Quick Tips for the Home

Home Warranty Comparison: What You Need to Know

Home warranties take the hassle out of homeownership and give you peace of mind by protecting your family from unexpected and costly bills when major systems or appliances fail. However, coverage options vary widely from provider to provider and choosing the right plan can be tricky. 

How can you determine which plan and provider is right for you? It can take some shopping around to find the right solution for your home maintenance and repair needs. Here is a checklist that details what to look for in a home warranty and how you can choose the provider that's right for you.

Initial Considerations

Before you can begin a home warranty comparison, you'll first want to consider your home's needs. To do this, we recommend doing the following:

  • Make a list of all your appliances and systems. Determine which ones are critical to your family's needs, are costly to repair or replace or are at risk of breaking down. Older systems and appliances are at the highest risk of breaking down. Perhaps you have new appliances but an older home; perhaps some or all of your home systems have been recently updated, but you still have older appliances. Maybe you have a pool, spa, or guest house. These considerations will influence what kind of home warranty coverage you need.

  • Make a note of any duplicate appliances you have, such as a second refrigerator in the garage.

  • Home warranties are designed to fill in the gaps left by homeowners' insurance, but there is potential, however small, for some overlap. Also, some of your appliances may be covered under other warranties. Check and compare these policies so that you're not paying twice for the same coverage.

Every homeowner needs something different from a home warranty. Maybe you’re willing to do some home repairs yourself, but need help with others. Maybe you want to be totally hands-off and leave repair and maintenance to the pros. Either way, American Home Shield has a home warranty plan for you.

Coverage

  • Not all home warranty companies will offer coverage in every state and region, so you may need to do some digging to find a company that offers the coverage you need in your area. 


    • Verify which home warranty providers offer coverage in your area. Then narrow your search based on your priorities. Some providers offer fixed plans that cover a list of appliances or systems, some specialize in only a few specific ones, while others offer the option to customize your home warranty benefits.

    • Understand the various levels of coverage. You may find that the advanced coverage offered by one provider is equivalent to the standard coverage offered by another.

    • Take note of the pre-conditions and limitations to any coverage under consideration. Many plans won't cover appliances or systems with pre-existing conditions or costs that arise from improper installation or maintenance. Some plans won’t cover appliances and home systems unless you can provide detailed service records. And most plans won’t cover structural components of your home, like the roof.

    • Are you planning to sell your home? If so, you may be wondering, is an AHS home warranty transferable? Some home warranty companies allow you to transfer the remainder of a plan to a buyer during the real estate transaction, while others don’t.

    Once you’ve found some providers that offer the coverage you need for your home, you can start comparing plan costs.

Cost

For many homeowners, cost is the deciding factor when it comes to choosing a home warranty. We get it -- you want as much budget protection as you can get for as little as possible. That’s why we offer tiered service call fees and fully customizable plan options, so you can control your monthly costs and never have to pay for coverage you don’t need.

  • Determine the annual cost and what's included. The cost of home warranties varies significantly depending on where you live, the kind of home you live in and what you choose to cover. Some plans include additional services, while others have a more scaled-down offering. On average, a basic home warranty that covers common major home appliances and/or home systems, like electrical and plumbing, will cost $350 to $500 a year, but fees can vary widely depending on your level of coverage, the number of add-ons you choose to customize your plan, and the cost of living in your area.

  • Ask about service fees or deductibles. Home warranties take care of much of the heavy lifting when it comes to repair costs, but there still may be additional fees, such as one for each home visit if something breaks down. Compare any added costs. American Home Shield offers members the opportunity to control monthly costs by choosing your trade service call fee, which ranges from $75 to $125 a visit. The higher your service fee, the lower your monthly plan costs.

  • Establish whether there are limits on the maximum amount a provider will pay for repairs. Ideally, you want to get as much as you can out of your policy, but many plans have coverage limits, especially for big-ticket repairs, like HVAC replacements. Know what your plan limits are and what’s covered -- usually, when a homeowner is unhappy with their home warranty service, it’s because they didn’t fully understand their coverage.

Once you’ve narrowed down your home warranty options to a few plans you can afford, it’s time to investigate the level of service you can expect from each provider.

Service

A cheaper home warranty plan may not be worth it if the quality of the service they provide is low. These tips can help you determine whether a given home warranty company can be expected to offer quality service:

  • Easy access to a service network is one of the biggest home warranty benefits. With just one phone call, you can schedule a home visit for a wide range of maintenance issues. Investigate how many in-network contractors service your area and make sure there are a variety of specialties represented. American Home Shield offers members the option to register for an online profile with MyAccount. Through MyAccount, you can request service, track your service history, request follow-up service as needed, and more.

  • Inquire about the provider's screening process and selection criteria for their contractors.

  • With some companies, the service provider may be different from the company selling you the home warranty. American Home Shield works with a nationwide network of local service professionals to make sure you’re getting the service you need from qualified local businesses. 

  • Make sure you can find contact information for the company that will ultimately be servicing your warranty. You may have to work directly with your service pro to coordinate the details of your visit.

  • Ask about the provider's service level agreements, average response time and claims process. Many providers offer the convenient option of requesting service and filing a claim online, but it's also good to know that you can reach a representative when you need one. Compare the level of follow-up documentation each company may require.

Reputation

  • American Home Shield has consistently ranked high on lists of the best home warranty companies, thanks to our 50 years of experience in the industry, high coverage caps, wide range of plan options and add-ons, and efficient claims process. These tips will help you get a clearer picture of a home warranty provider’s reputation in the industry.


    • Check out consumer ratings and reviews to learn about other customers' experiences. You want to make sure you choose a reputable provider.

    • Peruse a company's social media and online presence to help confirm its legitimacy and level of consumer focus. Is this a company that places the customer first?

    • Verify that the home warranty providers you're considering are properly licensed if you reside in a state that requires it. These requirements vary by state.

    Once you have decided which factors you'd like to have in a home warranty, it will become easier to choose the warranty and provider that is best for you. For many homeowners, that provider is American Home Shield, and for good reason — we’ve been helping homeowners like you keep their homes just the way they like them for over five decades. If you decide that an American Home Shield Home Warranty has the best options after a careful comparison of home warranty plans, we can help you keep your home and family protected from unexpected problems. 

    Enroll today and find out what makes American Home Shield an industry leader.