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American Home Shield

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DanHolohan
DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
Have you had any experience with this company? I just read this story about them:

http://wreg.com/2017/12/22/georgia-man-drives-to-america-home-shield-to-get-heating-fixed/
Retired and loving it.
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Comments

  • mikeg2015
    mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,194
    edited December 2017
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    No experience with that company. But I've heard plenty of stories.

    I've rarely heard anything good about any home warranties.

    1) Their goal is not to actually repair the problem correctly, but to get it working to reach the end of the warranty. Analogy, you need knee replacement, but the insurance company just keep giving you ibuprofen and a fancy knee brace and says this is fine, knowing it will hold you off 1 more year until your policy expires.

    2) They want to spend as little as possible. lowest bid contractors are often called. This is probably in part because they will try and deny claims from reputable installers.

    3) They won't pay to install a replacement correctly.

    The whole system would work just fine if ASRAE guidelines were followed and there was a requirements that equipment manuals were followed. The medical profession at least has this in general. There are established practices and minimum certification standards for practitioners.

    When I've bought a home, I've always just asked for credits or priced in HVAC system repairs and replacements and we just plan on taking out an equity loan or holding some reserves right away to cover those. I've now replaced systems or make major modification to 4 of the last 5 homes we've owned in 14 years (yes we've moved too much).

    Home warranty wasn't going to spend $1500 on piping insulation, main vents, radiator vents, vaporstat, and hours of my time skimming, flushing, and balancing the system. To them it either makes heat or doesn't.
    IronmanSolid_Fuel_Man
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,949
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    HVAC-TALK.Com has horror stories concerning Home Warranty Company's.

    Worthless bottom feeders. They make the $49 boiler tune up guys look good!
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,605
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    There is no upside to these types of policies. You pay a premium, they find the cheapest person to fix the problem, maybe . Don't forget the deductible.
    Better business bureaus are just local marketing companies. If a company gets a "B", that is the worst rating you can get.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Sal Santamaura
    Sal Santamaura Member Posts: 532
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    Have you had any experience with this company?

    No, but, despite reportedly falling short when heating systems need repairs, they'd probably come through just fine in the event of a zombie apocalypse. :D

    In my opinion, any such entity that relies on a massive TV advertising campaign to push its 'product' is usually worth avoiding.
    Ironman
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,047
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    In my rep business I saw a couple companies (Triad and EWC) come into the HVAC/P&H business. Both had really tight plans, great ratings, etc. Both lasted several years of enormous sales and then when the claims came in they folded. For a contractor with those warranties you are potentially compromising your business, imho. I think Sears, when they were a real going concern, started the Extended Warranty game. Recently I was in Best Buy to purchase a Sonos Connect 1 unit. At check-out I was asked to buy their extended warranty. I refused. The girl said that if I didn't buy their warranty they would not support the factory warranty. She was pretty determined. I bought it elsewhere.
    mikeg2015Ironman
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,448
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    I did work for them a number of years ago... It was not a fun experience. They required me to get authorization for anything over $50.
    Then they didn't pay me full price for the work I did.
    I have actually turned down work from potential customers because AHS was involved.
    I also was tired of being the bearer of bad news that the repair " was not covered".
    They still call to get me to do work for them from time to time.....
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,544
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    > @Harvey
    >
    > Anyway, I make it abundantly clear the the HO is responsible for paying me directly and the warranty is between him and the warranty company.

    Ditto!
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 17,000
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    Nothing further to add to what was already posted. Our company will not deal with these companies, period. They are one of the worst rip-offs around.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Ironmandelta T
  • mikeg2015
    mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,194
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    I can’t imagine how they’d handle a boiler with a leak. Probably want to use JB Weld or like bars stop leak like a car radiator.
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 857
    edited December 2017
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    I have previously dealt with American Home Shield (AHS) when I worked for other companies.

    I have very little, if anything, good to say about them.

    Occasionally, the system works, and the "customer" gets their problem solved. But they make the on-site worker jump through hoops.

    So anybody who wants to do a good job for the "customer" will have their soul crushed.

    In one instance, I was sent out to find and repair a leak through the kitchen ceiling of a AHS "customer".

    After collecting the $50 fee, I called for authorization to cut open the ceiling.

    After being on hold for some time, feeling my life bleeding away, the conversation went something like this:

    "I need authorization to open the ceiling to find the leak before I can give a meaningful estimate to repair the problem."

    "You are authorized to open the ceiling and remove no more than two square feet of drywall."

    "And if I don't find the leak in the area I open, then what?"

    "Call back for further authorization (or we won't cover the cost)."

    Yep, there is little to compare to being micro-managed by a non-qualified individual sitting in a office somewhere a half a continent away.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
    kcoppIronmanSolid_Fuel_Man
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    Many, if not most of these policies only cover repair, not replacement, like in when a boiler springs a leak in the block. If people would have the discipline to put that annual premium aside, they probably can cover their own costs for repairs.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,102
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    My niece has some home warranty insurance. AC quit working. They would come out several times and top off the charge because they did not want to replace the coil. They wanted to get to the end of the policy time. I wonder if the company would have been smart enough to not renew it. Considering the cost of R-22.
    Her father was insistent that they fix the problem. They just kept adding r-22, he got her to not renew with them.

    I have never heard of any company doing people good.
    On the rare occasion they get stuck and actually have to spend some real money.
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,736
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    We:
    Collect as we go
    Don’t bill 3rd party
    Charge for warranty materials if it’s a system we didn’t install,or, we installed it but haven’t been doing regular maintenance. If/when we get reimbursed from the manufacturer we promptly mail a check for the amount we received
    Have never worked for American Home Shield
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    gary@wilsonph.com
    Ironmanratio
  • Paul Fredricks_3
    Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,557
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    I have had to deal with them twice. The worst one was a few years back. No heat call and it was 5°. Young couple with a new born. The repair company the insurance company sent in said it was a maintenance issue. Since we had the contract I was sent to check it out.

    They had a warm air furnace that was at least 50 years old. The blower had fallen apart, bad bearings caused the shaft to each through the housing. No replacement would be available, and trying to cobble in a different blower was not the way to go. This furnace was shot.

    I spoke to the insurance company or 10 minutes before they understood what I was telling them, that the furnace needed to be replaced. She said that was not what was originally allowed for this call, so she would have to send the info to a committee and have them decide what to do. They didn't seem to care that there was no heat and that they had a baby.

    Policy now is that the customer can talk to them all they want, but we won't get on the phone with them.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,241
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    Not them, but "the other white meat" (remember that commercial promoting pork?) that I see in Long Island with the red trucks (hint hint). Some of the wealthier neighborhoods are CRAWLING with them. They have a great concept and I understand why folks use them, but I have come behind them on some boiler issues that were missed. Of course the H.O.'s were quite pissed!
    Mad Dog
    GordyRobert O'Brien
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,605
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    These so called "Insurance providers" are no different than health care HMO's. They think with their business sense and marketing they can homogenize the process and skim a nifty profit. They see the heating trade as a commodity. Never let your work become a commodity. I avoid them at all costs....
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    GordoSolid_Fuel_ManIronmanRobert O'Brien
  • FranklinD
    FranklinD Member Posts: 399
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    They’re the same thing as the fly-by-night automotive warranties you see advertised on tv during daytime programming: a way for someone to make money.

    They’ll take every opportunity to make a buck, but when a service is required of them, they’ll deny it or pay bottom dollar in a way that makes you wish you’d just saved the monthly payments towards the repair.

    I used to deal with the companies that offer extended powertrain warranties all the time when I was working as a dealer tech on flat rate (commission). Spending several unpaid hours on the phone just to receive an impossible task involving records & paperwork. Sure, a few vehicles got repaired, but they’d usually sit on our lot for at least 3-4 weeks before that happened - and then they’d pay an average of 40-50% of the total bill.

    I don’t accept them at my shop. If you want to use one, that’s fine, but the burden is on you. Pay me normally and then go get reimbursed from them...I’m not making enough from this emergency water pump repair to deal with your paperwork hassle.
    Ford Master Technician, "Tinkerer of Terror"
    Police & Fire Equipment Lead Mechanic, NW WI
    Lover of Old Homes & Gravity Hot Water Systems
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
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    When selling a home the real estate agents really push adding the home warranty as a selling point. Keeps the buyer off the sellers back for that 12 month period when the buyer can go back on the seller for certain things. Sounds great to the buyer. 100 dollar deductible.

    Hey @FranklinD I had the extended warranty on my Acadia. Thank god. I used it for about 7k in claims. Good return for 1500 invested. However that warranty was through the dealership.

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,635
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    As a customer... If I need repair or maintenance, I find a qualified person for the job. I pay a fair price (I've rarely been "taken" -- fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me). I pay either on the day the work is done, if you present a bill, or the day the bill arrives in the mail. That's just how I do business.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    CanuckerZmanSolid_Fuel_Man
  • unclejohn
    unclejohn Member Posts: 1,833
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    I had a customer that had a old radiant zone manifold I think was uponor. Anyway it had 4 zone valves built in you could not replace just one power head you had to replace the whole thing. The customer paid me then I got a call from AHS saying they would only pay for the one bad valve not four. I explain that it was a 4 valve manifold and you could not replace just one. He argued with me about how they would only pay for the bad part less this and that. I said didn't matter since I already got paid. He then says since I didn't get prior approval they would not pay any thing on the claim. It is a racket.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    I have been following this thread. BTW great thread @DanHolohan. I honestly don't know how some people can sleep at night. I can understand the approval process from a business standpoint, but when you can't trust the techs and argue with them well..... racket for sure!
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    edited December 2017
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    These warranty fees to HO for coverage are based on what? Home value? Systems covered? Condition of property? Condition of systems? Deductible?

    How do you offer a home warranty based on a blanket fee to each person covered, and be profitable? Most home warranties offer 3 different levels of coverage not based on what’s covereds age, or condition.

    I think they are finding this out.
  • FranklinD
    FranklinD Member Posts: 399
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    @Gordy - Yep, I should’ve added that the “Extended Factory Warranties” are the exception to the rule. I forget what the name of the GM one is, but Ford has the “Ford ESP” plans...ESP stands for “Extended Service Plan”...powertrain, bumper to bumper, etc, depending on how much you want to pay.

    I was referring mainly to the warranties that are advertised on daytime and midnight television that seem too good to be true - because they are
    Ford Master Technician, "Tinkerer of Terror"
    Police & Fire Equipment Lead Mechanic, NW WI
    Lover of Old Homes & Gravity Hot Water Systems
  • FranklinD
    FranklinD Member Posts: 399
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    Oops, it cut off the rest of my comment.

    But yes, the factory extended warranties are worth it in most cases. The aftermarket ones are a joke in my opinion.

    I can’t imagine “Home warranties” are any better.
    Ford Master Technician, "Tinkerer of Terror"
    Police & Fire Equipment Lead Mechanic, NW WI
    Lover of Old Homes & Gravity Hot Water Systems
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
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    The way I understood, home warranties were meant to help first time home buyers who can become very house poor in a hurry, defray costs of simple breakdowns in the equipment which "passed" the "inspection" from the "home inspector" (an "inspector" which most banks require in a loan approval process). We all know those "inspectors" are mostly a joke when it comes to finding actual big $$ issues, so - there you go. These "warranties" are also usually purchased by the seller in order to sweeten the deal when selling a home, so, in essence, it is a scheme not really meant to cover anything, but to push a home sale closer to realization.

    I believe the logic is that if it's used by the new house owner for a service call, it's no skin off their back - seller paid for insurance. If it's a serious break-down not covered, well - it didn't cover it in the first place. With actuarial tables in their pocket, your bet should always be on the insurance company. And, as always, caveat emptor!
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited December 2017
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    @MilanD , That's the way these companies got started, years ago. They were called "Whole House" Policies. They are still offered, as part of a home sale but everybody and his brother has since entered that market and they sell to anyone who wants to buy a policy, as does American Home Shield. Even the utilities and Municipalities have gotten into the act. They sell warranties on items like all or part of the plumbing, inside only or inside and to the street, supply lines only or supply and waste, water only or water and gas. The utilities, here, in Dayton, sell heating system warranties, forced air and/or boilers. They all seem to use licensed contractors who may or may not have the expertise to cover a repair, like an HVAC company that isn't versed in Steam or Hot water, etc. I have coverage through my utility company for my water/waste lines. It was very cheap and just added to my gas bill. I had occasion to use it a couple years ago when I had the main water shut-off fail and I had to have the water shut off at the street to make the repair. The utility sent a plumber out to fix it and he decided the entire line out to the street should be replaced. The time from his call to final approval was about two months, which, in my case was fine. I had water, just a main shut-off that I couldn't turn off. They came out, replaced the entire line, hammered it in from the basement to the street. Only dug a hole at the street where they had to connect the new line, graded the area and left. My monthly premiums still haven't covered the cost of that job so, in my case, it was worth the money. Had it been an emergency, I'm not sure how happy I would have been. They are very slow to approve the expense.
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
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    @Fred I must be living under a rock. Never even seen these offers here in Cincinnati... But I also haven't been looking. If it's not on the policy with the home owner's insurance, I stay away from them. Boxing money out of insurance companies is a losing proposition in my experience.

    Glad you had a good experience with it! As I said, it's caveat emptor for all of it!

    We had that Home Shield when we bought our first home, and that's all we had it for, and never used it. It did make the sale more palatable at that time, with me not knowing a first thing about mechanical systems of a home back in the day. I have since learned and done a lot of work myself - from replacing DWH, to soldering copper, repiping boilers... running electrical lines, as well as repairing of water lines in the yard... Warranties like this do not really have value to me at this time. In a few decades when I won't feel like repairing things myself, I'll probably be looking at them. :smile:
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
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    @MilanD , You don't see the commercials on TV? American Home Shield is on there constantly. The Utilities and the Municipal water bills come packed with insurance literature here.
  • Leon82
    Leon82 Member Posts: 684
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    my parents have a 300 foot driveway with a plastic water line under it. the meter is at the curb.

    they enrolled in the water companies pipe safe insurance program. the pipe broke twice after. they fixed the leak the first time and the whole pipe the second.
    then they said they wouldn't insure them any more.

  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
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    Leon82 said:

    my parents have a 300 foot driveway with a plastic water line under it. the meter is at the curb.

    they enrolled in the water companies pipe safe insurance program. the pipe broke twice after. they fixed the leak the first time and the whole pipe the second.
    then they said they wouldn't insure them any more.

    Lol replace the whole water line. Now you know it’s new, and won’t insure it. Make sense? Free easy money for covering something that’s brand new. Unless........they did a crap job replacing it. Did it break from freezing?

  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
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    @Fred ha, I actually have not watched TV in years.
    IronmanSolid_Fuel_ManGordy
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,565
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    Wise man!
    Retired and loving it.
    JUGHNEIronmanSolid_Fuel_ManMilanD
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    I agree, TV has too many commercials! :#
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • Leon82
    Leon82 Member Posts: 684
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    Gordy said:

    Leon82 said:

    my parents have a 300 foot driveway with a plastic water line under it. the meter is at the curb.

    they enrolled in the water companies pipe safe insurance program. the pipe broke twice after. they fixed the leak the first time and the whole pipe the second.
    then they said they wouldn't insure them any more.

    Lol replace the whole water line. Now you know it’s new, and won’t insure it. Make sense? Free easy money for covering something that’s brand new. Unless........they did a crap job replacing it. Did it break from freezing?

    I don't think so. it was 20or 25 years old at that point
  • adambnyc
    adambnyc Member Posts: 260
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    My family stayed with my sister-in-law last year during the holidays in Baltimore. Their electric HW heater died. They called up their home warranty company and the next day a tech with a brand new hot water heater showed up and swapped it out. I was pretty shocked.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    @adambnyc Wow, did it leak or just die? If the latter, you'd think an element replacement would have at least been considered. But hey, I'm cheap!
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
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    You know, I took some marketing classes in college, many years ago. Had a great teacher and to this day I remember him telling us that companies hire psychologists and pay them serious $$ to figure out how to get people to purchase stuff they don't need, spend more $$ than necessary, all the while getting customers less pd off at companys' reps when they call with a complain, by placing you on hold by default before getting you to a live person, and then playing a particular type of hold music for a set period of time, on purpose... They use applied science and the given industry's best practices to get people to act to the best interest of the company, use research on how to get you to relax by what music to play when you are on hold, plus having them still separate you from your hard-earned dollars. Department stores and grocery stores, and any store that plays music will have more sales than ones that don't. It's quite sophisticated. You as a consumer stand little chance to control the situation or your action.

    Once you remember the house always wins, you do have a chance. How does the old adage go about separating a fool from his money... All these insurance schemes I look at in that light. Like that poor man from Mr. Holohan's post being strung along for 3 months... And no recourse. I have in the past successfully used the state Attorney General's office once and a threat of reporting another time to successfully resolve issues I had with 2 major companies at 2 separate times. I was eventually made whole but it wasted a lot of my time. These guys know it and stringing you along is their profit maximizing strategy. Like health insurance and denial of coverage for services doctor prescribed as needed.

    At any rate, I try to separate myself from the racket. Avoiding TV is one of the ways. Ad blocker on my web browser is the other. Not being tempted is the 3rd.
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Circa1902
    Circa1902 Member Posts: 20
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    I have had AHS once, as a homeowner, and actually had a good experience. I do not doubt any of the feedback above but I will share my story, take it for what it's worth. I have no affiliation with the company aside from being a customer for a few years.

    We bought a house in Texas years ago, when we bought it the house was about 20 years old. Appliances were all original, water heater was original too. The AC was fairly new, and well maintained, because in Texas, you do not let AC maintenance lapse.

    The sellers realized that, to prospective buyers, buying a house full of 20 year old appliances was a minor cause for concern, so their agent advised them to address this at sale by paying for a year or two of Home Warranty service, plus a $500 allowance back to the buyer for minor issues (service call fees and such).

    We were buying the house anyway but certainly appreciated them including the warranty. We bought the house and started the warranty.

    Sure enough, within the first year, we had the wall oven, the dishwasher, the built in microwave, AND the built in 20-year old SubZero fridge all fail. (Luckily no HVAC failures.)

    Each time something happened, the procedure went something like this. We'd call the warranty company, they'd send someone out about a week later (not thrilled with the downtime here). Paid $50 i think per service call. The guy would look at the broken appliance, and give us a quote for repair (if repairable... the fridge was not, and the dishwasher was not). The repair cost if applicable, was usually about the replacement cost of a similar, new appliance.

    So he (or we) would submit this to the warranty company, and each time the warranty company would give us the choice of having it repaired or taking the money and buying a replacement unit, which we did in all cases.

    So another week or two later a check would show up, and we'd go appliance shopping. In all cases it was relatively painless (aside from having to wait to schedule the authorized repair guy, and waiting for the check) and they just cut a check to resolve the issue. Sometimes I felt like the amount was more than fair, sometimes it didn't fully cover the replacement cost (fridge for example)

    They never dropped our coverage or failed to pay.

    Again I do not doubt any of the horror stories posted on here, nor did I have any large-scale failures (HVAC) that would cost into the thousands of dollars for repair or replacement. The fridge was by far the largest payout they gave us and I think it was $1500. Everything else was well short of $1000. It's possible that they pay out smaller claims with less friction, and end up fighting consumers on the larger ones.
    Solid_Fuel_ManZman
  • adambnyc
    adambnyc Member Posts: 260
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    @Solid_Fuel_Man the element died and the tech noticed that it was also leaking so they swapped the unit. They actually swapped it twice, the first one they replaced didn’t work at all, was an AO Smith I think
    Solid_Fuel_Man