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McCutcheon Air Conditioning and Heating Blog

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Beware of Home warranties that claim to cover your HVAC

Don’t fall for insurance companies that offer policy’s that supposedly will repair or even replace your AC when it fails. They never replace the system – they will just keep sending people out to patch it up and keep it barely running.

According to Angies List “Historically, home warranty service companies have been one of the "worst graded" categories on Angie's List. Members misunderstanding or disagreeing with what their warranties cover and the quality of repair work are cited in the majority of complaints.”

Read the fine print. Some home warranty companies claim to cover major appliances but will in fact only cover a small portion of the total repair cost. They will also most likely send an Less than quality contractor out for the work.

The average cost of a basic coverage plan ranges from $350 to $600 a year, plus $50 to $75 per service call. However, consumers frequently expect more from these plans than they deliver. Home warranties aren’t insurance policies. They’re service contracts.

Some reasons not to use a Home Warranty Program:

  • Don’t assume your policy will replace a faulty component. The warranty company may insist on repairing it instead.
  • You may not be able to call your favorite service provider. Home warranties usually require you to use a contracted servicer.
  • Home warranties rarely cover the entire cost. Claims may be rejected because of “pre-existing problems or insufficient maintenance”.
  • When your AC breaks down in the middle of the summer you will wait a lot longer for it to be repaired because the HVAC contractors who work for the home warranty company will always take care of their own customers first. Also, most established air conditioning companies refuse to work with home warranty companies because there are very low margin, pre-determined, diagnosis and repair payment rates.
  • The warranty companies have relationships with parts suppliers and usually want to provide the parts used for the repairs. The problem is they typically buy the cheapest part they can get…parts a technician would not put in his own AC unit because; “you get what you pay for”.
  • Repair vs. Replace: There are conditions where repair is just impractical and if dealing directly with the customer, my advice as a technician would be to replace the equipment for improved comfort, efficiency, and plain common sense. The home warranty company however will only replace a unit that is unrepairable (very rarely is a unit unrepairable). Even when deemed unrepairable, they provide the cheapest, least efficient “pieces” of new equipment, not complete new “systems”.
  • If you think that in the event of a catastrophic failure of your HVAC equipment you’ll be covered for a whole new central air and heating system…you’re probably in for more frustration and disappointment than you bargained for.

Find a good HVAC contractor to provide your maintenance and minor repairs as necessary, and when replacement time comes, you’ll get to choose the right system for you, your budget, and your needs.

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