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By Edgar J. Nieves
Updated: November 23, 2021 11:07 AM ET | Originally published: November 1, 2021
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Best for Roof Coverage
Most Add-OnsBest PremiumsMost Flexible PlanBest Appliance Plan
SelectLiberty Home GuardAFC Home ClubAmerican Home ShieldFirst American
Our PartnerOur PartnerOur PartnerOur PartnerOur Partner
Number of Plans

3

3

4

4

2

Service Fees

$60-$75

$65-$125

$75, $100, $125

$75, $10, $125

$85

Monthly Cost*

$49 - $55

$45 - $55

$39 - $67

$35 - $65

$33 - $45

Service Guarantee

90 days

60 days

Life of contract

30 days

90-day parts, 30-day labor

State Availability

46 states, not available in NV, WI, WA, NY

45 states, not available in CA, IL, WA, WI, WY

Contiguous US

Contiguous US

35 states and Washington DC

Major Home Systems Covered

Air conditioners, plumbing, heating, electrical and roof leaks.

Air conditioners, plumbing, heating, electrical and roof leak.

Air conditioners, plumbing, heating, and electrical.

Air conditioners, plumbing, heating, electrical and roof leak.

Plumbing, heating and electrical.

Best for Roof Coverage
Select
Our Partner
Check Price
Number of Plans

3

Service Fees

$60-$75

Monthly Cost*

$49 - $55

Service Guarantee

90 days

State Availability

46 states, not available in NV, WI, WA, NY

Major Home Systems Covered

Air conditioners, plumbing, heating, electrical and roof leaks.

Most Add-Ons
Liberty Home Guard
Our Partner
Check Price
Number of Plans

3

Service Fees

$65-$125

Monthly Cost*

$45 - $55

Service Guarantee

60 days

State Availability

45 states, not available in CA, IL, WA, WI, WY

Major Home Systems Covered

Air conditioners, plumbing, heating, electrical and roof leak.

Best Premiums
AFC Home Club
Our Partner
Check Price
Number of Plans

4

Service Fees

$75, $100, $125

Monthly Cost*

$39 - $67

Service Guarantee

Life of contract

State Availability

Contiguous US

Major Home Systems Covered

Air conditioners, plumbing, heating, and electrical.

Most Flexible Plan
American Home Shield
Our Partner
Check Price
Number of Plans

4

Service Fees

$75, $10, $125

Monthly Cost*

$35 - $65

Service Guarantee

30 days

State Availability

Contiguous US

Major Home Systems Covered

Air conditioners, plumbing, heating, electrical and roof leak.

Best Appliance Plan
First American
Our Partner
Check Price
Number of Plans

2

Service Fees

$85

Monthly Cost*

$33 - $45

Service Guarantee

90-day parts, 30-day labor

State Availability

35 states and Washington DC

Major Home Systems Covered

Plumbing, heating and electrical.

A home warranty can pay for the repair or replacement of home systems and appliances when they break down as a result of malfunction, or normal wear and tear.

It can be a real lifesaver when faced with stressful and expensive home repairs — or add to your frustrations if you find out it excludes the appliances or systems that you need to repair just when they break down.

Here’s our list of the best home warranty companies for November 2021 to help you find the right protection plan for your home.

Our top picks for best home warranties

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Best home warranty reviews

Pros
  • Largest home warranty service provider in the country
  • Highly customizable plans
  • Offers coverage for home electronics
Cons
  • Repairs are only guaranteed for 30 days
  • Plans unavailable in Alaska
  • Roof leak coverage unavailable
Service Fees
$75, $100, $125
State Availability
Nationwide, except Alaska
Number of Plans
3
BBB Rating
B
Service Fees
$75, $100, $125
State Availability
Nationwide, except Alaska
Number of Plans
3
BBB Rating
B
Service Fees
$75, $100, $125
State Availability
Nationwide, except Alaska
Number of Plans
3
BBB Rating
B

Why we chose this company: American Home Shield has fewer restrictions in coverage than most competitors, and its three plans cover more than 23 home appliances and systems.

With American Home Shield, clients can choose from three comprehensive plans and customize them by adding coverage for other systems and appliances, including home electronics and entertainment products.

  • Old items, regardless of age
  • Repairs due to insufficient maintenance
  • Malfunctions due to rust, corrosion or sediment
  • Improper installations
  • Undetected pre-existing conditions
  • Items without maintenance records
  • Removal of defective items
  • Duplicates of the same item (or appliance)

AHS offers three comprehensive plans — ShieldSilver, ShieldGold and ShieldPlatinum — that together cover more than 23 home appliances and systems. In addition, its premium plan, ShieldPlatinum, covers roof leaks, HVAC tune-ups, code violations and AC refrigerant.

You can also add coverage for other systems and appliances, such as septic pumps, pools, home electronics, entertainment products and guest units.

Monthly payments vary depending on the state and the selected repair service fee, which can be adjusted from $75, $100, or $125 per service call.

ShieldSilver ($34.99/mo.) ShieldGold ($44.99/mo.) ShieldPlatinum ($64.99/mo.)
Air Conditioners Air Conditioners Air Conditioners
Heating Units Heating Units Heating Units
Ductwork Ductwork Ductwork
Built-in Exhaust, Vent & Attic Fans Built-in Exhaust, Vent & Attic Fans Built-in Exhaust, Vent & Attic Fans
Main Breaker & Fuse Panel Box Main Breaker & Fuse Panel Box Main Breaker & Fuse Panel Box
Doorbells & Chimes Doorbells & Chimes Doorbells & Chimes
Interior Electrical Lines Interior Electrical Lines Interior Electrical Lines
Ceiling Fans Ceiling Fans Ceiling Fans
Garage Door Openers Garage Door Openers Garage Door Openers
Interior Plumbing Interior Plumbing Interior Plumbing
Toilet, Faucets & Valves Toilet, Faucets & Valves Toilet, Faucets & Valves
Whirlpool Tub Motor & Components Whirlpool Tub Motor & Components Whirlpool Tub Motor & Components
Water Heaters Water Heaters Water Heaters
Kitchen Refrigerators Kitchen Refrigerators
Ranges/Cooktops/Ovens Ranges/Cooktops/Ovens
Dishwashers Dishwashers
Built-in Microwaves Built-in Microwaves
Garbage Disposals Garbage Disposals
Clothes Washers Clothes Washers
Clothes Dryers Clothes Dryers
Roof Leak Repairs
FREE HVAC Tune-up
Unlimited A/C Refrigerant
Coverage for code violations and permits
Pros
  • Covers improperly installed or maintained systems and appliances
  • Affordable basic plan options with competitive coverage
  • Unlimited service calls
Cons
  • Only two plans available, no systems-only plan
  • Limited list of add-ons
Service Fees
$50 - $100
State Availability
35 states
Number of Plans
2
BBB Rating
B
Service Fees
$50 - $100
State Availability
35 states
Number of Plans
2
BBB Rating
B
Service Fees
$50 - $100
State Availability
35 states
Number of Plans
2
BBB Rating
B

Why we chose this company: First American Home Warranty offers a very comprehensive basic plan, low service fees and affordable monthly payments.

With First American Home Warranty’s Basic Plan, you get comprehensive coverage for 10 costly-to-repair appliances for about $33 a month.

Bear in mind that this basic plan offers coverage for appliances only, which includes washers, dryers, refrigerators, garbage disposals and trash compactors. Clients who need coverage for both appliances and systems will have to opt for the company’s Premier Plan.

Both plans cover damages caused by lack of maintenance, rust, corrosion and chemical or sedimentary build-up, which is vital if you’re buying an older home.

For $9 per month, you can upgrade any of their two plans to “First Class”, an optional service that includes coverage for malfunctions due to improper installations, modifications and previous repairs. It also covers expenses associated with building permits, hauling and the use of cranes or lifting equipment.

Service fees range from $50 up to $100, depending on your plan and region. Additionally, appliances have a payout limit of up to $3,500 for diagnosis, repairs and replacements.

Basic ($33.00/mo.) Premier ($45.00/mo.)
Attic and Exhaust Fans Attic and Exhaust Fans
Ceiling Fans Ceiling Fans
Clothes Washer and Dryer Clothes Washer and Dryer
Dishwasher Dishwasher
Garbage Disposal Garbage Disposal
Instant Hot Water Dispenser Instant Hot Water Dispenser
Kitchen Refrigerator Kitchen Refrigerator
Built-in Microwave Oven Built-in Microwave Oven
Oven/Range/Cooktop Oven/Range/Cooktop
Trash Compactor Trash Compactor
Central Vacuum System
Ductwork
Electrical
Garage Door Dispenser
Heating
Plumbing
Plumbing Stoppages
Water Heater

 

Pros
  • Over 20 items of additional coverage options
  • 60-day workmanship guarantee on repairs
  • Overwhelmingly positive BBB reviews
Cons
  • Does not service California, Illinois, Washington, Wisconsin or Wyoming
  • Relatively low payout limits
Service Fees
$60 - $125
State Availability
45 states
Number of Plans
3
BBB Rating
A+
Service Fees
$60 - $125
State Availability
45 states
Number of Plans
3
BBB Rating
A+
Service Fees
$60 - $125
State Availability
45 states
Number of Plans
3
BBB Rating
A+

Why we chose this company: Liberty Home Guard has the most extensive list of add-ons in the market, including rarely covered items such as gutter cleaning.

Liberty Home Guard stands out for its list of possible add-ons. Customers can choose from around 20 items to add to their coverage — the most extensive list of add-ons in the home warranty market.

The list includes items commonly found in other providers — pools, spas, well pumps, sump pumps, central vacuums — and other, more rarely covered items such as limited roof leaks, replacing locks, gutter cleaning, pest control and electronics protection.

Liberty Home Guard offers three types of plans: one for appliances, one for systems, and one that covers both. Liberty covers popular systems and appliances such as air conditioning, heating, plumbing, electrical, washers, dryers and refrigerators.

Additionally, a realtor portal allows real estate agents to partner with Liberty Home Guard so that you can purchase a home warranty before the closing date. This is particularly useful if you want your protection plan to start immediately after closing your mortgage deal.

Their service fee ranges from $65 to $125, with a payout limit of $1,600 per covered item.

Appliance Guard ($44.99/mo.) Systems Guard ($49.99/mo.) Total Home Guard ($54.99/mo.)
Clothes Washer Air Conditioning Clothes Washer
Clothes Dryer Heating Clothes Dryer
Kitchen Refrigerator Ductwork Kitchen Refrigerator
Built-in Microwave Ovens Plumbing Built-in Microwave Ovens
Dishwashers Electrical Dishwashers
Garbage Disposals Water Heaters Garbage Disposals
Ranges/Ovens/Cooktops Ranges/Ovens/Cooktops
Ceiling and Exhaust Fans Ceiling and Exhaust Fans
Garage Door Openers Garage Door Openers
Air Conditioning
Heating
Ductwork
Plumbing
Electrical
Water Heaters
Pros
  • A variety of additional benefits, from discounts to credit monitoring
  • Clients can choose their own technicians
  • Platinum Plan covers microwave ovens, ice makers and plumbing stoppages
Cons
  • One-day period for reporting issues with a system or appliance
  • $75 plan cancellation fee
Service Fees
$75, $100, $125
State Availability
Nationwide, except HI
Number of Plans
4
BBB Rating
B
Service Fees
$75, $100, $125
State Availability
Nationwide, except HI
Number of Plans
4
BBB Rating
B
Service Fees
$75, $100, $125
State Availability
Nationwide, except HI
Number of Plans
4
BBB Rating
B

Why we chose this company: AFC Home Club has four different plans, including two hybrid ones (that cover both systems and appliances), and lets you choose your own service contractors.

AFC Home Club (America’s First Choice) caught our attention for its affordable premiums. AFC’s plans include a systems plan, an appliances plan and two hybrid plans covering both systems and appliances.

As with other providers, AFC pricing depends on the chosen service fee ($75, $100, $125). Monthly premiums for one year contracts range from $40 for the Silver Plan up to $67 for the most comprehensive Platinum Plan (depending on your location).

However, customers can choose between a one-year contract or a three-year contract term, saving up to 10% per month if they choose the three-year option. For instance, for AFC Home Club’s System or Silver Plan, customers would pay between $40 and $55 a month for their Gold and Platinum plan.

In addition, AFC Home Club has one of the strongest service guarantees in the industry: both parts and labor are guaranteed for the life of the contract. This means that you don’t have to pay if you experience the same problem after a repair.

Silver Plans ($39.42/mo.) Gold Plan ($56.25/mo.) Platinum Plan ($61.92/mo.) Systems ($47.83/mo.)
Clothes Dryer Clothes Dryer Clothes Dryer Air Conditioning/Cooler
Clothes Washer Clothes Washer Clothes Washer Heating Systems
Kitchen Refrigerator Kitchen Refrigerator Kitchen Refrigerator Water Heater
Oven Oven Oven Electrical System
Range Range Range Plumbing System
Dishwasher Dishwasher Ice Maker Ductwork
Garbage Disposal Garbage Disposal Dishwasher
Garage Door Opener Garage Door Opener Built-in Microwave
Air Conditioning/Cooler Garbage Disposal
Heating System Garage Door Opener
Water Heater Air Conditioning/Cooler
Electrical System Heating System
Plumbing System Water Heater
Ductwork Electrical System
Plumbing Stoppages
Plumbing System
Ductwork
Pros
  • Free roof leak coverage
  • 90-day repair guarantee
  • Discounts for multi-year plans
Cons
  • Unavailable in New York, Nevada, Washington or Wisconsin
  • Low coverage caps for many home services
  • Homeowners must provide 3 years of maintenance records to guarantee coverage on some systems
Service Fees
$60 - $75
State Availability
46 states
Number of Plans
3
BBB Rating
B
Service Fees
$60 - $75
State Availability
46 states
Number of Plans
3
BBB Rating
B
Service Fees
$60 - $75
State Availability
46 states
Number of Plans
3
BBB Rating
B

Why we chose this company: Select Home Warranty plans include free roof leak coverage, plus the company offers multiple discount promotions throughout the year.

Select Home Warranty offers some notable discounts, including two months' free service if the plan is paid annually, and special multi-year discounts when you sign up for more than one year up front. The company also has occasional promotions that knock off between $100 and $200 for new sign-ups.

Select has three plans: Bronze Care, Gold Care and Platinum Care, which cost between $52 and $55 per month. Bronze Care covers appliances, while Gold Care focuses on systems. The most expensive plan, Platinum Care, combines both for more comprehensive coverage. Service fees range between $60 and $75. In addition, all three plans include free roof coverage which covers roof leak repairs.

Do note that the company may cap payouts per system or appliance at $150 if you can’t provide three years’ worth of maintenance records. Other than that, HVAC systems are capped at $2,000, and appliances at $500. Extra coverage options are capped at $400 for repair or replacement.

Bronze Care ($49.00/mo.) Gold Care ($49.00/mo.) Platinum Care ($55.00/mo.)
Clothes Washer A/C, Cooling A/C, Cooling
Garbage Disposal Heating System Heating System
Refrigerator Plumbing System Plumbing System
Stove/Oven Electrical System Electrical System
Built-in Microwave Water Heater Water Heater
Cooktop Ductwork Ductwork
Dishwasher Roof Coverage Clothes Washer
Clothes Dryer Garbage Disposal
Roof Coverage Refrigerator
Stove/Oven
Built-in Microwave
Cooktop
Dishwasher
Clothes Dryer
Garage Door Openers
Ceiling Fan
Roof Coverage

Pros
  • Available in contiguous US
  • 180-day workmanship guarantee
  • Plans include rust and corrosion coverage
  • Covers unknown pre-existing conditions
Cons
  • Higher deductibles than some competitors, from $100 to $150
  • Additional coverage options only available while getting a quote
Service Fees
$100, $125, $150
State Availability
48 states, not available in AK, HI
Number of Plans
3
BBB Rating
B+
Service Fees
$100, $125, $150
State Availability
48 states, not available in AK, HI
Number of Plans
3
BBB Rating
B+
Service Fees
$100, $125, $150
State Availability
48 states, not available in AK, HI
Number of Plans
3
BBB Rating
B+

Why we chose this company: Cinch Home Services’ system plan includes coverage for items that other companies offer as an add-on, such as sump pumps, water dispensers and smoke detectors.

Like other contenders in our list, Cinch Home Services offers three warranty plans: one for appliances, another for systems and a complete home plan, which covers both.

What stands out about Cinch plans is that they include coverage for items that other companies consider add-ons. For instance, Cinch’s appliance plan includes coverage for freestanding ice makers and built-in food centers.

The systems plan covers sump pumps, doorbells, smoke detectors and tankless water heaters.

The complete home plan, on the other hand, offers up to $500 in reimbursement to cover homeowners insurance deductibles.

In addition, all plans come with a water sensor to detect leaks (which Cinch delivers after the first payment), and include a $25 credit for an air conditioner or water filter.

Cinch services are backed with a 180-day workmanship guarantee on work performed. This is considerably longer than the 30- and 90-day guarantee most companies offer (except for AFC Home Club, which offers a service guarantee for the life of the contract).

Other benefits include coverage for unknown pre-existing conditions and for malfunctions caused by rust and corrosion.
It does have one drawback: Cinch has higher service fees than other contenders in our list, with fees starting at $100 to $150.

 

Appliances ($27.99/mo.) Built-in Systems ($32.99/mo.) Complete Home ($39.99/mo.)
Refrigerators Air conditioning Refrigerators
Ranges Ductwork Ranges
Cooktops Attic Fans Cooktops
Range exhaust hoods Central vacuums Clothes dryers
Clothes Dryer Doorbells Clothes washers
Clothes washers Electrical system Dishwashers
Dishwashers Garage door opener Built-in food centers
Built-in food centers Built-in exhaust Freestanding ice makers
Freestanding ice makers Lighting fixtures Microwaves
Built-in microwaves Garbage disposal Wall ovens
Wall ovens Heating system Trash compactors
Trash compactors Instant hot/cold water dispensers Air conditioning
Water sensor Plumbing system Ductwork
Smoke detectors Attic fans
Sump pump Central vacuums
Toilets, faucets and valves Doorbells
Water heater (including tankless water heaters) Electrical system
Whirlpool / jetted tub Garage door opener
Water sensor Built-in exhaust
Lighting fixtures
Garbage disposal
Heating system
Instant hot/cold water dispensers
Plumbing system
Smoke detectors
Sump pump
Toilets, faucets and valves
Water heater (including tankless water heaters)
Whirlpool/jetted tub
Water sensor

Other home warranty companies we considered

We researched a wide array of companies in order to find the best home warranty. The following are companies that didn’t make it to our final cut.

Amazon Home Warranty

Pros
  • Standard service call fee of $75 for all plans.
  • Optional add-ons include coverage for stand-alone freezers and wine refrigerators.
Cons
  • Plans cover fewer items compared to competitors.
  • Company's BBB accreditation is currently revoked.
  • The Arizona Attorney General filed a lawsuit against AHW for allegedly misrepresenting the quality of its services and making false claims.

Landmark Home Warranty

Pros
  • Monthly cost ranges from $35 up to $62 with service calls of $70 and $100
  • Plans include coverage for pest control and subterranean termite treatments
  • Roof leak repair available as an add-on
Cons
  • Only available in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Utah
  • Not accredited by the BBB

Choice Home Warranty

Pros
  • Affordable plans
  • Standard service call fee of $85.
Cons
  • Lacks flexibility in its coverage options.
  • The Arizona Attorney General filed a lawsuit against CHW for allegedly making false promises to customers.
  • Unavailable in California and Washington.
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Home warranty guide

This guide covers the basics on what a home warranty is, the different types of coverage plans they offer and how to determine whether that monthly premium is actually worth it. It also includes important factors to consider before you choose the best plan for you.

What is a home warranty?

A home warranty is a service contract that helps you pay for repairs if and when major household systems or appliances break down.

It can be the perfect complement to your homeowners insurance policy, because while that pays for damages caused by unexpected events and perils (fire, theft and weather events), home warranties pay for the repair or replacement of appliances and systems that malfunction due to normal wear and tear.

A home warranty could save you money if your appliances and systems are reaching the end of their usable life. What’s more, real estate agents often recommend buying a home warranty if you’re selling your home for two reasons:

  • It can cover a system or appliance in case it breaks during or after the listing process, and
  • It adds value and attracts homebuyers who worry about unforeseen home repair costs if they buy your house.

Do note that if your home needs a major makeover, and you need to upgrade appliances that aren’t in need of repair yet, a home improvement loan is a better option. (Make sure to check out our How to Get a Home Improvement Loan guide to get you started.)

What is the difference between a home warranty and home insurance?

The main difference between a home warranty and homeowners insurance is what each one covers and under what circumstances.

A home insurance policy will cover expenses if your house or personal property are damaged by perils like fires and theft; a home warranty, on the other hand, covers the cost of repairing or replacing systems and appliances after breakdowns, malfunctions and normal wear and tear.

A home warranty service can also find a qualified service contractor in your area to perform repairs and installations.

Another key difference is that a home warranty is optional, whereas homeowners insurance is required by lenders as part of the mortgage process.

What does a home warranty cover?

Generally, home warranty companies offer coverage for the same array of home systems and appliances. Some companies also offer optional coverage options — also called add-ons or riders — that you can include for an extra fee.

Companies use a wide range of names for their different plans — Gold, Platinum, Bronze, Basic, Premier, etc. — but most plans fall into three basic categories: a systems plan, an appliances plan and a hybrid or combo plan, which covers both.

Most Common Home Systems Covered: Most Common Home Appliances Covered Most Frequently Covered Add-Ons
Heating and air conditioning (HVAC system) Refrigerators Pools and in-ground spas
Plumbing systems Laundry machines (clothes washer, dryers) Septic system / Septic tank pumping system
Electrical systems Ranges, stoves, ovens & cooktops Well pumps
Water heaters Built-in microwave ovens Sump pumps
Ductwork Garbage disposals Ceiling fans
Doorbells Garage door opener Smoke detectors
Central vacuums Dishwashers Standalone freezer or second refrigerator
Ceiling fans and exhausts Trash compactors Lawn sprinkler system

Are home warranties worth it?

Yes, a Home Warranty is worth it if: A Home Warranty might not be worth it if:
You're purchasing a previously built home, since systems may be approaching the end of their lifespan (usually 5-10 years) You're purchasing a newly built home, since new construction usually comes with a warranty from the builder for systems for up to 10 years
The appliances in your house are currently working, but weren't purchased recently New appliances usually come with a manufacturer's warranty, and some credit cards also offer extended warranties
You don't know mechanics or contractors in your area, or good DIY skills You have established relationships with contractors or maintenance people, or are good at DIY-ing repairs

You’re more likely to be happy with your home warranty plan if you:

  • Evaluate your home’s appliances and determine they're currently working properly (warranties do not pay to fix items that are already broken)
  • Read sample contracts paying special attention to the appliances you already have, and read about how the policies may treat claims on these in particular
  • Find and choose a reputable company

How do you measure the value of a home warranty?

If you end up paying less for the warranty than what you’d pay for in-home repairs without it, you know you’ve got a good deal. If you find it difficult to budget for emergencies, a home warranty might also be a good idea since it forces you to pay for something monthly rather than all at once.

  • Best-case scenario: Your service fee ranges from $75 to $150 (along with your annual premiums) and you get a major system or appliance fixed or replaced. Not a big and unexpected hit to your wallet. You sleep easy at night.
  • Worst-case scenario: You pay the warranty’s premiums for several years, plus an upfront service fee for a home service call, and then learn that your warranty’s limitations prevent the plan from helping when you need it.

Customer experience with home warranty companies usually reflects one of these two extremes, and most happy home warranty customers have higher payout caps and fewer plan restrictions.

How soon can you use a home warranty after purchase?

In most cases, your contract won’t be effective until 31 days after the date of purchase. If a system or appliance in your home were to break down during the 30-day waiting period, it’s possible that you won’t be able to request service or that only part of the repair would be covered.

If you buy your home warranty as part of a real estate transaction, your coverage should start on the day of closing.

How do I cancel my home warranty?

First, call the home warranty company and make sure to get the name of the sales representative you talk to.

In some cases, you may need to send a written notice of termination, which you should send via registered post or courier if possible, to make tracking easier. If your payments are automated from a credit card or bank account, make sure to cancel with the corresponding institution. Finally, it may be a good idea to request a written confirmation of the cancellation directly from the company.

Please note that most companies charge a cancellation fee that can range from $25 to $75, or 10% penalty of the outstanding fee. This means you may receive a prorated refund. However, companies typically provide a full refund if you cancel within the first 30 days of purchase.

What voids a home warranty?

Each home warranty provider has its own set of rules regarding what voids your home warranty for a specific system or appliance. In some cases, this can include:

  • Unauthorized repairs, whether by using an unapproved contractor (licensed or not) or attempting to do the repairs yourself
  • Home improvement projects
  • Failing to keep your home up to building codes
  • Misplacing ownership documentation

The “proper maintenance” gray area

Sometimes home warranty coverage is contingent on the “proper maintenance” of systems and appliances. This means repairs won’t be covered if the malfunction was caused by a failure to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance specifications. However, companies often don’t provide clear guidelines as to what constitutes proper routine maintenance.

Some contracts give concrete examples such as:

  • Changing filters
  • Flushing the water heater
  • Sanitizing your water filter
  • Keeping proper refrigerant levels
  • Cleaning coils

However, coverage will ultimately depend on whether the home warranty’s service technicians decide there was proper maintenance.

TIP: If you buy a home warranty, we recommend you take pictures and document that maintenance of the appliances is being routinely performed.

Brand-new systems and appliances

If you’ve just installed new appliances or bought a brand new home, your appliances will probably already be protected by a manufacturer’s warranty. Since a home warranty won’t cover anything that’s already covered under another type of warranty, you might want to consult with a professional as to whether you need one.

Most homeowners prefer that the manufacturer — Whirlpool, Samsung, GE, etc. — repair their own products if the appliances remain under a manufacturer’s warranty.

How to choose the best home warranty for you

As you browse home warranty companies and plans, keep the following things in mind before signing on that dotted line.

Get different quotes and compare

Get at least three free quotes. If you have questions about pricing and coverage, clear them with a representative.

Read sample contracts

Identify the limitations and exclusions in the contract and check payout limits.

When in doubt about budgeting maintenance and replacement costs, remember the 1% rule and the square foot rule — although bear in mind that both are very rough estimates:

  • 1% rule: When you purchase a home, set aside one percent of its total cost for repairs and maintenance.
  • Square foot rule: Budget about $1 a year for every square foot of livable space for the eventual replacement of a roof or major systems.

Differences in state licensing

Research and review home warranty regulations to ensure the company is licensed and legally allowed to do business in your state.

The insurance commissioner or Department of Consumer Protection oversees home warranty companies in many states. Check out this State Licensing Guide to find your local regulator.

Liability limitations

Remember, appliances with active manufacturer warranties, malfunction resulting from rust, corrosion, toxic materials, improper installation, or pre-existing conditions (known or unknown) are typically not covered by a home warranty.

Companies are also not liable for repairs of cosmetic defects, routine maintenance, or malfunctions caused by acts of nature such as fire, flood, earthquakes or storms. (The latter are covered by homeowners insurance or flood insurance policies.)

Reputation

The best home warranty companies are known for providing great customer service and are more flexible in paying claims. They’re also open to feedback, and encourage their customers to review or rate their technicians.

Home Warranties FAQ
Are home warranties worth it?
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A home warranty can offer peace of mind by covering unexpected expenses related to systems and appliances malfunctions and normal tear or wear. However, if your major appliances and home systems are brand new and/or covered by manufacturers' warranties you probably don't need to purchase a home warranty plan yet.
How much is a home warranty?
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A home warranty can cost roughly between $300 and $600 a year. This does not include the service fee, which is established in your contract. Companies typically charge between $75 to $125 for every repair call.
What is the best home warranty company?
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According to our research the best home warranty companies are American Home Shield, First American Home Warranty, Liberty Home Guard, AFC Home Club, Select Home Warranty and Cinch Home Services. Top home warranty companies should cover a wide range of systems and appliances, have higher payout limits, show flexibility in paying their claims and have good customer service.
Who pays for home warranty, the buyer or the seller?
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Sellers may pay for a home warranty plan to make their offer more attractive and protect their budget while the house is on the market. Homebuyers can also purchase one from their real estate agent or a home warranty provider before closing a deal. Ultimately, it depends on how the local real estate market usually handles it.
Does a home warranty cover plumbing?
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Yes, most home warranty companies include coverage for plumbing systems and stoppages. This may cover line leaks and breaks, toilet flushing mechanisms, water softener pipes, and stoppages in drains, vents and/or sewer lines.
Does a home warranty require a home inspection?
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Most home warranty companies will not require a home inspection when you purchase one of their comprehensive plans. However, we recommend that consumers have an expert conduct an inspection anyway so they can document the condition of their systems and appliances before buying a warranty.

How we chose the best home warranty companies

Our methodology focused on four key factors: transparency in services offered, claims processing, cost and quality of customer service.

We also considered criteria such as contract terms, the types of malfunctions or failures covered, payout limits, cost-efficiency and service fees.

Finally, we checked every company’s standing with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), including their accreditation or lack thereof, rating and reviews.

Summary of Money’s Best Home Warranty Companies of November 2021

American Home Shield: Most Flexible Plan
First American Home Warranty: Most Comprehensive Basic Plan
Liberty Home Guard: Most Add-Ons
AFC Home Club: Best Premiums
Select Home Warranty: Best for Roof Coverage
Cinch Home Services: Best Systems Plan