What Do Home Warranties Cover? 5 FAQ About Home Warranties, Answered by an Expert

a woman kneeling next to a broken washer with water on the floor

No one likes waking up to find their Greek yogurt spoiled and their ice melted. Or perhaps the clothes in the dryer are still wet or the dishwasher won’t start. If this happens to you, what do you do? 

If you have a home warranty, all you need to do is log on to your warranty company’s website or pick up the phone to get the problem fixed. 

But is it really that easy? We reached out to Matan Slagter, CEO of Armadillo, a technology-based home warranty company, to find out! 

First, what do home warranties cover? 

Contrary to what some believe, a home warranty is not homeowners insurance. 

“It’s a combination of coverage, protection and service,” says Matan, who began his career in insurance and spent 10 years at AIG, where he fell in love with the warranty business. “It’s really just protection for a lot of the things that break down in the home regularly.” 

Home warranties are protection plans that cover the breakdowns of the home systems and appliances, such as the HVAC system, plumbing system, electrical system, kitchen appliances and more. Some home warranties also include a pool or spa, septic pumps, well pumps, grills, and even roofs.

Matan finds that home warranties are popular in the Midwest, Texas, Arizona, California, and Florida. 

How does a home warranty work? 

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Get your appliances fixed fast.

The first step to getting your appliance repaired or replaced is to put in a request. 

While each home warranty company has a slightly different process, most companies have a way to request service via an online service portal, email, or phone. 

For Armadillo, “You can contact our call center, which is open 24/7, and talk to one of your Armadillo home pros to file a claim or scan the QR code [on the Armadillo refrigerator magnet]. It’ll bring the homeowner to our service request portal.”

Once you put in the request, either a company representative or a service technician will reach out to schedule the service. If it’s an emergency, some companies will fast-track your service. 

“A perfect example is – it’s a hundred-degree day and the AC is out,” says Matan. “We force book those and do whatever it takes. We will also give you an option to just call your own technician.”

If you have a favorite electrician or plumber you’ve worked with for years, some companies, like Armadillo, may allow you to work with them. However, some companies only allow their professionals to service your house. 

Different warranty companies have different timeframes for services. Since Armadillo has a network of technicians, they typically have a professional out to a member’s home within 48 hours. Unfortunately, some companies have longer wait times. That’s why it’s imperative to do research before purchasing a home warranty. 

Ok, but who pays the repair bills?

a service technican fixing a refrigerator as part of a home warranty
Who gets the bill?

Again, each home warranty may be a bit different. Some offer yearly contracts with a service fee per call. Others have a monthly subscription fee. Prior to choosing a company, you should find the plan that works best for you. 

Armadillo pays their network of technicians directly, so you don’t have to. If you use your own technician, you’ll play your provider and send a detailed invoice to your warranty company for reimbursement. Of course, you’ll want to double-check with the company for what you’ll need to submit.  

Explains Matan, “We’ll send you a text and an email in advance, describing what we need. Then you’ll typically get reimbursed within 24 to 48 hours, either Venmo, PayPal or whatever form of payment you choose.”

What happens if an appliance needs to be replaced?

Similar to the repair services, a home warranty company generally facilitates the appliance or system replacement with a new one. They can also provide the homeowner with the money to do so themselves. 

Explains Matan, “We find that consumers like to get the cash, shop, and maybe add another $1,000 on top of that to buy a banging new refrigerator.”

Armadillo - Effortless Home Warranty

With a home warranty, do homeowners have to complete home maintenance? 

A home warranty isn’t a replacement for home maintenance. 

“Maintenance is super important,” says Matan. “Who wants to deal with a repair or breakdown? Even if you have an Armadillo, it’s disruptive.”

Changing air filters, cleaning refrigerator coils and dryer exhaust vents, flushing your hot water heater – it’s all important in preventing the breakdown of major appliances and systems. After all, no one wants to be without hot water or air-conditioning. 

a girl sitting in front of a fan, eating a watermelon
Get your air conditioning fixed fast!

“Even at our best, if it’s a really hot day, 90-plus degrees day and your air-conditioning is out, we can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to get that fixed the same day,” says Matan. “It’s disruptive and better to maintain your appliances, so they’ll last longer.”

How long after buying a house can you get a home warranty?

We might sound like a broken record, but each warranty company works differently. Also, each home warranty product may work differently. Compare and contrast policies before buying a product, but generally, you can buy a home warranty at any time. 

For new homeowners 

Many home buyers purchase a home warranty when buying their home. Depending on your warranty company, your coverage may start day one. 

“The coverage will become effective on the date of closing, the day the house becomes yours,” says Matan about Armadillo’s new homeowner plans. “There’s no waiting period.”

This is important, even if you received a home inspection for an older home. 

a couple sitting on the couch surrounded by boxes
Be prepared for appliance issues.

“That first year is typically when things really break down, even if the inspection report said that everything is okay,” says Matan. “Home inspections are great, but they can miss things.”

However, a home’s pre-existing conditions are not covered by a home warranty.  

“If there was a home inspection report and the home inspection report said, HVAC is shot. It has been shot for a year or clearly not working – we wouldn’t cover that.”

For existing homeowners 

If you’re an existing homeowner, then Armadillo provides a monthly, subscription-based plan. 

“Think of it like Netflix for home,” says Matan. 

For this plan, homeowners have a 30-day waiting period before they can make a service request. That’s why it’s important to check with your warranty company regarding start dates when selecting your plan.  

Remember – always read your service contract

With a traditional home warranty, most service contracts are 10 to 15 pages long with fine print. Most customers don’t read it, and much of the content includes exclusions. Make sure to read your contract (and read the fine print) to know what your warranty covers.

“Our service contract is two pages long,” says Matan. “That’s not because we’re creative writers or know how to condense and summarize things. It’s literally because we removed – I would say conservatively speaking, 80%, probably 90% of the exclusions that are in a typical home warranty plan.”

The most important thing about a home warranty is the peace of mind you get, knowing someone has your back when you need it. 

“Maintenance is important to maintain your home,” says Matan, “but when something breaks, Armadillo is there to fix it.”

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