The dryer's stopped drying. Now what?
People holding a home warranty might be in luck. A home warranty is a contract between a home warranty provider and a customer. The customer pays the provider monthly premiums; in exchange, the provider foots the bill for approved repair or replacement costs to the customer’s home appliances and systems.
If you are a home warranty customer and your dryer (or other system or appliance) malfunctions, the first step in getting it fixed is to file a claim with your provider. Although it can feel complicated, we’re here to help guide you through the process.
To help you save yourself time and money during the claims and maintenance process, we’ve listed out the three main steps to take after your appliance or system breaks down:
- Review and Understand Your Coverage
- File a Claim and Schedule a Technician
- Pay Any Additional Fees Directly to Your Contractor
1. Review and Understand Your Coverage
If you contact a maintenance professional to service an appliance or system that your home warranty provider does not cover, you’ll pay a hefty, out-of-pocket sum. To avoid a drain on your wallet, start the claims process by reviewing your contract.
Contracts can be long, intimidating documents. Instead of re-reading the entire stack, hunt down the following bits of information:
Start here. Coverage inclusions contain every appliance and system that your home warranty covers.
Many contracts are even more explicit, naming the specific components, parts, and hardware that are covered inside of an item. For example, if the electronic control panel on your stove breaks, first check your contract to ensure that your home warranty covers your stove. If the answer is yes, read the fine print: does your home warranty cover the electronic control panel component of your stove?
A contract’s coverage exclusions will reference the appliances, systems, or components that your home warranty company does not cover. You should scan this information before contacting your provider to double-check that your appliance or system is not excluded.
Note: Exclusion information will be written less explicitly than inclusion information. Rather than list every nut and bolt, many providers will only cover the broad strokes. For example, one contract may exclude all appliances, whereas a different contract may exclude all items without a repair history.
A contract’s coverage limits list the maximum amount of money your home warranty company will pay to repair or replace a broken appliance or system. Coverage limits typically reset each year.
There are two types of coverage limits:
- Inclusive: Inclusive coverage limits set a maximum repair or replacement cost that is shared across all of the covered items in the contract. For example, a homeowner may have a $5,000 coverage limit that is shared between their microwave, lighting, air conditioning system, and other covered items.
- Exclusive: Exclusive coverage limits set maximum repair/replacement costs for every covered item. For example, a washing machine may have a $1,000 limit, whereas a microwave may have a $100 limit.
Home warranty providers require their customers to pay a service fee (out of pocket) every time they meet with a technician, even when the technician works with covered appliances or systems.
Service fees may be flat or sliding, depending on the contract. Every time you file a claim and call a technician, expect to pay anywhere from $75–$125 in service fees.
2. File a Claim and Schedule a Technician
Now that you’ve confirmed that your broken item is covered by your home warranty, it’s time to officially file a claim.
Usually, the claims process is short and sweet. Here are the basic steps:
Contact Your Home Warranty Provider
Most home warranty companies have a unique contact form designed solely for claims. Your provider may have you send an email, call a representative over the phone, fill out a web portal, or use a mobile application: no matter the method, contacting your provider is always the first step.
During your claim, your provider will typically ask you for identifying information (name, member ID), information regarding your broken item (what kind of item is broken, how did it break), and information for your technician (home address, appropriate times to visit).
After submitting your claim, your provider will review it. This review typically takes one or two business days. If your provider deems that you are indeed covered for this claim request, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Schedule Your Maintenance Appointment
Providers will then ask you to confirm a time for a technician to visit the broken item in your home. Most providers will require you—or another customer listed on the contract—to be present during the appointment.
Some providers will select a technician for you, while others will allow you to choose a local technician in your nearby network. If your provider allows you to pick your own technician, you might have to contact the technician and schedule an appointment on your own.
Decide to Repair, Replace, or Do Nothing
On the day of your appointment, your technician will review your broken appliance/system to decide on the best course of action.
Before recommending repairs or replacements, your technician will tell you which components are broken and how they intend to fix them. Listen carefully: if the broken component is not covered by your home warranty plan, you may not want to consent to repairs or replacements. You can always contact your home warranty provider to double-check if a repair/replacement cost will be covered.
Let’s assume the components are covered by your home warranty. Here are your options:
- Repair or replace the item, bearing any costs that exceed your coverage limit.
- Receive a payout from your home warranty provider in the amount proportional to the item’s market value (which may be limited by your coverage limit).
3. Pay Any Additional Fees Directly to Your Contractor
Now that your appliance/system is on the mend, it’s time to pay out-of-pocket fees and finalize your claim.
Here are the final steps:
Pay the Service Fee
Before your technician leaves the appointment, you’ll have to pay them an out-of-pocket service fee. Review your home warranty contract to find the price of the service fee.
Pay Any Non-Covered Fees
You may owe additional fees (even for covered items) if the cost of your repair or replacement exceeded your coverage limit.
There should be no surprises here: your contractor should have walked you through their repair/replacement plan, the costs associated, and the date when those costs will be due.
If a surprise fee does pop up, be sure to contact your home warranty provider to discuss the situation.
With your item fixed or replaced, and your technician out the door, it’s time to finalize your claim (if necessary).
Your home warranty company may require you to submit follow-up information after your technician appointment. Don’t worry: you won’t be responsible for sending out any technical or pricing information; that will be your technician’s responsibility.
And that’s it! With your item fixed, out-of-pocket fees paid, and your claim accepted, you’re ready to move on with your day.
It’s Not Too Late to Sign Up for a Home Warranty
If you haven’t signed up for a home warranty just yet, now is the right time.
We’ve compiled a list of the best home warranty companies on the market. From low monthly premiums to easy-to-file claims, our list is sure to have the coverage you’re looking for.