What to Know if You Have a Home Warranty & An HVAC Problem

Home warranties have something of a mixed reputation. They are often included when homes are bought and sold to give a new homeowner confidence that they are “covered” in the event off a breakdown. Sometimes people purchase them to give what they think will save them money down the road. They can save a homeowner money in certain circumstances, but there are tradeoffs, too. In our opinion, it’s much more accurate to think of a home warranty as a “discount plan” rather than an insurance-type of product. Many of the complaints we hear are related to a homeowner’s high expectations and misunderstanding of what the home warranty covers and doesn’t cover. Here’s what you need to know:

You Don’t Choose Your Service Provider

Often, when you have an equipment malfunction and need professional help, a home warranty company will dictate which contractors are allowed to repair it. What they won’t tell you is that they often contract with technicians that are new to the business and less experienced because their reimbursable rates for labor are lower than the market average. This means you won’t have choices about who to work with and you are likely not getting someone who has lots of experience. We have contractor friends who got started doing home warranty work in order to build their business, but they are no longer doing that work because it does not adequately cover their costs and they wanted to better serve their customers.

You Don’t Get to Choose to Repair or Replace

Think you will be the one deciding whether to repair or replace an air conditioner that is at the end of its life cycle? If you have a home warranty contract and are seeking a replacement, you may not get to make that decision. To save money, it has been our experience that home warranty providers often elect to repair rather than replace. They are betting it is cheaper to repair several times, rather than replace a system. It may be cheaper, but it can be a hassle and more expensive to the homeowner in the long-run. When home warranties do replace equipment, they pick the cheapest, least energy efficient equipment, which can be less reliable. It is an unfortunate truth that you get what you pay for.

You May Have Existing Coverage Through Other Sources

Always read the fine print so you know what you are buying, and ask a lot of questions. If your home is new, your builder may offer coverage, and purchases of appliances may have their own specified warranty. Large unexpected repairs would likely be covered by your home owner’s insurance. If you purchase a new heater or air conditioning system, ask about the manufacturer’s warranty and see if your HVAC company offers a craftsmanship warranty, too.

If Conditions Aren’t Met, They Might Not Cover

Homeowners often expect a home warranty to cover *everything*, but they often do not.  You may be on the hook for a co-pay, diagnostic service, a service call to properly maintain equipment, and just a portion of repair or replacement. In the summer when the demand for HVAC repair and replacement is high, it may take a home warranty longer than usual to locate a contractor willing to come out to make the repair. (Remember, the reimbursement rates they receive are low, so there is less incentive to act quickly when they are swamped already.) In the meantime, a home warranty company might make you a cash payout, only paying one-third or less to close-out the claim. This frees you up to negotiate your own fix, but less than the contracted amount you might have originally received. That scenario can and does cause hard feelings.

Expert Repair Is a Call Away

If you are debating the merits of a home warranty, weigh the pros and cons so you better understand what a home warranty really does cover. In terms of air conditioning and heating equipment, you might be better off with an HVAC-specific service plan, like our Peace of Mind Protection Plan, combined with your HVAC’s equipment warranty. An experienced Carrier Factory-Authorized dealer, Terry’s A/C and Heating can help you with an expert repair or installation to meet nearly any budget, and we warranty our craftsmanship, too. Call us at 281-495-7830 to get on our schedule in the West Houston, Katy, Richmond, Fulshear, and Sugar Land, Texas area. We treat all of our customers as if they were family, and look forward to earning your business.