By Ann Poorboy
When you buy your first home, you are often given a one-year homeowner warranty with your purchase. While this isn’t always the case, for my husband and I it was a true blessing on our first house.
Let me paint the picture for you. He is upstairs showering so we can go out. I’m downstairs in the kitchen cleaning up a bit. Then it happened! I looked left and water was pouring down all of the windows. Upon closer inspection, it was actually pouring inside of the windows. I ran upstairs and he promptly turned off the water. Sure enough, the water stopped inside the windows as well.
If we hadn’t had a homeowner warranty that covered plumbing, we would have been sitting in a brand new house – with our life savings spent on the down payment and facing a $10,000 plumbing bill. Luckily for us we did. They were great, they came out fixed the problem and brought everything back into working order – even the windows. All we had to do was paint when they were done. Not a bad compromise considering.
So many homeowners fail to renew these after that first year. So what is it and what does it cover? Here’s a quick comparison between Homeowners Insurance and a Homeowners Warranty.
American Home Shield posts this information on their website:
What is homeowners insurance?
A home insurance policy covers any accidental damage to your home and belongings due to theft, storms, fires, and some natural disasters. There are four primary areas covered under the policy: the interior and exterior of your home, personal property in case of theft, loss or damage, and general liability that can arise when a person is injured while on your property.
A home insurance policy is usually mandatory, and a bank will generally require you to obtain one before issuing a mortgage on a home. A policy is renewed yearly, and its average annual cost is between $300 and $1,000. All home insurance policies offer a deductible, which is what you’ll pay when a claim is made. The policy will then take care of any additional costs.
So for instance, say a pipe breaks and floods your kitchen. An insurance adjuster will come to your home and fill out a claim for repair and replacement of any damaged items in your home. Once the claim is approved, the insurance company will deduct the amount of your deductible and issue you a payment for the rest of balance to repair your home. This deductible can also assist in lowering your yearly policy premium. The higher your deductible, the lower your yearly home insurance policy will cost.
What is a Home Warranty?
A home warranty is a service contract that provides for repair or replacement of your system components and appliances that fail due to age and standard wear and tear. For instance, components of your HVAC, electrical, and plumbing, kitchen appliances and washer/dryer are all typically covered under this warranty. You can also cover larger systems like your pool and spa. Home warranties typically have 12-month contract terms, and are not mandatory to obtain a mortgage. A home warranty is purely elective, but it’s a smart purchase. Appliance and system combo plans can be purchased for around $75 per month, with add-on coverage for items like an additional refrigerator or pool system available for extra costs.
So let’s say your HVAC system stops working. In that case, a licensed, pre-screened technician will come out and assess the problem. If it’s determined that the system is no longer working because of age or wear and tear and the breakdown is covered under the terms of your service contract, the service contractor will make the repair, or if necessary, will replace the appliance or system for just the cost of your service call. A one-time service call generally cost (depending on your policy) up to $125, and the home warranty company pays the rest. The protection of a home warranty potentially can save you hundreds or even thousands of out-of-pocket dollars and the headache of finding a trusted service contractor to make the repairs.
Let’s face it – life happens and things break. When they do, a home warranty can make it easier to get a qualified professional on the case while keeping your budget in line.