Ask Val: Do I Need a Home Warranty?

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: We are under contract for a single family house near Tysons and we are trying to decide if we need to purchase a home warranty. How do home warranties work and what do they cover?

Answer: Getting a home warranty is always a great idea, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer with no experience in maintaining a home. The last thing you want after purchasing a home is an emergency repair that you did not budget for.

A home warranty is an annual service contract that provides repairs for your home, and pays for the replacement or repair of major appliances and home systems (like an HVAC system).

Don’t mistake a warranty for homeowners insurance, which covers your home’s structure and belongings in the event of a fire, flood, or other accidents.

How Does It Work and How Much Does It Cost?                                 

Home warranty companies have agreements with licensed service providers. When something that is covered by a home warranty needs repair, the homeowner calls the home warranty company, which sends a service provider to check the problem. If the provider determines that the needed repair or replacement is covered by the warranty, they complete the work. The homeowner only pays a co-pay, which usually is a flat rate of $75-$125.

The exact price of a home warranty depends on the coverage level you choose. Many companies offer basic plans and add-ons depending on your needs. A typical annual cost might be $200 for major appliances and $600 for a policy covering HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems.

I had the opportunity to talk to Jonathan Asfour with Super Home Warranty, and he answered some of the most frequent questions people have when it comes to home warranties:

What’s Covered?

Always check with your home warranty provider to confirm what’s included in your plan. Coverage usually includes:

  • Built-in Microwave
  • Clothes Dryer
  • Clothes Washer
  • Dishwasher
  • Range, oven and cooktop
  • Refrigerator/Freezer
  • Range Exhaust Fan
  • Trash Compactor
  • Garbage Disposal
  • Air Conditioning
  • Heat System/Heat Pump
  • Ductwork
  • Water Heater
  • Interior Electrical
  • Interior Plumbing
  • Sprinkler System

Super also offers a concierge program where we can get almost anything that you’d typically ask a superintendent to do for you (painting, pest control, yard work, handyman fixes, etc.). We also have included maintenance as well — this includes a pre-season HVAC tune up, carpet cleaning and re-key service, all for the price of our co-pay of $75.

The biggest issues that people typically are worried about are any HVAC or water heater claims, as these can be fairly pricey. Home warranties mitigate that risk and cover most (if not all) of costs of repairs to those items.

What If It Can’t Be Fixed?

If your covered appliance or system simply can’t be repaired, your home warranty will provide a replacement of like kind and quality, or they will write you a check.

How Does The Co-pay Work?

For your covered items, we charge a co-pay to your account at the beginning of your appointment. The co-pay amount is the same regardless of how much time a pro spends at your house and is only charged one time per incident (even if the repair or replacement takes more than one service visit). There is no cap on the number of breakdown incidents you can claim, but all claims are subject to coverage limits.

Thanks Jonathan! If you want more information about Super Home Warranty, you can email him at [email protected].

Other Helpful Info

  • A home warranty can also benefit home sellers, since it can cover repairs during the listing period and it can transfer to the buyers once the purchase is complete.
  • Most home warranties won’t cover a full replacement of your roof. Your home warranty contract will cover repairs due to leaks.
  • A Home Warranty should not replace a Home Inspection.

I hope I’ve helped answer some of your home warranty questions. If you’d like more information, or would like a question answered in my column, please reach out to [email protected]. I hope to hear from you soon.

Val Sotillo is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 4040 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite #10C Arlington, VA 22203, 703-390-9460.

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