Home Warranty Companies: How They Compare

Home warranty companies offer some protection against the unexpected expense of repairing or replacing your home’s appliances and systems when they break down due to normal wear and tear. You’ll have to regularly maintain these units in order to qualify for coverage, and you are responsible for paying a fee for each service call (usually between $55 and $150). Plans typically cost between $300 and $600 annually, though some plans can cost more depending on the coverage that they offer.

What they cover

Each plan varies, and home warranty companies often offer a choice of tiers (each at their own price point) that range from basic to more expansive coverage. Most plans will generally cover major systems like electrical, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), and plumbing, as well as specific appliances such as the dishwasher, oven and garbage disposal. Expanded contracts may include items such as the refrigerator, washer and dryer or even the roof.

How they work

When an issue arises with one of your home’s major appliances or systems, your warranty provider will choose one of its preferred local professionals to evaluate the cause and extent of the damage. If the cause is not related to everyday wear and tear, then it won’t be covered by the warranty, though you’ll still be required to pay the service call fee.

If the professional finds that you have not properly maintained the unit that’s giving you trouble or that it was faulty prior to the purchase of the contract, the warranty company is also likely to deny your claim, even if the issue was caused by typical wear and tear.

If your claim is accepted, the company will pay for repairs to the extent that your contract allows. For example, if you have a plumbing problem that is only accessible through concrete, a standard contract from American Home Shield may cover up to $1,000 for the job. Unlike insurance that often has a standard deductible, home warranty companies pay first, and the customer pays any remaining costs.

How to find a home warranty company

You may find a company that fits your needs through word of mouth, local advertising or search results like this. When comparing your options, remember that home warranty plans are likely to differ. Here are some questions to consider when making a choice. Some of the answers may be found directly on the companies’ websites, or you may have to contact them to inquire.

  • What kind of coverage do they offer? Do they cover any of the most expensive home repairs, such as roof leaks or plumbing issues?

  • When does coverage begin?

  • What is their reputation among consumers? Check sites like the Better Business Bureau and ConsumerAffairs to see what kind of experiences others have had.

  • Do you need a home warranty at all? Review your homeowners insurance to see if it’s cheaper or more practical to add additional coverage to that plan instead.

7 home warranty companies to consider

Home warranty companies at a glance

First American Home Warranty

  • The Systems Plan includes the air conditioning, water heater, heating system, electrical system, plumbing and ductwork.

  • The Silver Plan includes the washer, dryer, refrigerator, oven, range, dishwasher, garbage disposal and garage door opener.

  • The Gold Plan includes everything in both the Silver Plan and Systems Plan.

  • The Platinum Plan includes everything in the Gold Plan plus the ice maker, fans, and plumbing stoppages.

  • ShieldSilver covers 14 major systems including heating and cooling, electrical and plumbing.

  • ShieldGold adds nine more systems including kitchen and laundry appliances.

  • ShieldPlatinum expands coverage to include elements like roof leak repairs and code violations.

  • The Basic Plan includes the heating system, plumbing, plumbing stoppages, electrical, water heater, whirlpool bathtub, oven, range, stovetop, dishwasher, built-in microwave, garbage disposal, ductwork, garage door opener, and ceiling and exhaust fans.

  • The Total Plan also includes the air conditioning system, refrigerator, washer and dryer.

  • Appliance coverage includes the washer, dryer, cooktop, dishwasher, freestanding ice maker, built-in microwave, range, range exhaust hood, refrigerator, trash compactor and wall oven.

  • Built-in System coverage for the air conditioning (including ductwork), heating system (including ductwork), attic fans, ceiling fans, central vacuums, doorbell, electrical system, garage door opener, garbage disposal, instant hot/cold water dispenser, plumbing system, smoke detectors, plumbing system, smoke detector, sump pump, toilets, water heater and whirlpool/jetted tub.

  • Complete Home coverage combines coverage from the appliance and built-in system packages.

First American Home Warranty

  • The Basic Plan includes the garbage disposal, dishwasher, oven range, stovetop, built-in microwave, trash compactor, refrigerator, washer and dryer.

  • The Premier Plan also includes the water heater, plumbing, plumbing stoppages, heating, ductwork, electrical, garage door opener and central vacuum system.

  • Appliance Guard includes the washer, dryer, refrigerator, built-in microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal, range, oven, cooktop, ceiling fans, exhaust fans and garage door opener.

  • Systems Guard includes the air conditioning, heating, ductwork, plumbing, electrical system and water heater.

  • Total Home Guard combines coverage from the Appliance Guard and Systems Guard packages.

  • Gold Care includes the heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, water heater and ductwork.

  • Bronze Care includes the washer, dryer, garbage disposal, stove, oven, built-in microwave, cooktop and dishwasher.

  • Platinum Care combines Gold and Bronze and adds plumbing stoppages, garage door opener and ceiling fan.

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