Updated Jan 10, 2023
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Most home warranty companies make it clear that they’ll only cover major appliances and systems that break down due to age-related wear and tear. Yet many homeowners fail to realize that the timing of an issue in their homes may also affect their coverage eligibility.
A pre-existing condition describes any defect in your home that occurs before the start date of your policy, even during the set waiting period. While pre-existing conditions are usually the leading exclusion clause in a home warranty provider’s contract terms, a few companies have loopholes and coverage exceptions for items that failed before you signed up.
Some home warranty companies cover pre-existing conditions and others do not. Of those that do, the one stipulation to be aware of is that they’ll only cover a pre-existing condition if it was undetectable. Claims for pre-existing conditions are typically only ever approved so long as any previous home inspection or maintenance records prove that the issue went initially undetected. Your home warranty provider may ask for a covered item’s maintenance history to confirm that a potential pre-existing condition hadn’t been previously flagged.
Choice Home Warranty (CHW) is our top choice for all-around superior home warranty coverage. We scored CHW with 4.9 out of 5 stars for its clear contract terms and generous annual payout limits of $3,000 per item. Choice Home Warranty doesn’t require an initial home inspection to determine coverage eligibility and welcomes service requests for any covered system or appliance no matter its age, make, or model.
As disclosed in their sample policy, neither of CHW’s two standard home warranty plan options will cover any home appliances or systems that were already broken before your enrollment. But, once those items are repaired or replaced on your own dollar, they’ll likely be eligible for maintenance through Choice Home Warranty if the item breaks down again.
Specifically for residents of Arizona, pre-existing conditions may be covered so long as Choice was made aware of the issue beforehand. Coverage for a pre-existing condition may also be plausible if the home warranty contract was transferred between property owners and the buyer purchased a home with a known yet undisclosed condition.
Fill out this form or call 929-400-6164 to get a free quote from Choice Home Warranty.
Read our full Choice Home Warranty review for more.
We found Select Home Warranty (SHW) to offer the most affordable home warranty coverage for pre-existing conditions. As our runner-up, SHW earned itself 4.8 out of 5 stars, namely for its lower-than-average $60 service fee, bundled new joiner discounts, and 30-day money-back guarantee. According to Select’s sample service contract, all covered systems and appliances in your home must be in proper working order when your home warranty benefits become active after the 30-day waiting period.
Because SHW doesn’t require a home inspection or any previous maintenance records for you to sign-up, in terms of pre-existing conditions, the homeowner gets the benefit of the doubt in a way. All repairs made by a Select Home Warranty technician are backed by a 90-day workmanship warranty. So, if a recently fixed system or appliance breaks down again within three months of the service appointment, you won’t be responsible for paying another service fee.
Also, when you sign up with SHW, you’ll be rewarded with $150 off your total premium and two free months of bonus coverage for a limited time only. Based on our research, this provider would be an excellent choice for any first-time homeowners in search of a full-scale home protection plan that won’t overstep their budget.
For a free quote from Select Home Warranty, fill out this online form or call 888-370-3953.
Read our full Select Home Warranty review for more details.
Across all providers featured in this article, American Home Shield (AHS) offers the most customizable coverage for pre-existing conditions. We rated AHS with 4.7 out of 5 stars as it’s one of the few providers that openly includes undetectable pre-existing conditions in its contract terms.
In order for a covered item to qualify as a pre-existing condition through AHS, the defect must be undiscoverable by a visual inspection and/or basic mechanical test. A visual inspection would confirm that the appliance or system has no apparent damages or missing components that would’ve caused its failure. Likewise, functional testing would’ve verified that the item was operating correctly with no odd sounds or movements.
American Home Shield’s coverage for undetectable pre-existing conditions applies to all covered appliances and systems in its three standard plan levels. AHS will cover damage caused by poor maintenance, improper installations, mismatched systems or parts, and malfunctions due to rust, corrosion, or sediment.
For a free quote from American Home Shield, fill out this online form or call 888-365-2839.
To learn more about AHS, visit our American Home Shield review.
The Home Service Club (HSC) offers the quickest service for home warranty claims concerning pre-existing conditions. We rated HSC with 4.6 out of 5 stars for its short 24-hour claims response time and unique 10-day waiting period. The Home Service Club is an ideal option for anyone who owns or recently purchased an older property. Appliances and systems of any age will qualify for coverage through HSC so long as they’re in proper working order at sign-up.
HSC doesn’t require new customers to undergo a home inspection, but it expects all covered items to be fully operational upon the contract’s start date. Though you’ll need to cover any necessary repair costs out-of-pocket before your home warranty coverage becomes effective, the Home Service Club will cover maintenance if that item breaks down again later. Also, any repairs made by an HSC technician are guaranteed for up to 90 days after the service appointment.
To get a free quote from The Home Service Club, fill out this online form or call 800-842-9334.
Continue reading about HSC in our complete Home Service Club review.
If you’re looking for a solid home protection plan from a provider with a scoff-free reputation, we’d recommend Liberty Home Guard (LHG). We scored LHG with 4.5 out of 5 stars as the most trustworthy home warranty company to work with when dealing with pre-existing conditions. Though only making its debut in the home warranty industry five years ago, Liberty Home Guard maintains an A- rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for its incredibly low number of customer complaints per year and quick claim-to-repair turnaround times.
Like many other providers, LHG requires all covered appliances and systems to be in working order by the official start date of your home warranty plan. Unknown pre-existing conditions are eligible for repair work through LHG upon request. You may be required to provide any previous maintenance records for the affected item with your claim. Liberty Home Guard doesn’t require an initial home inspection and will never refuse coverage based on the age of any appliance or system.
Through LHG’s home warranty program for real estate agents, both the seller and prospective homebuyer will be covered by a no-fault coverage warranty so long as the contract is transferred. This guarantees coverage for any pre-existing issues overlooked by the initial home inspection or any other damages that occur before closing.
To get a free quote from Liberty Home Guard, fill out this online form or call 866-451-2281.
Continue reading about LHG in our Liberty Home Guard review.
Why Trust House Method
House Method’s Experts collected and analyzed 2000+ critical data points to identify what makes a great home warranty company in the eye of the consumer. Our reviews team used this data to assess over 60 home warranty providers for coverage extent, annual cost, and national availability to provide unbiased reviews so homeowners can confidently navigate key decisions about their homes.
Anyone in the process of buying or selling a home should strongly consider tracking down a home warranty policy that covers damage due to unknown pre-existing conditions. On the seller’s side, having a home warranty in place by the time your home hits the market can increase buyer confidence in your property, therefore adding to the resale value of your home.
For buyers, a home warranty can serve as an extra line of defense against unknown issues that might’ve been glossed over during the home inspection. During a real estate transaction, it’s not uncommon for homebuyers to request that the sellers pay for one year of home warranty coverage. This guarantees the buyer’s protection against any system or appliance failure that might occur soon after the sale.
Claims for pre-existing conditions are typically only ever approved so long as any previous home inspection or maintenance records prove that the issue went initially undetected. Any covered appliances or systems that passed a visual or functional inspection despite having an underlying issue would be deemed eligible for coverage.
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A home warranty typically costs between $30 to $60 per month or $360 to $720 per year. Across the 60+ providers featured on our site, the average cost of coverage was $51.61 per month and $601.86 per year. Still, that price point is subject to change depending on where you live, the coverage level you select, required service fees, and whether or not you opt to purchase any optional coverage riders.
Home warranties will only cover undetected pre-existing conditions. A home warranty provider is not liable to finance any obvious issues with an appliance or system in your home that predates the start of your coverage.
Not all home warranty providers require initial home inspections to identify pre-existing conditions, but if a contractor is dispatched to the home and finds that your claim is due to an issue that predates your coverage, the repair won’t be approved. You’ll also still have to pay the service call fee in situations like these, even if your claim was denied.
For these reasons and more, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the specifics of each home warranty that piques your interest before you sign up so you’re not left paying unexpectedly out of pocket once a breakdown does occur.
Here are a few other general pointers to keep in mind as you window shop for the best home warranty plan for you:
Every home warranty is different in its contract details, coverage options, and overall cost. And while such variety means more options specific to each homeowner’s needs, comparing apples to oranges can make the browsing process feel more complicated.
The best way to start visualizing the ideal policy for you is by walking around your house and making a list of each appliance and system you use daily. What are the things you couldn’t possibly live without? Try finding a home warranty plan with inclusions that match your list the closest.
Especially for first-time homeowners who are new to the surprise expenses of owning and maintaining a house, earmarking a set monthly budget is an excellent way to work a home warranty premium and service call fees into your long-term financial plan.
Pinpoint the highest amount you can afford per month or year, and then stick to that price range as you generate a few quotes. Remember to always consider cost relative to coverage — a suspiciously low premium could be a sign of thin protection.
There are plenty of reputable home warranty providers sprinkled across the country, but not all of them offer coverage in every state. Double-check that your top provider choices offer home warranty services in your state from the start so you don’t waste time considering a plan that isn’t even available in your area.
Objectively speaking, home warranty plans do not cover pre-existing conditions. Every home warranty policy comes with a 30-day window before the policy goes into effect to protect the home warranty company from any pre-existing issues already present in the home. All in all, pre-existing conditions are typically not resolvable through a home warranty plan, but the right policy can still be used to help finance further issues down the road.
Some, but not all, home warranty companies may mandate an inspection from a certified home inspection company to ensure there are no pre-existing issues in the home.
Claim denials can be frustrating. Most home warranty companies offer their policyholders the opportunity to dispute a claim decision through a formal appeal process. When appealing the decision, you’ll likely be asked to expand upon your counter-argument and provide additional supporting documentation, like a home inspection report and a third-party evaluation of the issue.
Although no home warranty companies will cover known pre-existing conditions, it helps to note which companies offer the best coverage for both issues that may have gone undetected and all of your future home maintenance needs.
The most important thing is to sign up for your home warranty coverage as soon as possible before a system or appliance breaks in your home. For homeowners new to the home warranty experience altogether, we recommend Choice Home Warranty as the best home warranty choice for pre-existing conditions.
Still, don’t hesitate to get more than one quote. With the fair pricing, impressive history in the industry, and excellent coverage that all six of these companies offer, the best home warranty plan for you will simply depend on your unique coverage goals.
At House Method, transparency and trust are our most important values for the reader. We’ve done the homework for you and have researched over 50 home warranty companies so you can have the information you need to make the best choice for your home.
Our team spent hours on the phone speaking to representatives from each home warranty company to get information right from the source. We also dug into the fine print on each company’s service agreement to ensure no detail was left out.
To make the most of our research, we developed an objective rating system to score each home warranty company based on the following criteria:
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