Anyone who’s even vaguely familiar with home warranty knows that it definitely doesn’t cover everything, which is one of the main reasons that puts people off when it comes to this type of service contract. However, if you take just a little time to carefully read your preferred company’s terms and conditions and FAQ, you’ll see that as long as you understand what’s covered and what’s not, you should be able to reap the benefits of home warranty to the fullest.
One of the main concerns when it comes to what’s covered and what’s not is the fact that most companies will not agree to pay the repair or replacement of an appliance or a home system if it already has a pre-existing condition. This is a somewhat confusing concept, as you might be wondering how they are supposed to know whether a problem was already there when the customer signed the home warranty contract. Plus, in many cases, not even the customers themselves are aware that there’s a problem, especially if they are not particularly tech-savvy or skilled. Also, there is a little legal term called “known pre-existing condition” at play here, meaning as long as you can prove you had no knowledge of the said condition, you should be okay and your problem should be covered. Well, that’s in theory, and the reality is, unfortunately, quite different.
In order to determine whether your systems and appliances are affected by any pre-existing conditions, the logical thing to do would be to conduct a home inspection. That way, all the pre-existing conditions, both known and unknown, could be documented and the appliances affected by them would be excluded from the coverage. However, most companies don’t require a home inspection before signing a contract with a customer, and almost none of them ask for any kind of documentation related to household systems and common appliances. Thanks to this, they create a huge loophole that allows them to decline claims on the grounds of alleged pre-existing conditions. You will agree that this is highly unethical, but that’s business and, sadly, that’s the way it goes these days.
In case a contractor diagnoses a pre-existing condition, there are a few things you can do. You can deny any knowledge of said condition and offer to show any documentation related to the appliance in question. You can also contact their customer support center and try to explain that even if there was a pre-existing condition, you were certainly not aware of it, and should, therefore, be able to successfully make a claim. The problem is, it’s your word against the contractor’s and in most cases, the company is going to take the contractor’s side.
So, how can you, as a customer, protect yourself against this kind of manipulation? First of all, you can look for home warranty providers that either require or accept home inspection or any similar method of determining the condition of appliances and systems included in the coverage plan. Second, you can opt for providers without the “pre-existing condition” clause in their terms and conditions. Read the sample contracts and find out whether a company has this clause or not. You can also lawyer up, but that’s definitely going to be expensive. It might be a good idea to try to dig out any documentation regarding any previous repairs of the appliances you want to be included in the coverage plan, if there have been any. Hiring an independent home inspector prior to signing a home warranty contract could also be useful.
As you can see, this is definitely a slippery slope, but don’t let it discourage you from getting a home warranty. There are some shady companies in the business but most of the bigger, better-known ones have a reputation to think of and wouldn’t allow themselves to be caught in something as petty as cheating on claims. That’s why you should always go with trusted, reliable home warranty providers that have made a good name for themselves over the years.