You could save a substantial amount of money if anything covered under a home warranty policy is in need of repair or replacement during the coverage period.
Here are the top 10 frequently asked questions about home warranty policies:
1. What is a home warranty?
A home warranty is typically a one-year service contract designed to protect the family budget from unexpected, costly repairs on home systems and appliances.
2. What is covered in the plans?
There are several plans and options to choose from to best suit the home’s specific requirements. Basic plans typically include coverage for: kitchen appliances, water heaters, plumbing, plumbing stoppages, electrical, heating system, ducts, instant hot water dispenser, whirlpool bath motor and pump assemblies and more.
Optional covered items can range from pool/spa equipment, washer/dryer, kitchen refrigerator, air conditioning, well pump and more. Plans and optional covered items vary in geographic areas and are detailed in home warranty contracts.
3. What is a service call fee?
This is the fee paid to the service technician at the time of the appointment.
4. Is it safe to assume there are no costs other than the service fee when a covered item breaks down?
Unfortunately, no. A home warranty covers only items listed as covered and excludes all others. For instance, costs could arise for the homeowner from modifications or code upgrades when a system or appliance is replaced.
5. Who do I contact when covered items fail?
Anytime a covered item fails, contact the home warranty provider to request service. It is important that the home warranty provider is contacted first, as they do not reimburse for services performed outside of their vendor network without prior approval.
6. How does the claim process work?
Once the home warranty provider receives the request and coverage is confirmed, a local service technician will call the homeowner to arrange a mutually convenient day and time to go to the home and diagnose the failure.
7. How quickly are claims handled?
Once coverage is confirmed, the contractor typically receives the claim dispatch within four hours during regular business hours. Normally, the services will be initiated by the technician within 48 hours after the request is made.
Simple repairs are usually made on the first visit, however, if items must be ordered an additional visit(s) may be needed to complete the repair or replacement.
8. What is an emergency repair and how are these claims handled?
Most home warranty providers consider it an emergency when the failure of a covered item renders the home uninhabitable; in these circumstances, the home warranty provider will make all reasonable efforts to expedite emergency service.
9. How is it determined if a failure is covered or not?
In general, coverage is limited to failures caused by normal wear and tear and limited to the terms of the contract. For example, cosmetic defects are not covered.
10. How are known pre-existing conditions determined versus unknown pre-existing conditions?
Unknown conditions are covered if, at the time coverage begins, the defect or malfunction is not known or could not have been reasonably observed by looking at or operating the system or appliance.
Pete Sabine & Leslie Whitney
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