With the high cost of repairs and the lack of disposable income, home warranty insurance protection plans have become very popular. So are they worth the expense? I have a little personal experience with my own home and a purchased warranty so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject.
We purchased our current home a little over a year ago and one of the perks to entice potential buyers was an included third party home warranty purchased by the seller. I have to admit, when buying an older home, it sure does ease your concerns about the home falling apart right after you close.
A home warranty plan is simply insurance you can buy against sudden and accidental breakdown. Typical coverage is for the mechanical systems of your home such as electrical, plumbing, furnace, and hot water heater. Our plan included a few extras such as our appliances, central air, pool pump and filter. Our plan would cover the cost of repair or replacement minus a seventy five dollar fee which is paid at the time of repair. Structural repairs such as our roof were not covered. Companies and plans vary so do your homework if you’re considering buying a plan for your home.
Home protection plans are not replacements for home owner’s insurance, it’s just an extra piece of mind. Don’t skip having the home you are planning to buy inspected because it includes such a policy. Always hire a licensed professional inspector to look the place over.
So, are they worth the money? In my personal example, even if I had purchased the plan with my own money I would have came out far ahead financially. In fact, we renewed our policy at my expense without hesitation. Shorty after we moved in we lost electricity in two rooms. Our bathtub in the second bathroom started leaking behind the wall. We purchased the home in the winter and in late spring when we opened the pool we discovered the sand filtration system was shot. Those three items combined cost me $225 ($75 x 3 occurrences). Our home warranty plan paid over $3000 for the repairs and a new pool filter.
As you can see, we saved in that situation. I renewed the plan for another year because the alternative would be to use a credit card when something major breaks and that’s not a plan at all. Ideally you would have an emergency fund building interest somewhere but until you have that established a home warranty might just be the answer. We even added the washer and dryer to this year’s plan.
Tip: Even though we knew we would renew, we made them work at selling it. We ended up with a free upgrade with a lowered initial repair fee of $40 rather than the $75.
The bottom line is how much risk you’re willing to take. You can save $250 to $500 a year by skipping the home warranty if you’re a gambler. It is a large expense, especially if you believe the risks are low due to the condition of your home. How do I see it? If my 20 year old furnace or my 50 gallon hot water heater goes out, I’m going to be very happy to write that $40 check to have it repaired or replaced. If nothing at all happens I’m still ahead and I didn’t have to worry about it for a year. If my home were newer and everything was under five years old, I’d probably take the $500 and get that emergency fund started.