A home warranty covers the cost of repairing and replacing appliances and major systems.
The average home warranty costs between $200 and $1,800 annually.
Lifetime warranties don’t always apply to subsequent homeowners.
Your home is a major investment. To protect it, you’ll want to keep your appliances and other household systems running smoothly and efficiently. Luckily, a home warranty can help with that goal. A home warranty is a contract that covers the repair and replacement of various components in your home, including everything from your refrigerator to your washing machine.
The average cost of a home warranty is between $200 and $1,800 per year, depending on the nature of the appliance and the extent of the coverage. Before you sign a home warranty agreement, here are some questions to ask the manufacturer or third-party company offering the warranty.
1. What Does the Warranty Cover?
It’s important not to make any assumptions about anything in life, and you definitely don’t want to assume what’s covered or not covered in a home warranty. Coverage varies by home warranty plan, so it’s important to have the full list of systems and appliances covered before moving forward with it.
For example, if your brand-new air conditioner is blowing hot air, you might expect your warranty would cover a replacement. However, you’ll want the specifics explained in writing, which a good home warranty company will provide, to reference when issues arise.
2. How Long Does the Home Warranty Last
There are limited warranties, lifetime warranties, and everything in between. To avoid being stuck with a broken-down appliance, it’s important to know which warranties you are currently covered by and when they expire. Like those with replacement windows, some home warranties might extend for the entire time you own the home.
However, if you recently moved into a new house that’s not a brand-new build, do not assume that any lifetime warranties from the previous owner will transfer to you. You’ll need to contact the manufacturer or a home warranty company to find out about your options for extending or renewing any necessary warranties. If you are gearing up to replace any systems or appliances, it’s a good idea to hold off on warranty renewal to avoid wasting money, and ensure to get the right coverage for anything new you purchase.
3. What is the Required Maintenance Schedule?
Suppose you have a warranty for a device or system with a multi-year lifespan, like a refrigerator or a dishwasher. In that case, chances are that the manufacturer requires you to meet their maintenance schedule to make a warranty claim. Companies typically cover manufacturing defects, but they will not cover damage or malfunctions if they result from owner misuse or neglect, which includes not making regularly scheduled maintenance appointments. For example, even a long-time warranty might not cover a furnace that hasn’t received a service call in three years.
Ensure that you are on the right maintenance schedule to keep your machines running smoothly—the manufacturer or the warranty company can recommend a timeline. For seasonal items like your heating and cooling system, it pays to book those service calls early so that you aren’t (literally) left out in the cold.
4. What is the Claims Procedure?
It's one thing to have a home warranty, but it's another thing to understand how to use it when you need it. When something breaks, it’s always best to put the claim in writing, whether it’s sending an email or filling out a form on the warranty company’s website, so that you have a paper trail, albeit a digital one. However, if you make a claim by phone, you should note the date and to whom you spoke so you have a record of your claim’s process.
Claims can take time, so you’ll want to inquire if you’re still covered with a repair or replacement if your warranty time period should lapse while you’re waiting for a response from the manufacturer.
5. How Do I Renew My Plan or Get Additional Coverage?
There is some truth to the urgency in making sure your most expensive tools and appliances are covered. Inquire with the home warranty company about additional or extended coverage on certain big-ticket items to give you peace of mind.
You'll also want to know how you can renew a warranty so that you are always covered. Depending on the timeline of your warranties, things may expire at different times, and you don’t want to have a lapse in coverage on any major appliances in your home. That said, you don't want to renew any warranties of items that you are planning to replace anytime soon.
No one likes to think about their appliances or components breaking down, but you have to be realistic about the lifetime and usage of the components in your home. You may think you're saving money now, but in the long run, it could be more expensive if you don't get a more extensive warranty to cover your bases.