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Whether you're a homeowner, landlord, or home seller hoping to sweeten the deal for prospective buyers, a home warranty can make a significant difference. From appliances like washers and dryers to home systems such as HVAC and electrical, home warranty policies protect you in the event of a malfunction or needed repair.
Given that the average costs of even a minor fix can easily run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars, it's easy to understand why many people purchase home warranties every month. The coverage purchased typically explains what is and is not covered, so you know exactly what you're getting. Also, most plans have some kind of deductible or service fee once a technician has been dispatched for your repair or claim.
Thursday, August 5th
American Residential Warranty is a stand-out when it comes to home warranty coverage. With corporate offices in Florida and plans available for all 50 states, American Residential Warranty offers not only home warranties but also electronics protection plans and home security systems.
You'll be impressed by American Residential's reputation, especially if you've spent any time considering the dozens of home warranty companies on the market. This company is the only one we reviewed with an A+ rating at the Better Business Bureau - and with more than 100 positive reviews received there. And, at the time of our review, American Residential Warranty had received 275 4- and 5-star ratings that were displayed on their own site - out of a total of 286! Reading through customer comments, you'll find numerous people praising every part of their experience with this home warranty provider, from the plan purchasing stage to requesting service and filing claims.
So, what options do you have with American Residential Warranty? You have quite a few, and the good news is that they're all very affordably priced. Plus, you won't have to enter your information to find out what you'll pay: American Residential Warranty is very transparent with what they offer. Plans include the following:
American Residential Warranty also has specials that are shown on tab at the top of the page or featured at the top of the site. At the time of our review, there was new customer plan savings such as one month free for plans paid yearly instead of monthly, discounts for quarterly payments instead of monthly, and $15 for warranty plans purchased online.
If you weren't already convinced by American Residential Warranty's packages and pricing, you'll be sold once you hear about their service on claims. American Residential Warranty is the only company we found that not only has a network of prescreened, licensed technicians, but that also allows customers to use their own qualified, trusted technicians. This does require prior authorization, but it's a huge advantage over other home warranty companies that require customers to use only the technicians the provider sends. American Residential Warranty has representatives available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year if you need to make a claim, and if you have an emergency, immediate service is given.
Customer reviews about American Residential Warranty are glowing: "used them for years, wouldn't go with any other company", "great pricing and reliable service with claims" and "excellent customer service representatives" are some of the most common compliments we found.
For all of these reasons, American Residential Warranty should be the first company you consider when choosing a provider for your home warranty policy. They are our top choice for the best home warranty plans available today.
American Home Shield is the largest home warranty provider in the nation, and for nearly 30 years, they've been the featured partner of ServiceMaster. ServiceMaster brings a network of home service industries together, including high-profile brands like Merry Maids, Terminix, and Furniture Medic. American Home Shield's influence and high position in the industry can't be ignored
On the other hand, we can't ignore the fact that in recent years their reputation has taken a hit. American Home Shield's rating with the BBB dropped from an A+ to a B. The reason? American Home Shield has more than 10,000 complaints registered on the BBB site alone.
The home warranty coverage offered by American Home Shield has remained consistent:
These include what you would generally expect from coverage; American Home Shield is one of the only home warranty providers on the market that does have that customizable option; you can choose 10 or more items/systems for coverage, which allows you to only pay for the protection you actually need. That's another plus for this company.
You'll have to enter your address and email in order to get a pricing quote. The first residence we tried to cover kept giving us an error; we had to try a different address to get the quote system to work. For that residence, we were given pricing ranging from $34.99 to $44.99 per month with a $100 Trade Service Call Fee. The base price for the Build Your Own was $39.99, with any coverage over 10 items/systems resulting in an extra cost, which varied depending on the items included. American Home Shield also provides options for upgrades, like well pump or pool/spa coverage, and you can modify your pricing by choosing a service call fee of $75 or $125 which raises or lowers your monthly fees accordingly.
At the bottom of that quote page, you'll also find the sample contract. This will provide important information about what is covered for each item/system and what is specifically excluded.
Another plus for American Home Shield is their 24/7 availability if you need to schedule a repair and make a claim. Also, American Home Shield will ask you to rate your technician; many problems with home warranties come when less-than-expert repair people are sent to service a claim, and American Home Shield wants to make sure that their network of more than 13,000 contractors is doing a good job.
Despite American Home Shield's challenges lately with respect to customer complaints, their commitment to quality and their long-standing position and reputation within the home warranty industry are worth keeping in mind. For this reason, we still think American Home Shield is a strong choice for your home warranty needs.
Since 1996, Home Warranty of America has been protecting homeowners with their home warranty packages. Claims can be made online 24/7/365, or you can contact their customer service team during regular business hours.
Home Warranty of America offers two main plans for home warranty coverage: Premier and Premier Plus. Each one allows you to choose between a $75 and $100 Trade Service Call Fee, with lower monthly premiums for the higher call fee. The Premier plan is priced at $41 to $44 per month, while the Plus package costs $50 to $53. Both plans cover the major systems and appliances of the average home. So, what's the difference between the two packages? The Premier Plus covers the air conditioning, toilet replacement, plumbing fixtures/faucets/shower heads, and more than 25 "other items traditionally not covered by basic home warranty plans". We would have liked to see a list or a link to a list for what those 25+ items actually are.
You have an extensive list of add-ons possible with Home Warranty of America's plans. Options include salt water pools, septic systems, roof leak repair, well pumps, and more. The additional premiums for these upgrades are clearly spelled out on the plan summary page, and the sample contract for all plans is readily available for downloading and viewing on the Coverage Options page as well. Home Warranty of America gets points for both of these features, since many of their competitors do not provide that information so freely.
Be aware that Home Warranty of America's plans are all 13-month packages, not the typical one-year timeframe that most home warranty companies sell. This would be an advantage if it were a fixed-price structure, but since you're paying monthly for a Home Warranty of America plan, you're essentially just obligated to pay for an extra month.
On the positive side, there are no age restrictions on any of the appliances or systems covered by Home Warranty of America, so whether your dishwasher is 10 months or 10 years old, it'll still be eligible for coverage.
How does Home Warranty of America compare with other providers when it comes to reputation? On average, Home Warranty of America has solid positive customer feedback. We found many compliments to the responsiveness of their customer representatives, and the lack of pushy sales tactics towards prospective clients. Although some policyholders have experienced mixed results with the quality of the technicians assigned to do repairs, they've been satisfied with Home Warranty of America's efforts to make sure the job is (eventually) completed right.
Home Warranty of America offers comprehensive coverage, transparent fees and pricing, and a solid "B" grade with the Better Business Bureau, making them a good choice for your home warranty plan.
Established in 1984, First American Home Warranty has more than 500,000 customers and offers around-the-clock service on their home warranty contracts.
In order to find out if First American can cover your property, you'll need to enter your zip code. You'll be taken to a page that shows you what is covered for your area. But, in order to get pricing, you'll have to enter your full information: name, address, zip code, and so forth. For our residence, we were given these two options:
Both plans offer upgrades to cover pool/spa equipment, well pumps, central air (electric), as well as a "First Class Upgrade" that covers more components within the various appliances and systems.
When you look at the quote page, you'll notice plus signs (+) next to each listed component. We weren't thrilled to read that "company shows examples of components 'not covered' to assist your understanding of this Contract, and examples are not exhaustive". In other words, could there be things that are actually not covered, but they're not listed on the quote page? That's not reassuring, to have to download the sample contract just to look up every possible exclusion.
And reassurance may be exactly what you want, because most of the complaints we found regarding First American center around excluded coverage items. Customers described systems that needed repair, and the most common replacement items were actually not covered. We also read a number of reviews that complained about less-than-competent technicians contracted by First American, who wound up causing more damages than they fixed.
But, compared with some of the home warranty companies we surveyed, it does look like First American makes the effort to address such complaints. Both with their "B" rating with the Better Business Bureau and their responses to negative reviews, this company does show respect for the customer.
Total Protect has been providing home warranty coverage to their customers for almost 30 years. Their website is easy to navigate and offers helpful information about home warranties in general.
In order to see pricing, you'll have to enter your email address, zip code, and phone number. We'd prefer to have pricing listed directly, instead of being required to give our contact information first. For our home, we were given the following monthly options:
On the page listing your plans and options, you can also click to see a sample contract. This is where you'll be able to determine the components that are specifically excluded from your coverage.
We were confused as we tried to research Total Protect's reputation in the industry. Previously, they maintained an "A+ with the Better Business Bureau. But, at the time of our latest review, the company had no rating; even when we looked up Total Protect's parent company, Cross Country Home Services, their status was listed as "this business profile is being updated" by the BBB. This could be related to yet another change in company ownership; the BBB link for CCHS redirected to Homesure of America, leaving us wondering what was happening for Total Protect.
And, when we looked at the ratings summary on Total Protect's site, we found that their customers are evenly split between five-star and one-star ratings (over 200 of each, plus a scattering of 2-, 3-, and 4-star reviews). When it comes to choosing a home warranty, especially from a company whose status is currently in question, the last thing you want is to see that their customers have a love-hate relationship with the plans and the service received.
For now, we feel it appropriate to downgrade Total Protect's ranking from an earlier 4-star rating to a 3-star rating; we give them points for a previously-strong reputation, but recommend caution as their BBB status is being updated.
Select Home Warranty offers three packages for home warranty coverage:
To find out what your plan will cost, you'll have to click the "Get a Free Quote Now" button. For our residence, we were given a quote of $429.99 (or $36/mo.) for the Bronze and Gold plans, and $499.99 (or $42/mo.) for the Platinum plan. Our quote page also included upgrade options, like stand-alone freezers, septic systems, sump/well pumps, and pool/spa. We also saw that if we paid in full, we'd get an extra two months of coverage.
It might save you some money to hang out on the site for a while. When we went to click to another URL, we got a pop-up offering us $200 off for enrolling that day. Then another message appeared that said we could get that discount plus 2 extra months free and free roof leak coverage if we enrolled in the next five minutes. We don't think most customers want the pressure of making an important decision within a five-minute timeframe, so this offer fell a little flat for us. Later, we found the same offer of extra roof coverage and 2 free months on the Coverage Plans page, with a coupon code on the side of the site.
The site itself felt outdated and less than professional. We found spelling errors, broken links, and missing images. Also, from reading customer reviews, we know that Select does have a Trade Service Call Fee - as do most home warranty providers - but we didn't see that information anywhere on our plan page, FAQs, or other locations on the website.
Those reviews also were very mixed with respect to customer satisfaction. Some praised Select Home Warranty for fast responses and paid claims, while others said it took days, even weeks, to get repairs made. Select said that they didn't have any technicians available, or that items weren't covered; we also saw more than one person who said that customers had to provide years of maintenance records on homes they had only owned for less than a year.
Every home warranty company experiences its share of complaints and issues, but the overall lack of professionalism on the site combined with many negative reviews puts Select Home Warranty at a 2.5-star rating. You may have a better experience with another provider.
Sears is a well-established brand across a variety of products and services. At the time of our review, however, there was a lot of talk about whether they may be facing bankruptcy. So, if you're looking at purchasing a home warranty plan through Sears, you should keep that in the back of your mind; there's no way to know how they would honor contracts if they go out of business.
For the time being, though, here's what you need to know about the home warranty plans offered by Sears. First, they offer three main plans: Systems, Appliance, and Whole House. Each plan covers what you would expect from the name, with Whole House representing the total combination of the first two plans. We like that all plans have a 180-day service guarantee on any repairs performed, and that there's no product age limit for covered items. You may have to provide evidence of routine maintenance on older appliances and systems, but this is standard for most home warranty plans.
Sears has generous coverage limits: $10,000 per claim and $50.000 per year across all 3 plans. Deductibles range from $75 to $100 per service.
On the other hand, we don't love that Sears doesn't give customers a price without entering their information for a free quote, and that you can only see a sample contract once you've done so. The most reputable home warranty companies make that information available without any requirements. When we entered our information, the pricing for our state was $49.99/month for the Appliance plan, $59.99 for the Systems package, and $69.99/month for the Whole House warranty. All three plans came with a "first month free' offer. Your pricing may be different, depending on your state and whether you need service now.
The biggest downside is that we found numerous complaints about Sears' service of warranty issues. Although many of them related to warranty coverage of individual products - such as a washer or lawn mower purchased at Sears - there were several that specifically discussed problems with the home warranty plan. You'll want to make sure you understand all of the fine print in your contract, because some of the complaints referred to a hefty buy-out fee for trying to cancel before the plan expires. There were also customers whose contracts renewed automatically without their permission, and the only way out was to pay the fee (or just wait another year until it expired and then cancel it directly).
Because of these complaints and the fact that Sears is experiencing financial troubles, we can only give their home warranty plans a middle-of-the-pack ranking.
Choice Home Warranty has been in the home warranty coverage industry for about a decade. We appreciate that Choice Home Warranty has improved its track record over the years, going from a D- (or worse) to a C+ with the Better Business Bureau.
But, compared with their competition, Choice still comes up short in a number of ways. The main way to get specific information about their plans - coverage, pricing, and so on - is to call or submit your information for a free quote. We prefer working with businesses that are completely transparent with what they cover and how much it'll cost.
It took some digging, but we were able to find their Coverage lists on the What's Covered page; check the Homeowners or Buyers/Sellers tabs to get there most easily. According to that list, Choice Home Warranty offers two plans: Total and Basic. As with most home warranty companies, you'll have to read the contract to know what's excluded; you'll find that link at the bottom of the coverage page, where you can see their extensive contract.
We also weren't thrilled with the difference we saw between what Choice Home Warranty said about their reputation and what we actually found. For example, their site features a 5-star "excellent" rating with a well-known, third-party rating system, but when we visited the actual third-party site, we found their average to be considerably lower. And, when we looked at customer reviews there, we discovered ample complaints specifically about Choice Home Warranty's pushy sales representatives. Since you can't get a quote or even sign up for a home warranty without working with a representative, brace yourself to be pushed repeatedly to commit to a multi-year service contract - and to possibly get a rude response from the rep if you insist on a one-year plan.
Customers also had issues with the process of getting repairs scheduled and completed. Often, they had to wait a day or longer just to get a vendor assigned to the repair, and then days (or more) to get a technician to their home.
While we're glad that Choice Home Warranty is on its way to a better reputation, they still have some ground to cover to compete with the higher-ranked home warranty companies on the market.
If you take a look at the Guaranteed Home Warranty site, you'll find a form to enter your information such as name, email address, phone number, and residential address. In theory, providing these details will get you a callback with a quote to cover your home and appliances "with no age restrictions" on your covered equipment and systems.
Sounds pretty straightforward - but we don't recommend that you do it. There's nothing on the site beyond that initial quote page: no customer testimonials, no sample contract, nothing. If you give them your information, there's no way of knowing where it goes; Guaranteed Home Warranty may even sell your details to other businesses - maybe not just to home warranty companies but to other unrelated third parties - rather than giving you any kind of service themselves.
With a D+ rating at the Better Business Bureau, zero information about what they provide, and broken links throughout the site, we suggest you skip Guaranteed Home Warranty in favor of one of the higher rated companies in our review.
You should be aware that home warranties are one of the most complained-about services available today. Why? The main reason is that customers don't pay attention to the fine print. When considering a home warranty policy, be sure to take a look at a sample contract. Like all warranty and insurance companies, they're hoping that you don't need to make a claim - and so many of the cosmetic, non-essential inner workings and components may be excluded from coverage.
However, if you take the time to educate yourself on the home warranty you're purchasing, there should be no unpleasant surprises, and your covered systems will be repaired in a timely fashion by a licensed, reputable technician.
As you decide which company earns your business for a home warranty plan, here are several criteria to consider:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best home warranty companies available today. We hope this research helps you find the best home warranty policy for your home or rental property!
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