Above And Beyond: Home Warranty of America

We didn’t know homes had warranties, but according to Brad, they do, and they rock. Brad’s house came with a warranty provided by Home Warranty of America. He has used them three times, “and they’ve blown me away each time.” Brad’s heater “decided that heating just wasn’t its bag anymore.” A serviceman examined the heater and warned it would soon break. When it did finally quit, the serviceman wasn’t available, so Brad called Home Warranty of America.

[The] lady I spoke to not only sympathized with my plight, but actually had me hold on the phone while she looked up and called another service company to verify they could take care of me right away. Not 10 minutes after I got off the phone with HWA, I received a callback from the A/C service company, and they were at my house within the hour.

We might not caution against warranties if they all provided this level of exemplary service.

Brad’s email, after the jump…


I’ve always been a natural skeptic of any sort of warranty service, thinking that the only way these companies can make money is to take it up front and do their best to avoid approving as many claims as possible, and in general to be as unhelpful as they can be without getting sued. So the idea of a home warranty, where the product covered isn’t even something the warrantor made, sold, or has any control of, gave me a real case of the shudders.

But, the house my wife and I purchased this spring came with a home warranty as an incentive from the seller, and so I took it and hoped we just wouldn’t need it. So far, we’ve had to use them three times, and they’ve blown me away each time. When I call, I’ve always gotten to a real, live rep within minutes, and always someone who not only can speak beautiful English, but who actually sounds happy to be talking to me, and eager to solve my problems to my satisfaction.

Today, though, really took the cake. I had recently called in reference to the heater in our house, which one day decided that heating just wasn’t its bag anymore. However, before the serviceman arrived, our heater decided to give it one more good college try, and kept going for a few more weeks, so the serviceman told us just to call back if there were any more problems. Today was that day. However, when I called him today, he was shorthanded and dealing with broken down vehicles, and therefore unable to help us out for at least another day or two. Since it is so cold here at the moment (well, at least cold for us Texans), I reckoned my wife would turn into a wifesicle if we had to make it through another night sans heat, and so put in another call to Home Warranty of America. From bitter experience with so many customer service reps in so many companies, I expected to be told there was nothing they could do, and that their current guy would get to me when he could. However, the lady I spoke to not only sympathized with my plight, but actually had me hold on the phone while she looked up and called another service company to verify they could take care of me right away. Not 10 minutes after I got off the phone with HWA, I received a callback from the A/C service company, and they were at my house within the hour. Due to their parts stores being closed today, we still have to wait until first thing tomorrow to finish the job, but I was honestly blown away by the lengths that everyone involved went to in order to take care of little old John Q. Consumer in this situation, especially when they’ve already spent more on us from other repairs than the warranty purchase made them in the first place.

There are so many stories out there of companies not living up to the barest of expectations, or completely beating customers down like red-headed stepchildren, that I feel compelled to share when someone goes above and beyond for their customers. So, in that regard, kudos to Home Warranty of America, and Waco Systems (the A/C company) as well, for their over-the-top friendly, helpful service to two very chilly customers. Hats off!!!

— CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER
(Photo: Spatial Mongrel)

Comments

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  1. homerjay says:

    You’re two weeks early. its only March 18th! Unless, of course, this is t-t-t-TRUE!
    I’m scared….

  2. AcidReign says:

    …..We bought one of these years ago when we bought a house. It was well worth it, as the ducts in the house were chock-full of dog hair, as was the air conditioning blower that burnt out two days into our occupation, in an Alabama August. Presto, instant giant oven! The warranty folks got a contractor out there the same day, and replaced the motor, with no charge to us.

  3. LAGirl says:

    i bought my first house in summer 2005, and our seller included a Home Warranty (the company is AON). since i’m also skeptical of warranties, the first time we had a problem with the plumbing, i never even thought to use it. but considering the house was built in the 1930s, it was inevitable that we’d have more problems.

    about six months later, we had another plumbing problem. seems the seller, who bought the house to fix + flip, had really cut corners on a lot of the work and the quality of workers she hired. we found out that paint had been dumped down the drain, which caused the line to keep clogging. we also have a BIG tree out front with roots that are causing problems with the pipes. ah, the joys of owning a home.

    after the second plumbing issue, i remembered the Home Warranty and pulled it out to read the fine print. you had to call them and they would send someone out to diagnose the problem. once the repair was approved, you only paid $40 (like a medical co-pay) to the repair company. the Home Warranty would pay the rest.

    it covered all kinds of things, including plumbing, electrical, heater, refrigerator, etc. seemed to good to be true. there had to be a catch. but so far, it’s been very straightforward. i call, i get someone very nice + professional. i explain the problem, they send my info to the repair person in my area and i get a call within 24 hours (usually that same day). i set up an appointment directly with the repairman. if it’s a ‘preferred provider’ they can just do the work without getting it preapproved by the warranty company.

    i found the greatest ‘preferred’ plumber through them. i’ve used him for several plumbing issues covered under warranty – clogs, replacing the kitchen faucet when the old one cracked, fixing the toilet that was never firmly attached, switching the line leading to the dishwasher from cold to hot (once again, courtesy of the seller’s incompetent plumber!)

    we’ve also used it for electrical, including installation of a new electrical panel. it will even cover repairing the doorbell that’s never worked. we were going to have them take care of the heater in the front of the house, but like Brad, it mysteriously started working again.

    when the policy expired after a year (in August 2006), i paid about $450 to renew it after i realized that we’d saved thousands of dollars in repairs the previous year. i paid a little extra for the ‘Platinum’ policy which covers so many additional things (like replacement of the faucet).

    i’d highly recommend one to any home buyer, and to renew it every year. best $450 i’ve ever spent.

  4. Scazza says:

    Any canuks on here have any idea of a Canadian (or s.ontario) equivalent? We just moved in, and we did something similar with Direct Energy, its like 25 bucks a month, but they only cover heating, AC and some other minor stuff… and Direct Energy are usually a pretty shit company the last few times I dealt with them. Much obliged…

  5. DeeLuzon says:

    i had one of these for a place in the los angeles area for nearly a decade and it was well worth it (covered large portions/all of some major repairs and almost all minor ones), so i used it as a negotiating point and got one when i moved to rural new york. unfortunately, the coverage provided seems to vary from state to state and it didn’t come near to paying for itself in my new location (especially since there were few affiliated contractors in the area and every time i needed something, i had to front the money and then apply for reimbursal which, frequently, was not forthcoming).

    so… check out LOCAL references before signing up!!

  6. codegrl says:

    Our home warranty fixed a broken dishwasher after we were here for a week. Cost us $35 deductible and we could use whoever we wanted. It was awesome! I’m definitely getting another warranty when we move.

  7. bhall03 says:

    I also had one when we purchased our current house and used it a few times, with no problems. Just a few pointers…

    1. Most have deductibles.
    2. Read the warranty fine print. Some are better than others and your problem may or may not be covered depending on what household item is the root cause.

  8. dcsleeper says:

    In Maryland I think there may be a standard home warranty requirement for new homes. I remember a former boss referring to it as 5/10/15. You get 5 year warranty for one category of things, a 10 year warranty of another category, and a 15 year warranty for structure. At the time I thought it was a legal requirement, but I could be wrong. In any case, no one should buy a new home without one or the builder will have no incentive to do anything right.

  9. Welvis says:

    I might advise against 2-10 Home Warranty. That’s who we have and, although so far we’ve gotten what we’ve paid for, their CSR team is awful.

    Had to call last week, waited 15 minutes to get a person on the phone and got pretty awful service. During my first call months earlier I’d had them put a note on my account not to send a certain plumber. Last week, when I asked the new CSR to pull up that info I was told it didn’t exist. I told her that I would get my friend on the phone (he has the same warranty, and had the same problem with the same plumber) to which she sighed and told me their call volume was to high and she could not wait while I did this. Considering I’d waited 15 minutes to get my call answered I told her she could indeed wait for me. I was put on hold and she scheduled what ended up being the wrong plumber to come out. I know this because at the same time she’s telling me she can’t un-schedule the plumber she amazingly finds my note that she said didn’t exist. Another sigh, obviously, because I’m such a jerk for being thorough with this service I paid for. Anyway, got the right plumber coming out, but it’s enough that I would suggest avoiding 2-10 for this type of service.

  10. Learethak says:

    This past January we sold our home and the buyers agent suggested to them we provide a warranty through Home Warranty of America.

    She gets no kickback from the company but had an earlier client insist on it and it saved their bacon when they suffered a furnace failure three months into their ownership. December + Alaska + No furnace = Not fun.

    We were happy to pay the $250 to make sure that the new owners were covered, and I’m going to insist on it when we buy our new home.

  11. katana says:

    Yeah, I put Home Warranty’s in the same category with all others. Sometimes they pay off sometimes they don’t. Some of the contractors are good others aren’t. Some have good coverage, others, not so much.

    If I were buying a ‘high risk’ home, then maybe, otherwise, I’ll pass. Tho I am glad to see some people getting some value out of them. Ours on our first home was next to worthless.

  12. LAGirl says:

    not sure about other warranties, but the one we’ve got with AON has no deductible…just the $40, regardless of the problem.

  13. Kryndis says:

    My mother’s a Realtor and normally suggests people get a home warranty, especially if it’s an older home. She doesn’t get a kickback or anything like that, but she’s heard back from clients about how it’s saved them in the past.

    As a few others have said, they are not all created equal. Look around for the best deal. That said, if you’re getting a home, particularly an older home, they usually pay for themselves easily. Home repairs are expensive!

  14. Husker-fan says:

    It’s always nice to hear about companies that understand that the customers do matter, and we’re not here just to annoy and vex them.

    The skeptic in me says that while these companies may be good now, it won’t be long before we start hearing about how they rate customers like cellular companies do. Basing your level of service on how many times you’ve used them in the past, and how much you’ve already cost their bottom line.

    Hopefully I’ll be wrong about this 5 to 10 years from now, and even longer.

  15. mschlock says:

    I have one through First American which was thrown in for free when I bought my condo and which I’ve been renewing not entirely begrudgingly every year. It costs about $450 a year, and so far I’ve used the service approximately twice a year, usually because of my bastard A/C system which has a tendency to overflow and drip the week after I turn it on.

    There IS a $55 “co-pay” per service visit, and with mine you call the company who then farms out your call to one of their preferred service companies, who are supposed to call you the next day to set up an appointment, so it’s not quite same-day service with these guys, and not your choice of repairmen. Still, the people they’ve sent me have been professional, quick, non-shady, and none of them have murdered me yet, so that’s good.

    Major appliance breakdowns are covered so that they will either fix it or replace it. I have not yet had a major appliance explode on me, so I would say First American has the better part of this bargain so far, but, as all have said, that is the way of all insurance/warranties.

  16. ZonzoMaster says:

    I’m gonna cry =) (not rlly, but good story).

  17. exlawyer says:

    The people on here questioning the vlaue of home warranties must not be homeowners. ALWAYS ask for a home warranty when you buy a house. The seller pays for it. So they don’t cost you a dime. Just be sure you negotiate for a warranty that covers as much as you can. I’ve bought two houses and a condo and they have come in handy.

  18. HawkWolf says:

    My boss got a home warranty for his new house, even though he knew – as a former real-estate agent – that they were a terrible ripoff. He was suckered in like his former clients, and when it came time to make good on his home warranty for a defective air conditioner, he ended up threatening a lawsuit against the company. They reluctantly fixed his furnace..

    I don’t know what company the warranty was through.

  19. arcticJKL says:

    I have had horrible experience with First American in Southern California. It took a year to fix our heater.

    1. Their methodology sucks.
    a. Send someone over to look at the problem and see if it is covered.
    b. Leave.
    c. Send someone over to do work
    d. Tell you how much it will cost because it is only partially covered. (Why didnt they tell me that when they inspected?)

    2. They sent unprofessional worker with no tools or even a flashlight.

    3. Send another company over after I complained and insisted on a different company. The second one was a no show. They never called to cancel appointment.

    4. I could NEVER get the rep on the phone when I called. Usually I had to call three times and leave messages before they returned the call.

    5. Tried to screw the third company they sent. This company told me that some of the items I had to pay for were not needed. (They got leaned on by First American and clammed up)

    6. This issue came up because they were still working off the estimate from the first unprofessional guy who came without a flashlight.

    7. I eventually had to call State Commission on Insurance.

    Anyways I have ten pages of complaints, Ill stop here.

    When you buy a house and the realtor puts First American down as the Home Warranty tell them to change it. There a a lot of other much better companies out there.

    I wish I had know about this website back then.

  20. FLConsumer says:

    BEWARE… these home warranty co’s ALWAYS hire the lowest bidder. One of my neighbors got a home warranty when he bought his house. His AC died and the company came out & replaced the condensing unit outside. His electric bills now run $200/mo when they should only run $60/mo. BUT, he hasn’t figured this out yet and loves to say how good of a deal his home warranty was.

    If you want to see how the home warranty thing really works, go over to (a heating/AC contractor forum) and search for “home warranty denied”

    If you take that $450 and pay yourself/put it into savings each year, you’ll make out far better.
    $450 @ 5% interest @ 10 years = $6,676.06
    $500 @ 5.5% interest @10 years = $7,645.82

    Self-insuring for many of the extended warranties makes far better sense.

  21. FYI, most states have laws requiring builders of new homes and sellers of old homes provide certain warranties when they sell. Some of these warranties may provide nothing above and beyond you’re entitled to by state law.

    That said, I review building contracts for buyers, and I have seen some really awesome builders’ warranties that are way above and beyond what’s required by law. (And then they follow through on them.) I definitely applaud that.

  22. SmoovyG says:

    My home had a warranty as well, and when our A/C went up in the middle of a hot CA summer two years back, it took 5 days to get it repaired. Despite having continuous heat topping 100 degrees and a 5 month pregnant wife, the warranty company refused to believe it was anything more than an inconvenience. I begged to differ, noting that a thermostat that’s reading 95 degrees at 3 in the morning is not indicative of a healthy environment.

    Eventually, I was able to cajole a rep into allowing me to contact a repairman from outside the network to handle the repair. Guy arrived, replaced the part after his normal work hours and charged an extremely reasonable price to boot. We cancelled our warranty soon after.

    • moonman272 says:

      @SmoovyG: @SmoovyG:

      Hello smoovyG, I am actually in souther california and dealing with FIrst American, i was wondering if you remembered the name of the company your father signed with that seemed to go well.

  23. SmoovyG says:

    @arcticJKL: First American’s the same company we had our misadventures with – for $450 a year, you’d think they’d make sure they had their shit together! My father had issues with them as well the following year, but has signed on with another warranty company who’s taken care of every call perfectly.

  24. FLConsumer says:

    Hmm… looks like my URL got grunged. If you want to see how “great” home warranty companies are, head over to the this website:

    http://www.hvac-talk.com/vbb

    It’s a contractor forum for heating/air conditioning. Search for “home warranty denied” and look at the pretty pictures and read the stories.

  25. flamaest says:

    Avoid 2-10!! Same problems here, they are very bad and try as hard as they can to never cover anything that goes wrong due to their pages and pages of fine print. They also insist on using the cheapest parts and labor for their so-called “repairs”. I had one repair guy insist that duct tape was good enough for my heater instead of replacing parts which were clearly dead or dying.

    2-10 also does not cover duct-work or anything which can be proven to have died due to normal wear and tear, WTF?, Read the fine print.

    I have since dumped 2-10 because they always got out of their end of the deal when it was time to fix something. what a bad bad company.

    It’s too bad you can’t pick the warrenty company or change warrenty companies, you can only get this service when you close on a home.

  26. CSchnack says:

    Most warranty co’s operate similarly. They are Risk Retention Groups (RRG’s) which escape most if not all state insurance regulation. Because they typically contain a binding mandatory arbitration clause, disputes go into private, and often biased, proceedures which hide complaints from the public. Even if the consumer “wins” they may get a fraction of their damages, and arbitration itself can have many hidden fees. The policies tend to have many exclusions and exceptions, offering what lawyers call illusory coverage, that is not allowed of insurance companies. Warranty co’s may claim in marketing materials to be “insurance” but unless they are, or are backed by a true insurance co, they are NOT insurance. Some case law says that if they act like insurance they will be regulated as insurance, but don’t count on it. You will need to find out from your state’s Insurance Dept if a particular “warranty company” is an RRG or is really insurance.

    It’s been said by consumer groups that warranty co’s pay out far less than insurance co’s do. I believe they pay a claim sometimes to keep from drawing attention as a total scam, but overall, I think the lawyers’ word for them sums it up: ILLUSORY.