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 both 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.
  • 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 Rating Methodology

The This Old House Reviews Team is committed to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews to our readers, and we aim to provide transparency in our review standards and research process.

Our research process includes speaking with representatives from more than 40 home warranty providers, requesting quotes, and asking clarifying questions to gain insight into each provider’s benefits and downsides. We also analyze sample contracts from each company to understand specific coverage terms.

To rate companies, we apply the data we have gathered to our review standards. These standards are on a 100-point scoring system, which is detailed below:

  • Coverage (35 points): Providers are scored based on breadth and depth of coverage. We focused on key home systems (HVAC, plumbing, and electrical), essential appliances (refrigerator, ovens, and laundry machines), and unique coverage items (such as roof-leak coverage and code violation allowances). Coverage scores are weighted by taking into account coverage caps and other limiting factors, meaning providers with greater range of coverage and higher coverage caps score the highest.
  • Value (30 points): A company’s plan value is a reflection of how well it serves the customer in comparison to what the customer pays for the policy. We accounted for monthly costs, service call fees, and cost flexibility (such as customizable service call fees, discounts, and multi-year policies).
  • Trustworthiness and Transparency (21 points): Trustworthiness and transparency are a reflection of how well the provider considers the customer’s interests. We scored items such as the length of workmanship guarantees, online availability of a sample contract, policy change flexibility, and ease of cancellation. Additionally, we scored items that reflect industry reputation and customer satisfaction, including analyzing brand reputation across the Better Business Bureau and third-party customer review aggregators.
  • Availability and Service (14 points): Quality of customer service is key to customer satisfaction. We dug into each provider’s guaranteed response times, claims processes, service flexibility, emergency availability, and more.

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