Maryland

Read the Fine Print When Selecting a Home Warranty

Home warranties promise to cut down on unexpected costs of home ownership, but several customers reached out to NBC4 Responds with examples of when their warranties didn’t deliver.

Issues range from customer service to problems with numerous unsuccessful repair attempts to not getting any response at all.

Mary Raftery of Stafford, Virginia, said her heat pump broke in November and after a month of going back and forth with her warranty company, Total Protect, she gave up.

“We paid out of pocket and had an entirely new system put in,” she said.

After News4 reached out to Total Protect, the company offered the Rafterys the option of doing the repair or a check for $835. The Rafterys chose the money since they had already replaced the system at a cost of $9,000.

Total Protect told News4 they "truly regret letting Mrs. Raftery down." They blamed delays on the service provider not submitting paperwork on time and not enough service partners during an unusual cold snap.

George Lowe of Fort Washington, Maryland, said he called his home warranty company, Choice Home Warranty, about his carbon monoxide detector and they put him in touch with a local service provider who didn’t show

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“From that day, Dec. 30 at 9:45, until today, Feb. 8, I have yet to receive a response,” Lowe said.

He said he hired another company and paid $4,600 out of pocket for a new heating system that should have been covered under his contract. Choice Home Warranty later agreed to reimburse him the maximum payout of $1,500.

Kevin Brasler of Washington Consumers’ Checkbook said home warranty companies might not tell you everything up front, like what is covered and what is not, so you've got to read the fine print.

Look for language in contracts like “examples of items not included.” Ask if there are more things not included and ask the company to clarify.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said his office receives many complaints regarding home warranties. After News4 reached out to him, he decided to take action.

“We've gone ahead and drafted an advisory for D.C. residents that will arm them with the right questions to ask and the right review to take before entering into a home service contract,” he said.

You can read the advisory here.

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