Best Home Warranty [2019 Update]

By: House Method

The home warranty space is hazy. Only 3% of the 188 home warranty companies are relatively well-known household names and the whole industry has a less-than-stellar reputation. House Method did a deep dive on home warranties to demystify the industry for consumers who are wondering whether home warranties are worth it—the short answer is yes, they are—and how to get a plan for the best value.

To decide which provider is right for you—and we really do believe that there’s a plan for everyone—we consolidated customer reviews, answers to common questions, and ratings from other review sites so you can save time browsing the web and start protecting your home. We spent hours on the phone with real home warranty representatives to compare quotes and we listened to customer calls to evaluate customer service.

Our criteria for the best home warranty is a balance of a variety of factors like comprehensive coverage, competitive pricing, generous coverage caps, responsive customer service, and an easy claims process. Using this methodology, we narrowed the industry down to seven of the top home warranty brands. With our guide, you can compare home warranty companies and we’ll explain to you how to choose the best home warranty.

Our reviews save you time, save you money, and they are always free. House Method is reader-supported. Affiliate disclosure.

What is a home warranty?

A home warranty is an optional service agreement that homeowners, home sellers, rental property owners, and real estate agents can purchase through a home warranty provider of their choice. The provider will cover the repair or replacement of specific appliances—like a refrigerator and dishwasher—or systems—such as plumbing and electrical—in a house for a preset period of time, usually 12 months. When an item covered by your home warranty breaks from normal wear and tear, the provider will repair or replace the item by dispatching a local service technician—usually a licensed contractor within the provider’s network—to evaluate and resolve the issue. Home warranties guard against costly repairs and lend peace of mind, which is why we, at House Method, think they’re worth it.

Home warranty coverage

Your home warranty will cover only what is explicitly written into the policy for problems resulting from normal wear and tear. Most warranty providers will require the following to fulfill a claim:

  1. Normal wear and tear—The appliance or system is not malfunctioning because you’ve broken it. If your garbage disposal isn’t working because it’s jammed with foreign objects, like bottle caps or paper clips, your warranty likely will not cover a professional repair. Similarly, if your washing machine started acting up after you dropped a full bottle of detergent on it, your warranty probably won’t replace it.
  2. Regular maintenance—The appliance or system receives maintenance on its recommended schedule. If your home sale includes appliances, ask your realtor to help secure any repair or maintenance documentation from the sellers. A written report from your home inspection also provides documentation of the age and functionality of the appliances and systems within your house. Both records can help you should you need to make a claim.

Many home warranty providers make their customers jump through a few hoops before their claim is approved. Make sure you read and understand your coverage and its exclusions that are outlined in a sample contract before you sign up. All home warranty contracts vary by provider and plan.

Most home warranty providers offer three levels of coverage. Compare home warranty plans below.

  1. Basic coverage plans—Though exact coverage will differ based on where you live, home warranties cover basic appliances and systems in your home. This includes the major systems and appliances that you use every day, such as your heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing system, electrical system, refrigerator, dishwasher, range and oven, built-in microwave, garbage disposal, and water heater. Some basic plans will also cover doorbells, ceiling fans, and smoke detectors. Remember, plans will only cover what is written into the contract. This is the best home warranty plan for homeowners with relatively new appliances and systems that have a lower chance of breaking in the next year.
  2. Enhanced coverage plans—Many home warranty companies offer enhanced coverage plans to cover additional appliances in your home. These plans may include coverage for your washer and dryer, garage door and garage door opener, whirlpool-style bathtubs, septic tank, and wet bar refrigerator. This is the best home warranty plan for homeowners who want total home protection for all of their major appliances and systems.
  3. Add-ons—You may have additional appliances or features that could be covered by a home warranty but aren’t be standard in all houses. Many warranty companies will allow you to add coverage of these items for an additional premium. These may include a pool, spa, hot tub, or outdoor water feature, septic system, well pump, a second HVAC system in a garage, studio, or other detached structure, or a second refrigerator or stand-alone freezer outside of the kitchen. The best home warranty providers have add-on options, which allow customers to customize their plan depending on what they actually have in their homes.

Unlimited coverage on certain appliances and systems is rare but not impossible. More often than not though, a home warranty provider sets spending limits on covered appliances and systems. Your warranty may offer a maximum spending limit of $1,500 on your heating system. Under this warranty, the provider would only cover the repair or replacement cost of a new HVAC system up to $1,500. You’d be responsible for the rest of the bill. Fortunately, your warranty still saves you some money—sometimes thousands of dollars—even if it’s not the full cost of the repair or replacement.

The table below compares the cost to repair or replace a broken system or appliance to the limited amount providers cap coverage at. Use it to determine whether you need additional home appliance insurance. The following repair and replacement costs are based on the national average from HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide. We calculated the average limit amounts using sample contracts from the top home warranty providers we featured above. Note: costs can vary based on your location, the brand and/or model of the appliance or system, and the severity of damage.

Cost to repair Cost to replace Average limit
Systems
Heating $284 $4,249 $1,500
Air conditioner $347 $5,413 $1,500
Plumbing $305 $1,038 $643
Sewer line $2,560 $2,892 $416
Toilets $216 $370 $656
Electrical $317 $1,287 $500
Ductwork $336 $1,142 $544
Water heater $546 $1,065 $1,037
Exhaust fan $253 $372 $500
Ceiling fan $135 $244 $500
Garbage disposal $125 $400 $995
Doorbell $138 $296 $300
Appliances Cost to repair Cost to replace Average limit
Refrigerator $310 $1,925 $1,306
Water dispenser $75 $150 $785
Ice maker $234 $365 $550
Oven/range/stove/cooktop $150 $1,675 $1,607
Built-in microwave $125 $408 $1,485
Dishwasher $150 $1,000 $1,683
Clothes washer $310 $1,250 $1,466
Dryer $250 $1,075 $1,466
Garage door opener $234 $1,077 $916
Optional Cost to repair Cost to replace Average limit
Central vacuum $252 $1,532 $420
Pool $599 $24,293 $700
Septic tank $1,540 $5,609 $162
Sump pump $486 $1,138 $625
Well pump $818 $1,543 $925
Roof leaks $791 $7,518 $600
Not covered Cost to repair Cost to replace Average limit
Water softener $442 $2,200 $0
Sprinkler system $242 $2,430 $0
Alarm system $175 $701 $0
Whole-house air cleaner $281 $1,595 $0
Whole-house humidifier $218 $533 $0

 How much does a home warranty cost?

Home warranty premiums cost $25–$67 for each month of coverage. However, you can often get a better deal if you invest in an annual premium. Home warranties aren’t insurance policies. You can almost always cancel at any time. If you paid in full at the time of signing, the best home warranty providers will refund you the prorated amount of the warranty you haven’t used yet.

The total price of your home warranty will depend on where you live and the level of coverage you chose plus any optional add-ons. The price will not vary due to the age or size of the home unless it’s brand new or larger than 5,000 square feet. Your home warranty will have a set deductible—also known as a service fee—and it will likely have service or repair limits. Most warranty companies charge a non-negotiable, non-refundable service fee of $75–$125 each time a claim is approved. Read your contract to find out if you’ll be charged a service fee for repeat visits if the problem is not resolved during the first appointment. Some providers, like Choice Home Warranty, will charge customers only once—the service fee or the cost of repair/replacement, whichever is less.

The best home warranty

Choice Home Warranty offers comprehensive home warranty coverage that guards against the high cost of repair or replacement on properly maintained major systems and appliances. It offers two plans—a Basic Plan and a Total Plan—with the option to customize add-ons, like coverage for your well pump or a second refrigerator. Because Choice Home Warranty does not deny coverage based on the age of your home or its systems and appliances—as long as you’ve taken good care of them—it gets our vote for best home warranty plan for older homes.

Add-Ons Available
After Hours Service
90-day repair guarantee

The 7 best home warranty companies in 2019

Name

Choice Home Warranty

Description

Best home warranty for: Overall coverage
BBB Rating: B-
Availability: All states except CA and WA
Plans: 2 plans + optional add-ons
Premiums: $29–$42 per month
Service fee: $60–$75

Score
10 / 10
Name

American Home Shield

Description

Best home warranty for: Appliance coverage
BBB Rating: B
Availability: Nationwide
Plans: 4 plans + optional add-ons
Premiums: $20+ per month
Service fee: $75–$125

Score
9.5 / 10
Name

The Home Service Club

Description

Best home warranty for: Fast coverage
BBB Rating: C
Availability: Nationwide
Plans: 2 plans + optional add-ons
Premiums: $33+ per month
Service fee: $65–$125

Score
8.5 / 10
Name

First American

Description

Best home warranty for: Limited exclusions
BBB Rating: B+
Availability: Nationwide
Plans: 2 plans + optional add-ons
Premiums: $28–$50 per month
Service fee: $75

Score
8 / 10
Name

Advanced Home Warranty

Description

Best home warranty for: Nationwide coverage
BBB Rating: N/A
Availability: Nationwide
Plans: 2 plans + optional add-ons
Premiums: $31–$38 per month
Service fee: $60

Score
8 / 10
Name

North American Home Warranty

Description

Best home warranty for: Cheapest home warranty
BBB Rating: N/A
Availability: Nationwide
Plans: 4 plans + optional add-ons
Premiums: $25+ per month
Service fee: $35–$75

Score
8 / 10
Name

Select Home Warranty

Description

Best home warranty for: Comprehensive coverage
BBB Rating: B
Availability: All US states except CA, NV, and WA
Plans: 3 plans + optional add-ons
Premiums: $36–$42
Service fee: $75

Score
8 / 10

 Home warranty vs. home insurance

A home warranty is a service contract that covers core elements of your house—like HVAC, plumbing, water heater, electrical and ductwork, and many appliances—if they malfunction due to age or regular wear and tear from normal use. You’ll likely have the option to buy a home warranty when you close on a house, but a warranty will never be required by your mortgage lender in order to complete the home sale.

Homeowners insurance covers property and structural damage as a result of a fire, natural disaster, or other situations outside your control. However, these policies typically do not cover flood or earthquake damage, as separate insurance is required for some properties based on risk. Homeowners insurance is required by most mortgage lenders and premium payments are usually bundled with your monthly mortgage payment. Beyond structural and property damage, homeowners insurance will cover:

  • Liability—Coverage provided to the homeowner if someone is injured on the property
  • Property loss—Insurance typically covers personal belongings lost through theft or damage
  • Short-term housing costs—Many policies will help cover additional living expenses for temporary housing in the event that your home becomes uninhabitable due to damage or disaster

Homeowners insurance is sold through insurance companies and brokers. If an emergency or theft occurs in your home, you’re responsible for filing a claim. There will be a set deductible—the amount you’re responsible for paying prior to the insurance company—before they start footing the bill.

Home warranty vs. manufacturer’s warranty

Manufacturer’s warranties cover only individual appliances or systems and are issued and administered by the manufacturer of the appliance or system. Here are three common characteristics of manufacturer’s warranties:

  1. Coverage for only one item—A manufacturer’s warranty provides protection for one specific item, covering repairs, service, or replacement of that item and only that item. For example, if your LG washer is covered by LG’s manufacturer warranty but your LG dryer breaks, the warranty will not cover it—even if they are made by the same company—in this case, LG.
  2. Non-transferable—Manufacturer’s warranties rarely transfer when ownership of the house changes. If you recently purchased a home that contains new appliances or a new HVAC or alarm system, it is unlikely that the warranty—if the previous owner held a policy—would transfer to you. If you do purchase a home with appliances already installed, you may work with your agent and the seller’s agent to identify whether a warranty will transfer. Additionally, you may wish to invest your own time in calling each manufacturer to see whether the warranty is transferable—if is it, put the warranty in your name.
  3. Additional cost—It is likely that you will spend more money on manufacturer’s warranties in the long run than you would if you had purchased a home warranty. Manufacturer’s warranties must be purchased—and maintained—on an annual ad hoc basis.

 Who needs a home warranty?

A home warranty makes sense for just about everyone.

  • If you’re buying your first house—Buying a house is overwhelming and expensive. On closing day, you’ll likely have a tight budget and a long list of home improvement projects to do. Fortunately, the anticipation of costly repairs can be subsided by investing in a home warranty. First-time home buyers can buy themselves some peace of mind and save thousands of dollars by dishing out $30 a month for a basic home warranty plan. You can always cancel once you’ve settled in.
  • If you own an older home—Things break as your home’s systems and appliances break. Your house gets that lovely lived-in look, but your appliances will eventually cave to years of wear and tear. A home warranty can be a great birthday present to a 10-year-old house and its appliances.
  • If you’re selling your house—You’ve finally gotten your house in tip-top shape. You’ve boosted curb appeal, given each room a fresh coat of paint, and remodeled the kitchen. You’re ready to list it and then—boom. You’re HVAC goes out. A home warranty will cover these repairs when your house on the market—so you can keep it up and running for potential buyers. It’s also a great marketing tool since sellers can transfer the warranty to the buyers, offering them coverage for the first year.
  • If you’re a real estate agent—As mentioned above, a home warranty plan can be an incentive to home buyers who are anxious about potential repairs. As a listing agent, it can also ease your mind if the sellers who you’re representing can fix issues that come up while the house is for sale.
  • If you rent your property—Home warranty coverage also lends peace of mind to rental property owners who rent houses to tenants, like college students. Rental property owners can bake a home warranty price into their overall rental fees to cover the costs. If you rent multiple properties, you can expedite maintenance by submitting claims through an 800 number that’s often available 24/7. The warranty provider will send out a licensed contractor for you, saving your small management team time, money, and energy.

 

Ready to sign up?

What to look for in a home warranty company

  • Provides a sample contract online—a recommendation by the Service Contract Industry Council
  • Crystal clear service agreements—exclusions and limits are clearly defined
  • Generous coverage with caps above $500
  • A variety of plan options—we rewarded a point to providers with more than three plan options
  • Delivers the best value to customers—premiums and coverage are well-balanced and below $600 per year
  • A low service fee—we deducted a point if fees were above $100
  • Responsive customer service that’s available after hours, doesn’t put customers on hold, and refrains from an aggressive sales pitch
  • An easy claims process—you can submit claims online or call an 800 number that’s available 24/7
  • Quick turnaround on claims—we rewarded a point to providers who schedule service appointments within 48 hours of approving a claim
  • A positive reputation that’s backed by customer reviews
  • A high BBB rating—a C or above
  • National availability
  • Bonus points were given to providers with extra perk programs, like appliance discounts and referral bonuses

Our conclusion

So, what is the best home warranty? We think Choice Home Warranty is the best home warranty provider overall. It has two plan options plus optional coverage for additional items, competitive pricing with regular promotions, and a 90-day repair guarantee. If you’re looking for something in particular though, like fast coverage or home warranty coverage for specific appliances, then compare home warranties below.

Company Best home warranty for Plan options Service fees Additional perks Risks to consider
Choice Home Warranty Overall 2 + add-ons $60–$75 90-day repair guarantee, freon fully covered (most companies charge $10 per pound), first month free (available on a promotional basis), referral reward Coverage by CHW is not available in California or Washington
American Home Shield Appliance coverage 4 + add-ons $75–$125 Up to $3,000 limit on appliances, cost to dispose of old appliances covered, discounts on appliances and plans for multiple properties, $25 referral reward Higher service fees and longer wait times than most providers
The Home Service Club Fast coverage 2 + add-ons $65–$125 Only a 10-day waiting period for coverage to kick in (most waiting periods are 30 days long), 1-5 months free with 1- to 5-year plans (available on a promotional basis) Higher service fees than most providers
First American  Limited exclusions  2 + add-ons  $75  Covers improperly installed or insufficiently maintained systems and appliances, no cap on coverage for heating, cooling, and ductwork  A sample contract is difficult for homeowners to access online
Advanced Home Warranty Nationwide coverage 2 + add-ons $60 First month free available on a promotional basis  Young company—not BBB accredited
North American Cheapest home warranty 4 + add-ons $35–$75 Lower service fees and premiums, and no minimum contract length for monthly coverage Coverage is limited during the first 3 months
Select Home Warranty Comprehensive coverage 3 + add-ons $75 Offers optional roof leak and septic system coverage, get 2 extra months free and $100 off annual plans on a promotional basis Customers have reported longer wait times on claims

Home warranty reviews

Choice Home Warranty reviews

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives Choice Home Warranty a B- rating based on 1,400 customer reviews. Consumers Advocate gives the company a 9 out of 10 rating based on 2,946 customer comments. ConsumerAffairs gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars based on 2,543 customer ratings. Here’s what customers have to say:

“Our claim to repair our clothes dryer was processed quickly and an experienced brand certified technician was sent to diagnose the problem. The technician knew right away what the problem was. He came back the following day with the part and fixed the dryer. Very good service! We are completely satisfied with this claim and the time it took to repair.”— Jaya M. on December 18, 2018

“This is the first time I have used my home warranty. I can honestly say it was a great experience. My oven control panel stopped working. Choice Home Warranty set up everything. Five years ago, I had to replace the same part and it cost $455.73. This time, it cost me $60.00—the service fee. Great experience. Thank you, Choice Home Warranty.” —Frank H. on December 11, 2018

“Awesome service and very timely with repairs. My water heater stopped working and within 12 hours, a repairman was onsite fixing the issue, and got us up and running again. Thank you!”—Fabian H. on December 10, 2018

American Home Shield reviews

The BBB gives American Home Shield a B rating based on 2,929 customer reviews. This BBB rating recently improved after the company began responding to negative reviews. Consumers Advocate gives the company a 9.7 out of 10 rating based on 2,995 customer comments. ConsumerAffairs gives it 4 out of 5 stars based on 10,894 customer ratings. Here’s what customers have to say:

“Their response time is outstanding, and they send top-quality people to do the repair work. They also follow up to make sure that the work was properly done. [I] have used them for one and a half years and am very pleased.” —Mark S. on December 17, 2018

“Our American Home Shield techs are always patient, thorough, and take the time to explain our heating system to us so that we understand the issues and know how to correct them if [and] when they occur again. They are always timely, courteous, and professional!”—Lauren V. D. on December 17, 2018

First American Home Warranty reviews

The BBB gives America’s 1st Choice a B+ rating based on 850 customer reviews. Consumers Advocate gives the company a 9 out of 10 rating based on 386 customer comments. ConsumerAffairs gives it 3.5 out of 5 stars based on 1,211 customer ratings. Here’s what customers have to say:

“We had a dishwasher break. It was a high-end dishwasher. You know, the technician came out and determined that it was kaput. It could not be fixed. I think it was within 48 hours, we had a brand-new dishwasher of the same make, same quality, put in, which was hundreds upon hundreds of dollars in savings.”—Jeff Z.

“If something happened and we weren’t covered with First American, I can’t even imagine how expensive it would be. Because things do go wrong when you own a home. You could have one problem one day then, two weeks later it’s something else. So, no matter how many times it happens, you know you’re covered.”—Lisa M.

Questions to ask an agent

What does the warranty cover?

Many complaints are due to a customer’s misunderstanding of coverage, which is frustrating for all parties involved. Deciphering and comprehending these service agreements are tricky. If you’re trying to make sense of excessive jargon and exclusions in a sample contract, take it as a red flag and look elsewhere.

  1. First, ask whether the age or brand of your home’s systems and appliances matter. The answer should be no.
  2. Then, ask if the plan covers systems or appliances or both. Reflect on what you’d like to cover and choose your plan accordingly.
  3. Consider older appliances in your home or ones you use on a daily basis. Ask if they’re covered. If not, ask if you can add them onto your plan for an extra fee.
  4. Read the fine print beneath systems and appliances. Different home warranties will cover a refrigerator, but not an ice maker. Others will cover your exhaust fan, but won’t cut into the ceiling to replace it.
  5. Note the amount the provider is willing to pay-out. This limited amount often covers repair costs, but not always the total cost of a replacement plus installation.

How much will it cost?

Home warranties cost $300–$800 per year, but we recommend narrowing your search to providers with premiums that cost $600 or less. We’ve heard several complaints of providers raising their prices year after year. Unfortunately, this is common as the demand for home warranty increases. You can always ask if you can lock in a price at the time of signing. Sometimes home warranty companies will guarantee your rate if you pay for a three-year plan. This is a large sum of money upfront, but you can usually cancel at any time and receive a refund of the amount you don’t use. Ask the company about cancellation policies and fees. We’ve seen fees range from $50 to $75.

How does the claims process work?

When something breaks unexpectedly, you’ll want peace of mind that it’ll be handled as soon as possible. Most home warranty companies require customers to submit a claim within three days of the system or appliance breaking. You can submit a claim online or by calling an 800 number. Evaluate the situation before requesting service. If the item didn’t fail or malfunction due to age or normal wear and tear, it’s likely not covered and you’ll end up paying a $75 service fee for nothing. Note: it can take 48 hours to four days for providers to approve your claim and schedule service. Before you cancel, remember that most providers will charge you a service fee as soon as the technician is en route. Home warranty providers reserve the right to send a contractor within their own network. You should not hire your own contractor and expect to be reimbursed by the provider.

What’s your service fee?

Service fees are usually $75–$125. These are non-negotiable and non-refundable and every home warranty provider charges one. However, you should always ask if you’ll be charged for repeat visits if the problem persists. You should also follow up with the scenario in which you’re unhappy with the service the provider’s contractor provides. Will they send a different technician on the next visit or whether you can get a second opinion. Another perk you can inquire about is whether the provider will charge the lesser amount between the service fee and the actual cost of the repair or replacement.

Will a broken item be repaired or replaced?

Customers with old and worn appliances and systems should ask whether the provider will replace a covered item that it cannot repair? The majority of service agreements state the home warranty company is responsible for repairing or replacing the system or appliance back to working order that’s up to code, but it is not responsible for matching the brand, model, or color of the item they’re replacing.

Are there limits as to how much a plan will pay out?

If the provider will replace a covered item that’s beyond repair, ask if they’ll cover the total cost of the item. Most home warranty companies limit how much they’ll pay out. Usually, the provider will pay between $1,500 and $2,000 for heating and cooling, up to $500 for plumbing and electrical, and anywhere from $500 to $3,000 for appliances depending on your coverage.


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