Maybe you’ve seen or heard one of the many advertisements out there for home warranty companies; they’re pretty hard to miss. Names like American Home Shield, First American Home Warranty and Choice Home Warranty might ring a bell.
Perhaps some of your friends have even bought home warranties themselves. That might leave you wondering: “Are home warranties worth the money?”
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What money expert Clark Howard thinks about home warranties
- What home warranties do and don’t cover
- Home warranty horror stories
Why Clark Howard Says Home Warranties Are Mostly a Waste of Money
According to one survey, home warranties are a $2.6 billion industry in 2021.
Clark thinks that’s around $2.6 billion too much.
“It sounds so wonderful,” Clark says. “You pay five or six hundred bucks, and supposedly you are buying peace of mind for repairs and replacement of appliances and major mechanical in their house. But when something goes wrong, the warranty company is like, ‘Who are you? You want us to do what?’”
“Trust me on this: Don’t waste your money on a home warranty. Instead, save your money for when something does break in your home.”
If something goes wrong in your home, Clark says the warranty companies are brutally difficult to deal with. They will require you to use only one of their contractors. That contractor may or may not show up on schedule while you’re suffering in the summer heat with a broken AC unit. And don’t forget that you’ll have a deductible to pay on top of that.
Clark’s warning not enough for you?
Consider this: According to a 2019 article in the Washington Post, American Home Shield (the country’s largest home warranty company) was the subject of nearly 11,000 complaints to the Better Business Bureau in the three years prior.
What Home Warranties Do and Don’t Cover
In addition to being notoriously difficult to work with, home warranty companies don’t always make it clear in their advertising what is not covered under your agreement with them.
While home warranties generally cover the appliances in your home, the systems in your home (the HVAC unit, for example) or both, there can be some notable exceptions.
These can include things like:
- Fireplace systems (even if they are your main source of heating)
- Alarm system wiring
- Telephone wiring
- Plumbing lines that are damaged by roots or foreign objects
- Broken or collapsed sewer lines outside your home’s foundation
Home Warranty Horror Stories
Still not convinced that buying a home warranty isn’t a great idea?
Team Clark and our Consumer Action Center hear all the time from people who feel like they’ve been taken for a ride by their home warranty companies.
For example, Bill C.B. wrote on our Facebook page:
“My toilet has a leak at the base of toilet (I think the wax ring needs to be replaced). And it rocks back and forth when sitting on it. Called for service, a technician came out and [they] denied the repair because you can not see the leak on top of the vinyl floor (it is slowly seeping in between the concrete slab and the vinyl flooring). But [they] took my $100 fee.”
And Deborah F.H. said:
“I got one of these with the purchase of a new condo. The bathroom faucet that started leaking 30 days after we moved in? Not covered. The hot water heater that failed? Replaced with a far inferior one! And still cost $600 for ‘whatnots.’ [The company] called me about renewing & I just started laughing.”
Although a home warranty may be tempting you with the notion that you’ll have peace of mind in case anything big or expensive in your house breaks, hopefully at this point you know that they’re a bad idea.
Instead of buying one, put away some money in a home fix-it fund of your own. You’ll be prepared to take care of any emergency yourself — and not at the mercy of a company that just wants to put more of your dollars in their pocket.