Compare Home Warranties

From plan value and customer experience to contractor network and customer base, we research everything you need to compare home warranties and make a decision. Learn how our editors compare the different factors of home warranties below.
Disclosure: We receive advertising revenue from some partners. Learn more.
Select 2 home warranties companies to compare
vs

Home Warranties...The Basics

 

Home warranties are supposed to cover what your homeowners insurance does not. While your home insurance will take care of damage to your dwelling and it’s contents in the case of an accident, disaster or calamity, it will not cover things that just break down. Theoretically, this is where a home warranty steps in. It is an annual contract with a premium just like your homeowners and a service fee/deductible issued for every claim.

Home warranty companies typically offer 3 plans: appliance, systems, and combo. Appliance plans cover things like your refrigerator and washer & dryer, while systems plans cover elements in your home’s structure like the air conditioning and water heater. Most companies offer coverage of the same basic elements, however some feature more extensive coverage than others. Still others offer items in standard coverage that another company would charge as an additional item.

The way it works:

Your appliance or system stops working, you call your home warranty provider, they send you out a contractor from their network, you pay a service fee, the provider approves the work and the contractor fixes or replaces the appliance or system.

At face value it’s simple, however, as we shall see, the home warranty field is not without controversy. It has an iffy reputation that stems from a disproportionately large amount of customers who have had bad experiences. They mainly report companies not paying claims due to technicalities in contracts, and long wait times for contractors to show up. Add to this the fact that several home warranty companies have been the subject of litigation in the past and have been forced to even pay damages due to deceptive business practices and you’ll get an idea why many view the entire industry with caution.

However, if you deal with a reputable company, and above all do the research to find out what the company covers and doesn’t cover, a home warranty can be an extremely valuable resource, particularly if your systems and appliances are approaching the 10+-year-old mark.

Who needs a home warranty?

A home warranty is a good idea if you don’t have a lot of money in savings for sudden accidents and repairs. With a home warranty you’ll pay a deductible or service fee aside from your yearly premium. You’ll have to deal exclusively with the company’s contractor network. In this way the home warranty company acts as a kind of buffer and will appeal to you if you don’t relish the idea of tracking down and communicating with the right contractors for a particular job. Home warranties are also good if you are not particularly handy, or simply like having the peace of mind that everything in your house is covered in case of an emergency.

A home warranty might not be the best idea if you’ve purchased a home with poorly cared for appliances and systems. It’s entirely possible that you could make a call only to find out your particular appliance or system is excluded because it has a “pre existing condition.” Also, if your house is a brand new construction, and everything in it is new as well, you have to take into account how long it will be before a given item will typically need service. You may be paying hundreds for years for no reason. In these situations it may be ideal to be sure you are properly maintaining your appliances and systems for 10 years and then get the home warranty as that is typically the time things start to break down.

When Can You Expect An Appliance or System to Break Down?

How we rate them

Our staff conducted extensive research of the home warranty marketplace. We consulted with industry leaders, talked with customers, evaluated online reviews, talked with customer service people, and purchased home warranties ourselves. We decided upon 5 criteria by which to judge home warranty providers:

Plan Value
Customer Experience
Contracts
Restrictions
Contractor Network
Customer Base

How we Compare Home Warranties

Plan Value - 25%
Customer Experience - 25%
Contracts - 15%
Restrictions - 15%
Contractor Network - 10%
Customer Base - 10%

Plan Value

This is what you get for your money. To determine the value of a given plan we look at the premium and service fee cost in comparison to the breadth of items covered, payout limits (caps) and the cost of additional items.

Most home warranties provide a system plan an appliance plan, and maybe some kind of hybrid plan of the two. Some items universally covered by all home warranty companies include:

Heating

Refrigerator

Electrical

Dishwasher

Plumbing

Washer & Dryer

Water Heater

Ovens

Garbage Disposal

Garage Door Opener

We gave extra points in this area for those companies that allowed you to customize a plan, i.e. pick only the items you want á la carte. Companies with a robust list of add on features also score highly. But the highest would be those who offered standard items that would be additional costs with other plans. These are items like whirlpool, sump pumps, and central vacuum.

Some items that would generally have to be added on to any home warranty provider’s plan include:

Pool/Spa
Septic Tank
Water Softener
Second Refrigerator

This in not a matter of ranking the lowest costs the highest. We look at the relationship between covered items, payout caps, and cost of service fee and deductible. A given company might offer a rock bottom premium, but you can be sure you’re getting a plan that’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. We look for a robust list of covered items at a competitive price. Additional items included. 

Some home warranties offer you the ability to customize your deductible and/or service fee. We rank these entities highly as this gives the customer more control of tailoring the plan to their individual needs and financial situation.

Home Warranties with the Best Plan Value:

American Home ShieldAFC Home ClubHome Service ClubFirst AmericanSelectChoiceAmerican Home GuardSecureTotal Home Protection
Premium$249-$600$440$400$288-$480-If you want AC $588$299-$499$370-$450$359-$570
Service Fee$75-$100-$125$60$65-$95-$125$65-$75$60$60$60
Items Covered24173217151814
Per Item CapsYesYes, but only on a few itemsYesNoYesYesYesYesYes
Yearly CapsNoYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNo
Lower Cap PeriodNo2 monthsNoNo3 monthsNo3 months3 monthsNo

Customer Experience

If you were to take even the most perfunctory look at home warranty reviews online you’d probably very quickly notice a trend. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. You DON’T find many reviews like:

“Home Warranty Company X more or less ok, I’ve had good and bad experiences with them. The contractor they sent was pretty good but I’d have liked it done faster. But the overall experience was fine…I’ll probably keep the company.”

You are a lot more likely to find reviews like:

"DON'T USE THIS COMPANY!!!!!!!!!!" Followed by a 5 page horror story about a broken AC in the dead of summer that never got fixed after 3 months of being jerked around and eventually had to be paid for out of pocket.

Or others that seem, shall we say, suspiciously effusive:

"My experience with Home Warranty Company X could not possibly have been better! The representative was prompt and the contractor was knowledgeable! Everyone concerned was polite and responsive! I will continue to use them into the future for all my home warranty needs and recommend them without hesitation!"

We found the main causes of disgruntlement are:

1-The home warranty company says the item, or component within the item, in question is not covered under their contract.
2-Waiting times for service contractors.

With regard to number 1, we implore customers get a sample contract from a given company and read it thoroughly. Most of these complaints are due to the fact customers are unclear as to what’s covered. You need to go into a home warranty contract with your eyes wide open. Take an inventory of the systems and appliances in your house and make sure they are mentioned in the contract. Also, read carefully what is NOT COVERED for each individual system or appliance and determine if it is relevant to your home.

Because customer reviews are so polarized with home warranties, we drew from as wide a pool as possible in determining how a given company ranks in terms of customer experience. Along with thousands of reviews submitted by our own Consumers Advocate readers, we also factored in customer reviews from other high traffic websites like Yelp, Consumer Affairs, and homewarrantyreviews.com, and considered independent 3rd party reviews from sites like reviews.com, safesmartliving.com and comparisonshopping.com. We also took into consideration each company’s BBB rating. 

Home Warranties with the Best Customer Experience:

American Home ShieldAFC Home ClubHome Service ClubFirst AmericanSelectChoiceAmerican Home GuardSecureTotal Home Protection
BBB Grade BB D+BB B- NRC-NR

Contracts

First of all, considering the often restrictive nature of home warranty plans, potential customers should have access to a sample of a company’s contract up front. We prefer home warranty companies that provide an example contract online, either on a webpage or as a pdf. Furthermore we are looking for contracts that are easy to understand and clear that don’t leave much room for interpretation. If you’ve read the contract thoroughly and still cannot honestly determine whether your system or appliance will be covered, or what the payout limit is (if any), then we see that as a red flag.

Many contracts have waiting periods before coverage takes effect. Still others offer more limited coverage in the first month before becoming fully effective. It’s important to know these things about your plan.

Another thing we consider is the home warranty provider’s cancellation policy. Most home warranty contracts are for 1 year. You are generally allowed to cancel within the first 30 days if you’ve not made a claim. After this time period it’s more difficult. Obviously the companies that make it the most painless and least complicated to extract yourself from a contract will look the best in our eyes.

Home Warranties with the Best Contracts:

American Home ShieldAFC Home ClubHome Service ClubFirst AmericanSelectChoiceAmerican Home GuardSecureHome Guard
Available OnlineYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Ease of UnderstandingStandardDifficultClearDifficultClearDifficultClear StandardClear
Waiting Period1530103030303031
Cancellation PolicyStrictStandardStandardStrictStandardStrictStandard Standard

Restrictions

You are not going to find a home warranty company without restrictions on what items and under what circumstances said items are covered. We’d love to be able to recommend a company that honors every claim and fixes or replaces every appliance or system quickly and without hassle. Unfortunately that’s not the reality of the home warranty marketplace.

What we can do is look at all of the major players’ restrictions and point you towards those who are the least…er…restrictive.

We are looking for contracts with clear restrictions that are easy to understand and not subject to interpretation. We are also looking for reasonable stipulations and not excessive and confusing lists. We like companies who will cover pre existing conditions and those who do not require you to produce maintenance records documenting the upkeep of a system or appliance.

Home Warranties with the Best Restrictions:

American Home ShieldAFC Home ClubHome Service ClubFirst AmericanSelectChoiceAmerican Home GuardSecureTotal Home Protection
ClarityEasy to UnderstandEasy to UnderstandStandardEasy to UnderstandEasy to UnderstandEasy to UnderstandEasy to UnderstandEasy to UnderstandEasy to Understand
Reasons for Denying Claims on Individual ItemsFlexibleStandardExcessiveStandardStandardStandardExcessiveExcessiveExcessive
Reserve Right to Demand Maintenance Records No YesNoNoYesYesYesYesNo
Years of Maintenance Records Required N/A1 YearN/AN/A3 YearsNot specified. Says “CHW has the right to request maintenance records in reviewing its decision.”3 YearsNot specified. Says “Maintenance records may be required when initiating a claim for a Covered Product.”N/A

Contractor Network

Most home warranty companies rely on contractors in their network to complete the diagnosis, repairs and replacements in your home. The bigger the contractor network, the more control you’ll have over who completes the work and how quickly the work is completed. When ranking home warranty companies, we look for those who have a clear vetting process in place for their contractors, companies that work exclusively with licensed, insured, and qualified experts.

The number of contractors in network varies greatly based on the company, but it typically ranges anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000+ contractors. If a company does not use only network contractors, this can be a potential red flag because there’s no accountability in place. While shopping around, make sure to address the contractor network specifically to determine that your area has a sufficient number of contractors to cover all your needs, and that they use exclusively certified professionals within the network.

Home Warranties with the Best Contractor Network:

American Home ShieldAFC Home ClubHome Service ClubFirst AmericanSelectChoiceAmerican Home GuardSecureTotal Home Protection
Network SizeExtensive StandardStandard ExtensiveStandardStandardStandardLimitedLimited

Customer Base

This criteria looks at the size of the company, it’s history, annual claims payout and revenue, and the number of clients served. We also consider how many states in which a given company is able to do business. Essentially the company’s reputation and share of the market. 

Home Warranties with the Best Customer Base:

American Home ShieldAFC Home ClubHome Service ClubFirst AmericanSelectChoiceAmerican Home GuardSecureTotal Home Protection
States of Operation 505049505050Not Specified5050
Years in Business 4578324 831Less than a year
Market Share41%less than 1%less than 1%11%less than 1%less than 1%less than 1%less than 1%less than 1%

Full Home Warranties Comparison

Plan ValueCustomer ExperienceContractsRestrictionsContractor NetworkCustomer Base
American Home Shield Home Warranty9.09.87.59.510.010.0
America's 1st Choice Home Club Warranty9.59.09.58.59.09.0
Home Service Club10.010.09.57.08.57.5
First American Home Warranty8.57.58.59.88.58.0
Select Home Warranty8.07.28.89.09.08.5
Choice Home Warranty9.56.08.98.97.09.5
American Home Guard Home Warranty8.08.08.08.58.08.0
Secure Home Warranty8.08.08.57.77.08.0
American General Warranty8.08.07.57.58.07.5
Allied Home Warranty8.06.07.98.78.08.0
Federal Home Assurance Home Warranty8.07.07.07.07.08.0
Landmark Home Warranty8.06.05.09.08.09.0
Old Republic Home Warranty7.07.08.07.06.08.0
Blue Ribbon Home Warranty7.08.06.07.06.07.0
Home Warranty of America7.07.06.06.07.07.0
Nations Home Warranty7.06.06.07.06.07.0
Fidelity National Home Warranty6.07.06.07.05.07.0
National Home Guaranteed Home Warranty6.05.06.07.05.07.0
Home Guard Home Warranty6.06.05.05.05.07.0
OneGuard Home Warranties5.06.04.06.05.07.0
Universal Home Protection Home Warranty5.05.05.06.04.07.0
Certified Warranties Corporation Home Warranty5.04.05.04.05.07.0
Total Home Protection Home Warranty0.00.00.00.00.00.0
Select 2 home warranties companies to compare
vs

FAQ

What is a home warranty and how is it different from homeowner insurance?

A home warranty is a service contract that will help repair or replace systems (like plumbing, heating, electrical) and appliances (like dishwashers, ovens, garbage disposals) in your home, whereas a homeowners insurance policies cover damage to your home.

Not all home warranties are the same and not all systems and appliances are covered, so make sure you read the policy carefully before you make the purchase. If the coverage you need is not included in the basic warranty, it may be worthwhile to look into an enhanced warranty.

Latest Reviews

Reviews help other customers make decisions. Share your experience with Home Warranties
L
lcoop
Memphis, Tennessee
2/24/2017
My garage door stopped working. I called CHM and they said it could take up to three days to be contacted and get the service done. This was my first claim and I was resigned to a long wait. Instead, I got a call back in less than ten minutes and the technician offered to come that afternoon! The technician from Mid South Doors was prompt, courteous and efficient.

R
Ronald Woisin
2/24/2017
It is the middle of February and my heating system stopped working, so I called CHW. I told the lady on the phone we had an emergency (no heat). She said she would whatever necessary to help! The next day we had a Heating and A/C company come to the house and repair our unit. I think that is as good as it gets from a warranty company. Thank you CHW. Ron Woisin Floresville, Texas

D
Deb
2/24/2017
Have been a customer for 10 years. Contractors sent out are always good. Just had my furnace replaced and covered. The reason for 4 stars is that there are always some charges not covered. For example on the furnace we had to pay for a permit to be pulled and code upgrades. Still the 1,000 out of pocket was better than a full priced furnace.

Reviews help other customers make decisions. Share your experience with Home Warranties