What You Should Know About Home Warranties

Many homeowners rely on home warranties to help cover the cost of repairs and even replace broken appliances. But that's not always what they get.

Hughie Barnes' fridge started to show signs it's days were done.

She called her warranty company for help but Hughie says the technician that the company sent couldn't fix the problem.

"Finally after the 7th or 8th visit, I told him, 'Don't come back. I'm tired of you, I know you're tired of me,'" Barnes said.

Hughie went and bought a new refrigerator to replace the broken one. She asked the company to reimburse her for the money she spent on the new fridge with the money allowed in her policy. The company said no, because a replacement was the company's decision, not Hughie's.

"Sometimes they just keep stringing you along and keep repairing something that should really be replaced," said Liz Weston of personal finance website NerdWallet. "They prefer the Band-aid over the surgery."

Weston also hears from consumers who are frustrated with home warranties. She says if you buy one, keep your expectations in check.

"You want to be realistic about what you're actually going to get and what you're going to get is a service person that you didn't necessarily pick," Weston said. "You're going to get possibly the appliance repaired rather than what you would prefer, which is to have it replaced. If you do get it replaced, it may not be the quality of appliance you'd pick for yourself."

Hughie's experience is similar to what we've heard from many consumers who have many different home warranty companies.

Repairs are usually first choice before replacement. Some policies will let you decline the repair and take a cash payment instead. The company decides how much that payment would be. 

Check your contract and know what your options are before purchasing a home warranty.

Weston says home warranties can be a good idea for first-time home buyers who don't have a lot of savings.

Otherwise, you might be better off without one.

Contact Us