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Published: Mar 05, 2024 6 min read

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Knowing what a home warranty covers can help you choose the best plan possible for your home repair needs. But what exactly does the typical home warranty plan cover?

Although the specifics can vary depending on the company and plan you choose, most policies generally cover major systems such as plumbing, electrical wiring, heating and cooling, and appliances like refrigerators and washing machines.

Home warranty companies have a long list of terms, limitations and exclusions you should also consider. Read on for information about what is usually covered, common exclusions and other important details to help you better understand home warranties coverage.

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What is a home warranty?

A home warranty is a service contract that pays for repairs or replacement costs of major home systems and appliances if they fail or malfunction due to normal wear and tear. The contract typically includes an annual or monthly fee and a service call fee (or deductible).

Home warranty coverage is not homeowners insurance, which pays for damages to your home and personal belongings from covered incidents such as storms, fires and vandalism. Home warranties, unlike homeowners insurance, isn’t required by mortgage lenders.

Warranty plans are largely bought through home warranty providers like American Home Shield or Select Home Warranty which offer multiple coverage options. Check out our list of the best home warranty companies to get a breakdown of each.

What does a home warranty cover?

Home warranties cover major appliances and systems, as long as they aren’t under manufacturer’s warranty. Although coverage depends on your specific policy, home warranties typically include:

Home systems

  • Electrical systems (indoor wiring)
  • Plumbing systems, including stoppages
  • Cooling and heating systems like air conditioners and ductwork
  • HVAC systems
  • Water heater
  • Garage door opener
  • Trash compactor

Home appliances

  • Kitchen refrigerators
  • Dishwashers
  • Built-in microwave ovens
  • Cooktops, ovens or ranges
  • Garbage disposals
  • Ceiling or exhaust fans
  • Clothes washers and dryers

Add-ons

In addition to the items listed above, most home warranty companies offer optional coverage for the following:

  • Swimming pool and spa equipments
  • Well pumps
  • Sump pumps
  • Septic systems
  • Central vacuum
  • Roof leak repair
  • Stand-alone freezers
  • Water softeners
  • Ice makers
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What does a home warranty not cover?

Home warranty policies typically exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions, maintenance costs and improperly installed appliances. They may also exclude specific appliances such as window air conditioning units or, in some cases, appliances installed after purchasing the policy.

Home warranty companies also set coverage limits on how much money they pay per contract term and covered items. Coverage caps are generally disclosed in the fine print and vary from company to company. For instance, some companies pay up to $1,500 per year for HVAC repairs, while companies like American Home Shield cover up to $5,000.

Other items or events that may not be covered:

  • Duplicate appliances (such as a second freezer or appliances for a second kitchen)
  • Smaller appliances like a countertop oven
  • Components like knobs, shelves and drawers
  • Certain appliances without maintenance records (such as an HVAC system)
  • Breakdowns caused by lack of maintenance
  • Improper installations, repairs or modifications
  • Malfunctions due to sediment, rust or corrosion
  • Structural features like floors, windows, and doors
  • Damage from mold, wood rot, or roof leaks

Although these coverage exclusions are somewhat standard across the industry, they can vary depending on the service provider.

In fact, companies typically have their own exclusions when it comes to specific parts or components, such as door knobs, hinges, thermostats or handles. Before making a decision, we recommend reading the sample contract carefully and to pay particular attention to coverage exclusions and payout limits.

For more information on common denial reasons, check out 8 Reasons Your Home Warranty Claim May Be Denied.

When does home warranty coverage begin?

Most policies have a waiting period before coverage begins, usually around 30 days. This is usually because the company will not cover pre-existing damage or repairs due to normal wear and tear.

What is the duration of home warranty coverage?

A home warranty contract typically lasts between one and two years and may even go up to three years. If you choose to pay the price of your warranty at once, as opposed to a monthly premium, you’ll typically get a discount.

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Home Warranty Coverage FAQs

Do home warranties cover HVAC?

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Yes, most home warranty policies cover HVAC systems. However, companies may only cover these systems if you can prove that they are getting regular maintenance, as evidenced by service records.

What does a home warranty cover when buying a house?

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A home warranty provides coverage for items included in the sale, such as plumbing, electrical systems, heating and cooling systems, major kitchen appliances, laundry room appliances, garbage disposals, doorbells, garage door openers, ceiling fans and central vacuums.

If there's a pre-sale home inspection, the warranty company may not cover anything wrong with the piece of real estate that is highlighted in the inspection report. This could be considered a known pre-existing issue and, therefore, would not be covered.

Does a home warranty cover air conditioning?

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Yes, home warranty policies generally cover air conditioning systems. However, you may have to show regular maintenance records for the repairs to be covered.

What is covered under a home warranty?

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The specific coverage of home warranties varies from company to company. Generally, most policies cover plumbing and electrical systems, heating and cooling systems, major kitchen appliances, laundry room appliances, garbage disposals, doorbells, garage door openers, ceiling fans and central vacuums. You can pay an additional fee to cover additional appliances and systems.

Summary of Money's What Does a Home Warranty Cover?

A home warranty can be a great way to protect your investment in your home. While it doesn’t provide the comprehensive coverage home insurance does, these plans can help pay for otherwise costly repairs to your most valuable appliances and systems.

However, it’s important you understand the terms of the service contract before signing up for coverage. By understanding what a home warranty covers and the potential limitations of your policy, you can make an informed decision on whether that plan or provider is right for you.

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