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How to avoid being scammed when getting a home warranty

A Couple investigating some home warranty guidelines in his phone, upon purchasing their home

Regardless of how old you are and where you are from, owning a home is a milestone. It signals a transition to a new state of being, suggesting thresholds being crossed. After all, nothing says “I’m an adult” better than being a homeowner.

While home ownership feels liberating, it is also laden with responsibility. When the initial euphoria wears off, you’ll face the reality of turning the home into the sanctuary you and your family can enjoy for years.

Even if you buy a new home, you’ll still need to protect it from damage, maintain its condition, and take care of repairs. Unlike renting an apartment, you won’t have a landlord to take care of fixes – all that becomes your sole responsibility.

A home warranty procured from a reputable company can be your safety net when home appliances and/or HVAC systems break down due to normal wear and tear. This option saves you the hassle of looking up individual technicians specializing in the kind of repair work you need.

Nevertheless, not all home warranty providers are on the up and up. Some will find loopholes in the contract to deny your claims, saddle you with unexpected service charges, refuse to take your calls, or take days before sending a technician over. All these leave you, the homeowner, feeling frustrated and, yes, scammed.

To ensure that you don’t fall for a home warranty scam, here are a few steps to consider:

Take time to research

Home warranties are not to be confused with homeowners insurance, which cover your loss from unexpected events like fires and weather conditions. Home warranties cover the mundane like appliances breaking down.

While there are reputable companies that offer fair policies on their home warranties, others come with confusing contracts with loopholes that allow the company to shirk their responsibility at every turn, like withholding payouts.

Taking the time to research and take note of these malicious operations can save you the hassle and the expense of signing on to a useless home warranty policy. Thankfully, a quick online search is enough to weed out the bad apples.

Read customer reviews

Once the shadier companies are out of the running, it is time to dig deeper. Reading customer reviews and checking out the company rating at Better Business Bureau is a great way to protect your household from being scammed. Disgruntled customers are pretty vocal, especially online, so you shouldn’t have any problems with eliminating companies with bad feedback.

Take suggestions from your peers

Your homeowner friends are a great resource. Ask about their providers and their experience with their home warranty policy. Since you trust your peers, you should be able to trust their suggestions as well.

Review the contract

Malicious home warranty providers often use unclear and vague contracts to tie down their clients to policies that are barely worth anything. Some of them deliberately use confusing verbiage to make it more difficult for their customers to claim repairs.

As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to sift through the documents carefully. If you can, have a lawyer look through the contract for inclusions, exclusions, and possible loopholes.

Pinpoint costly exclusions

Most policy providers have a long list of exclusions as part of their contracts. Usually, these exclusions include parts of the home that almost always need repair. If you want specific exclusions to be part of your policy, you may have to pay a higher premium. Nevertheless, it is best to know what you are getting into before signing away your cash.

Double check the fine print

The fine print is usually where home warranty scams specify the limitations of their claims payouts. More often than not, the limitations include the maximum amount the provider is willing to pay for a specific repair. Some companies impose limits on certain items and not on others. There are businesses that are only willing to pay for the repair and not replacements.

Again, it is best to double-check what is included in the policy. Home warranties should give you peace of mind, not a false sense of security.

At the end of the day, home warranties alone aren’t the perfect solution. However, it is a layer of protection that can give you the peace of mind to finally feel at home in the house of your dreams.

For more information and expert advice on everything real estate particularly within East Washington, do not hesitate to reach out to me Lori Lewandowski. With three decades worth of experience, I am able to steer you towards making the right real estate decision. Contact me at 253.617.5922 or send me an email at lorilewandowski(at)gmail(dotted)com today!