Buyer beware. Research Home Warranty Programs before committing to one. Not all of them are created equal.
Recently, I had a client who purchased a home with a home warranty provided by the sellers. It being a relatively new home, my clients thought they would never actually have to use it. But they did. Back in November their heat pump started freezing over. They called the home warranty company who sent out a local HVAC company to check it out. The company diagnosed the problem, and "fixed" it. Since then they have had to call the home warranty company seven other times because the heat pump still has not been fixed. Each time they send the same HVAC company out to "fix" it. The buyers have been unable to leave home the entire winter and leave their heat running for fear that it would freeze up while they are gone.
I checked with them earlier this week to see how the battle was going. The same HVAC company has had their heat unhooked for close to a week now, with nighttime temperatures down into the 30s. The home warranty company says they cannot regulate the length of time it takes to repair something, but they could send another company out to look at it, for an additional trade fee. I have tried to get a local contact for the home warranty company, but have not been successful--and this is a very popular home warranty company that I am speaking of.
Moral of the story...check out the home warranty company before committing to it, whether you are a homeowner, listing agent, or buyers agent. Here are some important questions to get answers to:
1. Will I have a local representative to call if there is a problem getting something fixed?
2. Are the contractors expected to report a diagnosis within a specified period of time if the situation is considered an emergency (like no heat during the middle of winter)?
3. If the original contractor is unable to fix it after a couple trips, will I be asked to pay another trade fee to get a new company out?
4. Is there a limit to how many times you will allow the same contractor to be sent out if they are unable to fix the problem?
5. If the party covered has problems dealing with the contractor, what are the steps your company takes to help them?
6. How much will the policy holders have to pay towards replacing big ticket items (this can vary from simply the trade fee to thousands of dollars)?
7. KNOW YOUR TRADE FEE!
Home warranties are still a geat product. But like everything else, research before you buy.