Home warranty plans make home repairs or replacements straightforward but can be interrupted by claim denials and confusion. We have compiled this in-depth guide on how to file a home warranty claim. We have analyzed and reviewed the best home warranty companies in the United States and understand the ins and outs of service contracts and the home warranty claims process.
How Does a Home Warranty Work?
Before understanding how to file a home warranty claim, make sure you understand how a home warranty works compared to a home insurance plan. Home warranties cover breakdowns due to normal wear and tear. Any damage or malfunction due to neglect, misuse, or natural disasters are typically not covered. A home insurance policy tends to cover events and issues not covered by a home warranty, such as environmental hazards, theft, and vandalism.
Also, a home warranty is an entirely optional contract that provides further peace of mind and convenience to your day-to-day life. A home insurance policy is mandatory by law for every homeowner.
How to File a Home Warranty Claim
If your HVAC, washer, plumbing, or other major home system or appliance malfunctions, you will want to file a claim as soon as possible. Below are the steps you need to take to file a home warranty claim properly:
- Understand your coverage–A vital measure to take is to read your service contract to understand your coverage carefully. Home warranties do not cover all repairs or replacements. There are many common exclusions home warranty providers add to the contracts. These exclusions include pre-existing conditions, damage caused by the improper installation or maintenance, misuse of an appliance or system by using it for purposes other than residential use, cosmetic issues, and internet-based components of an item. We recommend you find out the specific exclusions from a provider by asking a representative or looking for coverage limitations in a sample contract. Home warranty companies often set limits on pay-outs for specific systems and appliances. Once that limit is reached, you must pay extra costs out of pocket.
- Request a service visit–If you know that a broken or malfunctioning item is covered, then you need to request a service visit from a contractor approved by your home warranty provider. This step starts the process of filing a claim. Many home warranty companies feature client portals on their websites to place a service request by submitting a form. You might also directly call the company. The company will then contact a service technician for you. On average, a home warranty provider contacts an approved contract within 48 hours, and then the contractor schedules a service visit with you.
- Pay your service fee and uncovered expenses–Once the service contractor visits your home, you will pay the agreed service fee in your contract. Depending on the coverage cap of the item, you may have to pay for some uncovered expenses. The service technician will provide an inspection report and repair the covered item at no cost other than the service fee. If the issue requires an entire replacement, the contractor will schedule a follow-up appointment with you.
Why Was My Home Warranty Claim Denied?
Your home warranty claim may get denied for many reasons. To learn why your home warranty provider might deny specific claims, read the terms and conditions outlined in your contract to learn strictly which appliances and systems your plan protects, as well as any limitations or exclusions.
Below are the four of the most common reasons home warranty claim denials:
- Lack of maintenance–Systems and appliances within your home are required to receive service regularly. If proper maintenance isn’t performed on an appliance or system covered in your contract, your claim could be denied.
- Improper installation or safety code violations–Though this is sometimes out of your control, improper installation can be the cause of a denied claim. If your system or appliance experiences poor installation, your home warranty company could have the right to refuse your claim. Claims on broken systems and appliances that violate safety codes could also be denied.
- Unusual wear and tear–Warranty coverage protects you from the expensive costs of regular wear and tear. This means damage caused by everyday use of the item in question. If your provider determines that you’ve improperly used your appliance or system, they may deny your claim as this is classified as unusual wear and tear.
- Coverage cap exceeded–As stated before, many home warranty companies place coverage caps on certain appliances and systems that limit the amount they pay for a repair or replacement. Before filing a claim, make sure that you haven’t reached the coverage limit on the system or appliance in question.
If your home warranty claim is denied, you can start the appeal process. We recommend you contact the company directly to request any required documentation to file an appeal. If it proves difficult, you may get a third-party inspection of the item in question. Often, a second opinion helps overturn the denied claim. However, if the appeal process still proves difficult, you may take the issue to a small claims court.
Recommended Home Warranty Companies
If you are struggling with the claims process with your current home warranty provider or are interested in getting a home warranty plan, consider the following recommended companies. We suggest you get a free quote from all three providers. This way, you can closely compare your options, including coverage caps and exclusions, and negotiate a better deal.
- American Home Shield: With more than 45 years of experience, American Home Shield (AHS) is one of the most trusted companies in the industry. The company provides generous coverage caps and offers comprehensive coverage plans. AHS lets you choose between a $75, $100, and $125 service fee, too. Unfortunately, the company is not available in Alaska.
- Choice Home Warranty: Choice Home Warranty (CHW) is excellent if you just want a basic plan because it already covers both systems and appliances. Choice does not deny coverage based on the age of your home or your systems or appliances, which is great for older homes. You can choose between a basic plan or a total plan for $36–$44 per month. CHW is not available in Oklahoma or Washington.
Select Home Warranty: Select Home Warranty provides unique offerings and low premiums. Perks include free roof leak coverage, seasonal promotions, and more. Unfortunately, Select does not service Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, and Wyoming.
Our Home Warranty Review Methodology: How We Chose The Best Home Warranty Companies
The This Old House Reviews Team is committed to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews to our readers. This means earning your trust through transparency and having the data to back up our ratings and recommendations. With that in mind, we spent time creating an objective rating system to score each home warranty company. Here’s what that review process looks like:
- We call every home warranty provider, talking to sales agents and company representatives. We get quotes, ask questions, and fully understand the protection plan offerings.
- We test the customer service, including factors such as wait times, friendliness, and problem-solving ability.
- We analyze the sample contracts from each brand we review. This allows us to break down the industry jargon and see what is and isn’t covered so we can give readers straightforward information.
- We update all of this information on a continuous basis, storing it in a proprietary database that allows us to compare dozens of home warranty companies against each other.
With all of that data, we created a rating system to score each home warranty company. Our rating system is a weighted, 100-point scale on the following factors:
- Plan options (25): Every home and every family needs the right home warranty plan for them. Providers with more options and more flexibility were rated higher than those without.
- Coverage specifics (5): What does each plan and each provider cover? The more covered by the provider in their basic plans, the higher the score.
- Pricing (25): Both the monthly fee and the service fee play an important role in the selection process.
- Trustworthiness (25): There are a number of home warranty companies that aren’t reputable and don’t follow through on their agreements. We gauged trustworthiness based on customer feedback from the BBB.
- State availability (5): Where you live plays a role in the options you have for a home warranty. Companies scored higher if they covered more states than their competitors.
- Customer service (10): This factor is based on our own research from calling providers, as well as their guarantees for responding to claims.
- Additional benefits (5): Some home warranty companies offer special promotions or will cover items in their plans that are usually considered optional coverage for most companies. Home warranty companies that offer these types of benefits were scored higher than competitors that didn’t.
In summary, the This Old House Review Team reviewed 45 companies to select this list of the seven best home warranty providers. To keep our ratings and data current, we have a full-time researcher who collects (and regularly updates) more than 100 specific data points from each company to help us compare them on key factors such as coverage, cost, service, and dependability.
To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews team at firstname.lastname@example.org.