When you own your own home, you have to be ready for unexpected repair costs at any time. And sometimes that can get expensive. But home warranties have kept my repair costs way down and made it easier to get things fixed.* Here is my 14-year experience.
I learned about home warranties when I bought my second house in 2000. That house came with a home warranty provided by the seller. If any appliance or operating system (plumbing, electrical, etc) in the house failed, the warranty would cover its repair or replacement minus a set $100 deductible. "Nice," I thought, "an extra little peace of mind." And then I promptly pushed the warranty to the back of my mind -- until the gas furnace failed to start up a couple of months later.
Getting a home system fixed isn't just costly; it is also a stressful hassle -- especially when you are new in town, as I was. Who do you call? How do you know they will do a good job? How do you know you are paying a fair price? Getting those questions answered takes time and trouble. And sometimes you have to learn by trial and error. But having the home warranty changed all that for me.
I got my hands on the home warranty booklet, verified that furnace repairs were covered (hurray!), and phoned the repair request number in the booklet. And... presto! In just a couple of minutes, the claims agent gave me a repair approval code number and the contact info for an approved furnace repair company. So I did not have to search for one myself. And the warranty company would guarantee the service outfit's work. I did not have to worry about that problem, either.
So I contacted the service company, gave them my repair approval code number, their technician came and replaced some expensive gizmo in the furnace, and I just paid a $100 deductible. Problem solved. Case closed. And I was sold on home warranty policies.
Since then, I have had home warranty policies on 3 different houses in 3 different towns. I have had many electrical, plumbing and heating problems solved under those warranties. Twice I have had to ask the warranty company to rework a problem, and both times this has been done without argument. And I have had several items replaced outright: a well pump, a large refrigerator, a clothes dryer, an entire set of incoming water lines. In my experience, having a home warranty policy has been a complete success.
Financially I am also satisfied. My annual cost for a home warranty policy has averaged around $500 and fit with no trouble into my $18,000 annual baseline budget**. Aside from the $100 per call deductible, I have been totally shielded from large repair or replacement bills. I have contained my home repair costs and avoided nasty cost surprises.
In short, having a home warranty policy has given me much more control over my expenses. And it has reduced my level of homeowner stress. Home warranty policies have certainly worked for me.
*Repair It or Replace It?:
**My $18K Annual Baseline Budget: