Millions of American homeowners purchase home warranties to protect from a furnace, air conditioner or kitchen appliance breakdown.
But one couple is furious, saying the warranty they bought for peace of mind has turned them down when they need it most.
Corey Kessell says his 25-year-old central air unit started blowing warm air one day.
"The AC line was hot. There was no moisture or condensation on it," he said.
Thought home warranty would replace
Kessell and his wife Kristi thought their $400 warranty from Choice Home Warranty would take care of it, with their promise of, "If we can't fix it, we'll replace it."
So they were stunned when the company denied their claim.
"They said it was due to homeowner neglect, stating we didn't take of it, that corrosion had built up around the sensors and so forth," Kessell said. "They were basically handing it back to us, that it was our problem, not theirs."
Kristi Kessell says a phone rep was more blunt with her: "She said it was too old, and they will not replace it."
This is a common complaint with home warranties. People buy them because their appliances are getting old. After all, you don't really need one a year or two after you replaced all your kitchen appliances or air conditioning.
We contacted Choice Home, and the company issued a statement saying claims are never denied simply due to an appliance's age. The company also promised to re-examine their claim.
Better Business Bureau record
But Choice Home has a C-plus rating from the Better Business Bureau, with more than 3,000 complaints. The BBB has an alert about the company's advertising tactics.
In 2015, meantime, Choice Home paid a $700,000 settlement to the state of New Jersey to settle a case over repairs denied when customers did not provide years worth of service records.
Complaint boards are filled with other complaints about appliance repairs denied due to the age of the appliance. And a Google search turns up news reports like this one from Indiana, as well as this one from Chicago, and this one from Arizona about Choice Home denying older air conditioner and appliance replacements.
"I'm very upset," Corey Kissell said. "I took out the home warranty for a purpose, that if something did go wrong it could be covered."
Should you buy a warranty?
Home warranties can be a good purchase. But to protect yourself:
- Research the company online before you buy one, and read reviews and complaints.
- Look at their Better Business Bureau record.
- Save all service receipts to prove you had it professionally cleaned and inspected annually.
- Find out if you can you use your own professional repairman, or are required to use only the repairman they send you, when he can get to you?
Make sure you're good with their terms, so you don't waste your money.
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