Business Columns & Blogs

Do your research before purchasing a home warranty

Associated Press

This summer has been one of the hottest on record for the Boise area, with a seemingly endless string of days near 100 degrees. This would be about the worst time for an air conditioning unit to go out! But, it happens. For many homeowners, a broken AC or malfunctioning appliance could lead them to call on a home warranty.

Home warranties come in a few forms, especially if you’ve recently purchased a new house. But, even if you’ve owned your home for a while, you could potentially purchase a plan intended to protect your wallet should something go wrong at home. A quick web search for home warranty information yields a mixed bag: are these plans worth it?

Last year, Better Business Bureau processed more than 6,000 complaints regarding home warranty companies. The reasons for complaints often include frustration over what isn’t covered, quality of service provided, disputes over fees and length of time for a response. At the same time, many happy customers left positive reviews of companies they felt did right by them.

If you choose to purchase a home warranty, BBB recommends setting yourself up for success with these tips:

▪  Understand the coverage. A home warranty typically offers limited coverage and materials for specific parts of the home like plumbing, electrical systems, heat and air conditioning. Know what the coverage includes and for how long. Make sure you understand everything you need to ensure your warranty is not voided (for instance, not changing the filter regularly may void the furnace’s warranty).

▪  Know the claim process. Check your warranty to see who is responsible for finding someone to make the repairs. Read the verbiage carefully to understand how issues are resolved and what you may end up paying.

▪  Reporting a claim. If something does go wrong, file your claim as specified in the warranty. Keep copies of all correspondence with the company and contractors along with dated notes on any conversations.

▪  Research the business. If you do need claim work done, research the company on bbb.org before letting them into your home. Some warranty companies may suggest using the most inexpensive provider, but that’s a good deal for them, and may not be for you.

▪  Know your rights. If there is an issue over coverage or whether the work has been done improperly, many warranties provide for mediation and arbitration. Sometimes there is a fee for these services.

If you need help with a home warranty or would like information about consumer assistance, turn to bbb.org. If you are a victim of a scam, report it to bbb.org/scamtracker.

Emily Valla, emily.valla@thebbb.org, is the Idaho marketplace director for the Better Business Bureau Northwest. To check a business or report a scam, go to www.bbb.org or call (208) 342-4649.

  Comments