Updated Oct 18, 2022
A home warranty or home protection plan is a service contract that provides discounted repair services for a set monthly or annual premium. These plans typically cover normal wear and tear on home systems, appliances, or a combination. Many providers also offer add-on coverage for hot tubs, well pumps, roofing systems, and much more.
If one of your covered items malfunctions, you’ll submit a claim which tells the provider you have a service need. Home warranty providers generally have similar claims processes, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
The key to getting your money’s worth with a home warranty contract is to submit a claim as soon as something goes wrong. There are several steps in the claims process, some of which can make or break your warranty’s success. We’ll show you the four steps for filing a home warranty claim and how to ensure your claim is accepted.
Assessing your coverage before submitting a claim is the best way to avoid wasting your and your provider’s time. Your policy will clearly outline plan exclusions and coverage limits to know before submitting a claim.
At a high level, home warranties cover normal wear and tear on many of your home’s appliances and systems. The table below shows examples of what contracts typically include.
Remember that most providers offer separate coverage for appliances and systems, so you’ll need to pick which one is best for you. Otherwise, you can pay higher monthly premiums for a combination plan that covers both.
These plans cover dozens of items – but even the best home warranty companies can’t cover everything. Below are some common home warranty plan exclusions and reasons for claim denials.
Home warranty policies don’t cover items that break due to improper installation, even if a professional contractor performed the task. This rule absolutely applies if you perform a DIY installation or repair gone wrong. For this reason, you should avoid trying DIY repairs before submitting a claim, as doing so may void your coverage.
Pre-existing conditions are those present before your policy starts. If you have a malfunctioning HVAC system with frequent repair needs, your home warranty contract won’t cover its future repairs. Providers implement this clause to protect themselves from spending thousands of dollars on faulty appliances. It also stops a customer from buying a home warranty policy for discounted repairs on an item they already know is broken.
Home warranty contracts won’t cover damage from lack of maintenance. These policies cover normal wear and tear on home systems and appliances, which is the damage systems incur by simply operating over time. Your home warranty provider will honor the wear and tear clause as long as you’ve kept up with routine maintenance for covered items. Should your failure to maintain your items result in damages, repair needs for those items won’t receive coverage.
Waiting periods are time frames at the beginning of a policy during which coverage doesn’t apply. Depending on the provider, these periods typically range from 30 to 60 days. Home warranty providers enforce waiting periods to ensure customers don’t abuse their coverage or file claims for pre-existing issues.
You cannot make claims during your policy’s waiting period, so you’ll have to handle any repair costs out of pocket. Furthermore, any issue that arises during the waiting period will be considered pre-existing going forward.
Payout caps are the maximum dollar limits your home warranty provider will pay for a repair or replacement. Once a service exceeds this limit, you’ll pay the difference.
Providers offer different coverage limit options depending on how much you pay per month. Paying higher monthly premiums will likely give you a higher coverage cap when a repair need arises. These limits aren’t part of the claims process, but knowing about them is important when signing a contract or managing a repair bill.
American Home Shield offers a $1,000 per item payout limit for its ShieldSilver plan and a $3,000 limit for its ShieldGold plan. You’ll pay the remaining cost if an individual repair exceeds this limit.
A manufacturer’s warranty is a service contract that covers repair needs within a certain time frame after purchase. If your appliance or system is still under a manufacturer’s warranty, it’s ineligible for home warranty coverage. If the home warranty provider assesses your service request and finds the active manufacturer’s warranty, it will deny your claim.
Home warranties and homeowners insurance are not the same things. Home warranties cover wear and tear on systems and appliances, and home insurance companies cover losses from perils, theft, and liability. The two plan types are completely different, so don’t try submitting an insurance claim to your home warranty company.
Once you’ve reviewed your policy and confirmed your repair need is covered, you’re ready to start the claims process. Before filling out any online forms, prepare a detailed description of your appliance’s problems and possible needs. We suggest compiling the item’s manufacturer information and model number to have on hand while contacting your home warranty provider. This step will simplify the process and give you a better chance of receiving prompt and meaningful service.
Most home warranty companies allow claims submission via telephone or online customer portal. No matter how you submit your service request, it may take a couple of days for you to reach a representative or receive a response. Preparing the appliance or system’s information ahead of time will help move the process along when a representative can finally assist you.
Now, it’s time to submit a claim online or over the telephone. You’ll likely be prompted to provide your email address, phone number, and policy number to log in, so have these items handy for quick and easy access to your account. Some brands prompt you for additional information to deliver the most relevant assistance possible.
For example, Select Home Warranty asks for detailed information about your system/appliance before you even speak to a service representative. You’ll enter your appliance’s manufacturer information and the timeline of any problems.
After following the prompts and submitting a service request, the claims process will begin. You’ll receive an email notification of your submission and be able to track your claim’s progress in your account. In most cases, a customer service representative will reach out to schedule a service visit from a certified repair technician.
Your claim was accepted, and it’s time for repairs. The home warranty company will send one of its certified service contractors to your home to complete a diagnostic inspection. If the issue matches your claim’s description and doesn’t violate policy clauses, the contractor will repair or replace the item as needed.
Your home warranty covers most of the visit, but you must still satisfy the deductible. Home warranty deductibles called “service call fees” are flat-rate, per-visit charges that cover the labor costs of the visit. Wrap up the process by paying this $50 to $125 fee and covering any costs exceeding your plan’s payout cap.
Just like that, you’ve successfully filed a home warranty claim and used your home service contract.
Home warranty contracts are an investment for peace of mind when costly repairs inevitably arise. With the right policy and lightning-fast claims services, you’ll get the assistance you need without the hassle of finding a repair technician or crunching numbers. You’ll simply file a claim, and help will be on its way.
We’ve got you covered if you’re looking for more information on the best providers in the service contract industry. Our home warranty reviews give the scoop on top companies, plan options, and coverage opportunities for the items that make your house a home.
Other Home Warranty Resources