the time of this evaluation, residents of WA, OR, CA, NV, AZ, TX, WI, IL, FL weren't eligible for a plan here - and if you consider the populations of California, Florida, Texas and Illinois alone, that's a pretty big chunk of the nation's homes. We're eager to see Elite expand into those states as soon as possible.
Absolutely should be on your list
Elite Home Warranty is still really new to the industry, so we give them a bit of a pass for not being more open with their pricing. There are so many perks to getting your home warranty plan here, from customizable packages to unparalleled service, we can't help but recommend them as one of our favorite options. If you're fortunate enough to live in one of the 40+ states where Elite Home Warranty operates, we recommend reaching out for a quote ASAP.
Established in 1984, First American Home Warranty serves almost 600,000 customers and has three main offices serving the US. In a single year, the company pays out over $219 million on repairs and replacements.
2 plans for home warranties
The easiest way to start exploring your home warranty options with First American is by clicking on the "get a quote" button. You'll enter your name, phone number, address, email, and the type of property (single-family home, condo, duplex). In our area, our options included two plans:
Watch the details
All plans have an $85 service call fee, and during the quote process we noticed that the fine print said a $3 handling fee is included on all month-to-month payments (but not on full annual pay plans). You should also look at the bottom of each plan to see what optional coverage can be added, like septic systems/pumping, pool/spa equipment, and so forth. Be aware that electric central air isn't included in the Basic or the Premier plan, and you'll need to select it as a monthly add-on if you want protection.
Complaints get resolved
First American Home Warranty has a "just average" rating of "B" from the Better Business Bureau, though the BBB has accredited this company. That rating is due to FAHW having over 4400 complaints filed over the last three years - which, unfortunately, is not uncommon in the home warranty industry. Despite having so many complaints, First American does a good job of responding and getting them resolved (which is why they have a higher BBB rating than some of their rivals with fewer complaints).
Thousands of satisfied clients
On a positive note, we found more than 5500 five-star reviews from happy First American Home Warranty clients. While not everyone has a stellar experience with getting repairs scheduled, most customers seem to receive prompt service and minimal struggles with having it covered under warranty. We also saw lots of compliments for the attention received from FAHW's customer reps - and that's fairly unusual among home warranty companies.
Home warranty service you can count on
You're rarely going to find a home warranty provider that has absolutely no consumer complaints. First American Home Warranty does a solid job of handling the ones that come their way, and we're pretty confident in recommending them as a good choice for your coverage. We like their straightforward plans, easy-to-use website, and their thousands of reviews from satisfied clients. Keep FAHW near the top of your list when deciding which home warranty company should earn your business.
You may be familiar with Cinch Home Services under a different name: Homesure, Total Protect, Cross Country Home Services, and HMS are just a few of the sub-companies included in the Cinch family. Even Sears home warranties are now powered by Cinch. Across the brand family, this home warranty provider has over 40 years of experience in the industry.
3 home warranty packages
Cinch has three home warranty plans to consider:
What's covered in each of those packages? Exactly what you'd expect from their names - and we were pleased to see that what many of Cinch's rivals make you pay for as an add-on, you'll get included here at no extra cost. For example, the Built-in Systems plan automatically covers your sump pump and garage door opener, and if you've got a free-standing ice maker it's already covered in the Appliances package. Cinch has a la carte extras too; you'll see after you select a plan that you can include your pool or spa, septic tank components and pumping, and a few other upgrades.
More affordable than the competition
Cinch home warranties are surprisingly affordable. They start at $27.99/month for the Appliances coverage, $32.99/month for Built-in Systems, and $39.99/month for the Complete Home plan that integrates the two. Those prices assume you're choosing the $150 deductible - usually referred to as a trade service call fee by other home warranty companies - but you can opt for a higher monthly cost to get a lower deductible of just $75 or $100 per claim. It was only on the checkout page that we spotted the option to pay annually instead of monthly - but our quote was more expensive for annual billing vs. monthly (which came as a surprise).
180-day workmanship guarantee
We recommend looking at Cinch's terms and conditions, to get a feel for any maximum coverage amounts or "caps" . Depending on the system, item, or home component, and also based on the plan you select, you could have a cap on the particular repair or across all coverage in your home. All of Cinch's home warranties come with a 180-day workmanship guarantee on repairs, and you'll be covered even if your claim is based on a pre-existing condition that you were unaware of.
Decent reputation, but some delays in service
How does Cinch stack up reputation-wise? They've got a "B" from the Better Business Bureau - not bad, but not an "A+" either - along with accreditation. That less-than-perfect grade is because Cinch has received over 3300 complaints in the last three years, but that rating also reflects the fact that Cinch is responding appropriately to all of their customers. The most frequently-mentioned issue in complaints here is repair delays: customers have gone without a working dishwasher, refrigerator, or other appliance for weeks or even months, and the response from Cinch seems to be "oh, sorry for the inconvenience" .
Outside of the BBB, Cinch customer feedback runs hot and cold; you'll either love your home warranty service here or you'll hate it. Of the reviews we read, over 30% gave Cinch the lowest possible rating of one star, and yet over 50% thought the company deserved a perfect five stars. We want to mention that as we looked through the reviews in order from most to least recent, the more current reviews were almost all negative. It gives the impression that as various home warranty companies have been brought under the Cinch umbrella (like Sears, Total Protect, and so on), what used to be a positive customer experience has changed to a less-than-great one.
Good as a back-up option
We give Cinch a "cautiously optimistic" 3.5-star rating. We like the simplicity of the plans and pricing here, the company's long history in the industry, and the number of customers who have had flawless warranty claims. The negative reviews shouldn't be completely overlooked, though, and that makes Cinch a home warranty provider to turn to if, for some reason, you don't get a quote you like from one of our preferred companies.
Based in New Jersey and in business since 2012, Select Home Warranty offers coverage for appliances, home systems, or a combination of the two.
Choose from 3 plans
Select Home Warranty has three plans:
When you select one of SHW's plans, you'll see a la carte coverage at the bottom. For example, you could include coverage of your lawn sprinkler system for $5.83/month, your sump pump for $3.33/month, and so on.
Look for promotions
At the time of this review, Select Home Warranty was offering a promo that included $150 off any plan, free roof coverage, and two extra months free on plans paid yearly. So, in our area, our options were Bronze or Gold Care for $44.42/month, or Platinum Care for $47.75/month. Annually, these plans were priced at $479.99 and $524.99, respectively.
Service fees not shown
We don't love that Select Home Warranty doesn't make it clear that customers will be charged a trade service call fee for every claim - or maybe even more than one fee, if different trades are required to make a repair (electrical and plumbing for a short in the kitchen sink area). We got through the entire sign-up process without having that disclosed. Throughout the site, it references a "small fee" , and even their terms and conditions just say "a $ fee" without giving a number. Not very transparent, is it? Finally, digging through years-old blog posts, we found a reference to a fee that "ranges from $75 to $100, depending on the length of your contract" - but again, that wasn't shown anywhere during the quote and payment process.
Expect repair delays
The Better Business Bureau gives Select Home Warranty a "B" rating. That stems from over 4800 complaints filed with the BBB in the three years leading up to this evaluation - which is, sadly, not unusual among home warranty companies. The "B" rating indicates that despite having a large number of complaints, SHW is doing a satisfactory job of responding to and resolving them. The biggest source of problems here seems to be repairs scheduling: it can take weeks before a broken AC unit, pipe, or appliance gets serviced and fixed by a technician. Of course, this may vary based on where you live, and on the availability of parts and repair specialists.
Five-star reviews... so far
In contrast, we found lots of love for Select Home Warranty plans too: over 1600 five-star reviews from people who describe getting prompt service on claims and affordable pricing. We did note that some of those five-star reviews were strictly based on the sign-up experience (friendly sales rep, affordable plans) - and we wonder if those glowing reviews might drop in the future after they've had to make a claim.
On the right track but still lacking
We give Select Home Warranty props for cleaning things up since our last review: they've actually done more to show their coverage and pricing now than in the past, and we didn't find the broken links and spelling errors from our previous evaluation. But, that's not quite enough to earn a boost in our rating. SHW needs to be much more transparent with their call fees, and we'd like to see more attention to on-time repairs as well. Try a better-ranked home warranty company first.
Since 1996, Home Warranty of America (or HWA for short) has been protecting homeowners with warranty coverage. There are no age restrictions on anything they cover, no inspections are required, and items simply need to be functional and working at the time you buy your warranty plan.
2 options for home warranties
There are two warranty plans to choose from with HWA:
Not the most intuitive pricing process
Getting an initial quote here is a little more extensive than most of HWA's rivals. You'll have to enter not only your name and contact information but also the property type and square footage of your home. We also noticed that after we provided those details, the warranty plan names changed to Select and Select Plus, but with the same coverages described above. That's also where we found our options for extra coverage - some of which made sense, like pool/spa combo or septic systems, and some that had no explanation ("Orange Plus" and "SEER/R-410A Modifications" . Alrighty then!).
Pricing is average
Pricing was just average, with a quote of $57.92/month for the Select Plus plan and $46.04/month for Select. At no point did HWA come out and tell us how much we'd pay in service call fees, and we didn't have an option to select different amounts (even though in some places on the site, it said we'd have choices starting at $75). (It's also worth mentioning that the pricing page here looked suspiciously like another home warranty company we evaluated.)
Not a great rating from the BBB
Home Warranty of America has a "C" rating from the Better Business Bureau. There were over 650 complaints filed there in the year prior to this evaluation. The most common complaints were delays in servicing and challenges getting covered problems repaired or replaced instead of having the claim denied.
Still some positive comments from clients
On the other hand, we found more than a few clients who say that working with Home Warranty of America has been consistently good. Claims are addressed quickly, repair people are dispatched, and there's no problem even when multiple claims are filed within a year's time. All we can say here is "your results may vary" .
Nothing impressive with these home warranties
Home Warranty of America doesn't stand out. Their coverage is average, their pricing is average, their customer feedback is average. It's not the most terrible home warranty provider we've ever seen, but this company has a long way to go to earn more of our confidence.
Choice Home Warranty has been around for about 15 years. In that time, they've handled over three million service requests for more than a million home warranty customers.
2 home warranty options
To find out what plans are available in your area, start by entering your zip code. From what we could see, there are just two options offered by Choice:
At the bottom of the plan options, you'll see checkboxes to include optional coverage for a pool/spa, limited repair of roof leaks, stand-alone freezers, central vacuums, a second refrigerator, well and sump pumps, septic systems, and septic tank pumping.
Pay annually or monthly
Once you've selected your plan, you'll be taken to the quote page. In our area, for Total home warranty coverage and no add-ons, we were shown a monthly rate of $55 plus a "monthly fee" of $2.50 (which wasn't explained anywhere), minus a mystery promotional discount of $4.17 which brought our final monthly cost to $53.33. If we wanted to make a single annual payment, we could get 13 months of coverage for $610 (averaging $46.92/month). In contrast, the Basic plan was $45/month or $510 for 13 months. You'll pay an $85 trade call service fee on each claim, no matter which plan you choose.
Read the fine print
In very tiny print at the bottom of the site, you'll find a "click here" link to Choice Home Warranty's limits of liability and exclusions. It would be well worth your time to give it a look before you get too far down the track with a warranty plan here. In that same tiny print, it also says that this company reserves the right to offer cash instead of repair or replacement, and that the amount they give you may be less than retail. That's what we saw in some client reviews, especially regarding appliances: when, say, a dishwasher needed to be replaced, the amount offered was for a machine that was similar in features but much lower in retail value.
Poor showing with the BBB
Choice Home Warranty's reputation doesn't impress us. Their listing with the Better Business Bureau not only shows a lackluster "B-" grade and a disappointing 1-star average over 2600 customer reviews, but there was also an alert of government action. At the time of this evaluation, there was a lawsuit against Choice Home Warranty by the State of Arizona for "allegedly making false promises to consumers" and using "contract exclusions, payment caps, and bad-faith refusals to avoid paying for repairs" . Not a good look, but innocent until proven guilty?
Seems to avoid making good on claims
And yet, looking through those reviews on the BBB site and elsewhere, that's exactly the picture painted here. More than one person said that Choice Home Warranty reps refused to give them a detailed coverage and exclusion list until after they signed a contract. Seriously? They couldn't even point them to the link on the website? Contracts get renewed even when people have canceled their plans, and then they can't reach anyone in customer service to get it refunded and stopped for good. Time and again, policyholders say that Choice does everything possible to avoid paying out on claims.
You'll love it or you'll hate it
Then again, we found almost 16,000 five-star reviews for this home warranty service. It almost feels like repair roulette when you use Choice: will you have a horrible experience, or will you score with quick handling of claims and a right-away repair appointment? We're honestly baffled by the discrepancies between deeply unhappy and wildly satisfied customers here.
Look at your other options first
Choice Home Warranty isn't the worst option out there. You've got easy choices between plans, and some clients have no concerns about using this warranty provider. But, given the quantity of negative reviews, we think it's wise to leave Choice as a last resort if you don't find coverage you like with a more reputable company.
American Home Shield has been in business for over half a century, boasting over two million customers overall.
3 plans plus add-on coverage
You'll need to enter your zip code to see which AHS warranty plans are available in your area. Generally speaking, these are the options:
Pricing depends on your preferred trade service call fee
When you click on "Shop Plans" and enter your street address and email, you'll see the specifics of the plans offered for your location. Pay attention to the Trade Service Call Fee at the top: you'll pay what is essentially a co-pay for every service request, and you choose whether you want it to be $75, $100, or $125 (with the corresponding impact on your monthly pricing). For our home, with a $100 call fee, we were quoted $39.99/month for ShieldSilver, $49.99/month for ShieldGold, and $69.99/month for ShieldPlatinum. No matter which plan you choose, all AHS home warranties include protection for older items, undetectable pre-existing conditions, items without maintenance records, and removal of old/defective items.
Extra coverage is worth looking at
Once you select a plan, you'll see all of the available add-on coverage. For example, we could add electronics protection (backed by Allstate) for an unlimited number of new/used devices for just $18/month. Depending on what's included in your chosen plan, you can add some coverage a la carte: roof repairs, septic pump, and pool/spa are a few of the options.
Be sure to read the sample contract
We recommend that you take the time to review the sample contract that AHS has on their website. We found that link in the FAQ at the bottom of the page. It's a great way to make sure you understand exactly what you're getting, with no nasty surprises when you try to make a claim. For example, it states very clearly that if your AC unit needs refrigerant, you'll pay up to $10 per pound (if you're not on the Platinum plan) and you're on the hook for anything beyond that - and at least at the time of this evaluation, freon was running anywhere from $50 to $150 per pound. If your system needs a complete refill of 6-15 pounds, you should do the math and be aware of how much you'll pay out of pocket.
10,000+ complaints - in just one year
American Home Shield has a "just okay" rating of "B" from the Better Business Bureau, along with accreditation. We're not going to lie: we were pretty shocked to see that there were over 10,000 complaints filed against AHS - in the last 12 months alone. That reflects what we found elsewhere, including abysmal 1-star ratings from over 2,100 American Home Shield customers. Comments describe unreasonably long delays in getting parts and repairs (like five days without AC in Florida), difficulties in getting covered appliances replaced, and customer service reps who sound like they're overseas and are hard to understand.
Hardly any happy customers here
Yes, many home warranty companies get thousands of complaints. Unfortunately, AHS's rivals also tend to have a decent number of five-star reviews as well, while this company only scrapes up a few hundred five-star ratings out of over 2600 total reviews. Most disappointing were the reviews from people who said they paid premiums for years, only to be refused when they made their first claim - and those who said that they used to receive good service here but now it's just bad all around.
No longer a provider we recommend
American Home Shield is no longer one of our highest-rated home warranty providers. Their track record lately shows a disappointing trend towards customer dissatisfaction, and you're likely to get better service from another provider. While we hope to see some changes in a positive direction in the future, for now we have to rank American Home Shield as one of our least-recommended home warranty companies.
Guaranteed Home Warranty promises that if they can't fix it, they'll replace it. That's funny, because this service operates strictly as a referral platform - to other home warranty companies.
Just sends your contact info somewhere else
When you visit the GHW website, you're asked to enter your name, address, zip code, email address and phone number to get a free home warranty quote. Where does your information go from there? Who knows? This site only tells you that it's a quote program operated by Lead Creations, the parent company of Guaranteed Home Warranty, and that providing your information is consent for them to give your details to companies participating in their program - or, to put it more clearly, to warranty providers who pay this company for those client leads.
Too many unanswered questions
Are those warranty companies any good? Will you be subjected to endless spam calls and emails by businesses trying to get you to buy a warranty plan? Again, Guaranteed Home Warranty does absolutely nothing to tell you what comes next.
Absolutely flawless reputation - for lead generation
The one positive thing is that Guaranteed Home Warranty's parent company enjoys an "A+" and accreditation from the BBB, with no complaints filed there. Compared with most of the services we evaluated, that's amazing. But then again, given that the rating is for a company that specializes in SEO services and lead generation, that's not exactly saying anything about the home warranties you can get through this particular site.
Don't waste your time here
It goes without saying that there's zero reason to use Guaranteed Home Warranty to get coverage for your home. There's no need to send your contact information off into the void and hope you get a good connection out of it: just go to our top-rated home warranty providers instead, and know exactly what you're getting from day one.
All home warranties have limits, exclusions, and caps on the amount your policy will pay over the life of the contract: this is one of those times where it's essential to read the fine print and understand what's covered and what's not.
You should also expect a 30-day waiting period before your coverage takes effect. In other words, don't think you can hurriedly throw a warranty plan on your broken fridge and expect it to get fixed - unless you want to wait a whole month. Many home warranty companies use this time as a money-back guarantee period, in case you change your mind or discover something in your policy that you weren't aware of when you signed up. One such "surprise" is often the trade call service fee: what you'll pay per service call, similar to a copay you'd have on a medical insurance plan or a deductible with your car insurance. Be aware that you could have multiple fees for a single repair, if the fix requires different tradespeople to get it taken care of (both a plumber and an electrician).
You've got a lot of companies to consider for your home warranty, and it's easy to get overwhelmed. How can you tell which ones will deliver what they promise? Here are the most useful criteria to guide your decision:
To help protect your home (and your savings), TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked today's most popular home warranty providers. We're sure this information will help you choose the right plan for your property!
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