Here are our three top picks for slashing your repair bills when your household appliances are on the fritz.
You know the feeling. You’ve had your new smartphone for a week. You bend over to pick up your keys and — in slow motion — it slides out of your pocket and smacks the sidewalk. That pocking sound means your sleek new screen is shattered. That crying sound is you realizing it’ll cost $300 to replace it.
Now imagine that phone screen was your heating system. Heating repairs usually cost about $500, by the way. Replacing your entire heating system? About $6,600 on average.1
Deep breath. You actually can get protection for the things that keep your home running. It’s called a home warranty, which is a standalone contract that covers wear-and-tear repairs for your appliances and home systems over their lifetime.
Home warranties aren’t required by your bank or lender by any means. But if stressing over a stalled garbage disposal is something you could live without, a warranty might be worth looking into.
Our homeowners SecureScores™ are based on the following six factors, which are the ones that matter most to our readers. When vetting our top home warranty providers, however, we gave extra weight to the warranty plans themselves, specifically to the range and thoroughness of their protections and their value for money.
Homeowner’s Tip: Your home warranty may cover your garage door opener, but it might not cover the door itself or the track it runs on. So if you’re shopping for a warranty for your home and you’re sporting a LiftMaster in your car cave, always read the fine print on your contract.
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Progressive is an insurance superstore that collaborates with 13 other top insurers, so finding home warranties on their shelves was no shock. Progressive’s repair service, which they offer through Cinch, covers all major appliances and systems in the house with a $150 deductible, a nice starting price, and some interesting perks.
Progressive’s home warranties are an all-inclusive service they offer through Cinch, a home warranty provider that’s been around for over 40 years. This means that for $27.99 (and all the way up to $84.99), Progressive will handle all your home repairs. The advantage to this arrangement is that you’ll have a “handyman” on call 24/7 for every appliance or system in your home. Unlike Craigslist handymen, all Cinch technicians are prescreened.
Progressive’s warranty covers all major appliances (including microwave ovens, ice makers, and garbage disposals), HVAC systems, plumbing (including vent lines and sump pumps), and your electrical system. Like we said, it’s pretty extensive.
But the biggest perk you’ll get for choosing Progressive is a six-month guarantee on any covered repairs. (You’ll also get filter credits for your AC and fridge, a free water sensor, and significant discounts on new appliances.)
Of course, a Progressive home warranty means you won’t be able to use Ned the Handyman anymore (unless he’s a Cinch affiliate). Then again, how many 180-day guarantees did Ned ever give you on his toilet repairs?
The only other potential issue we’ll flag is Progressive’s $150 deductible. That’s per repair, and it’s more than you may be used to paying for house calls.
If you’re thinking of giving a Progressive home warranty a try, the best place to start is with our Progressive pricing and protections guide.
FYI: Home warranties rarely cover anything considered to be a preexisting condition. So if you inherit a home with a bum stove, you’ll probably have to pay for repairs or replacement out of pocket.
Over a million happy customers in six short years say Lemonade’s approach to home insurance is the way to go: policies starting at $25 per month, instant claims settlements, and great customer support. While Lemonade doesn’t sell traditional home warranties, their equipment breakdown coverage — starting at $2 per month — is worth a look if you want to cut down on appliance repair bills.
The fact is, most top home insurers don’t sell home warranties; after all, they’re in the accidents business, not the home repair business.
Lemonade is no exception, but they have a pretty nifty alternative to the classic, and pricier, home warranty: equipment breakdown coverage, or EBC. There are a few reasons why you might consider this cheaper coverage, whether or not you’re shopping for a warranty for your home.
For starters, you can add EBC to your Lemonade homeowners policy for as little as $2 per month. That’s peanuts (actually a buck cheaper than a 16-oz. bag of goobers at Walmart) compared to the average basic home warranty, which runs about $35 to $40 per month.
Second, Lemonade’s accident insurance throws a wide net. It covers computers, home gyms, sump pumps, AC systems, home security systems, and all your major appliances. (They’ll even cover the climate control on your wine cellar!) Home warranties, on the other hand, tend to be a little more choosy in what they cover.
That said, EBC isn’t a panacea. As Lemonade explicitly states, EBC is only for “direct physical damage,” not wear and tear. So if you spill lemonade on your Peloton and fry your screen ($350 to replace, by the way), you’re covered. If you’ve been riding your Peloton so hard that you wear out your pedals, that’s the kind of damage only a home warranty would cover.
The bottom line? If your home is new or newish, EBC is a great bit of extra protection to have against head-slapping accidents. If your home’s at the age where your stuff is starting to break down naturally, you may be better off with a traditional home warranty.
Did You Know: Lemonade’s EBC doesn’t just protect your fridge; it covers you for up to $10,000 worth of “food spoilage.”
Everyone knows AAA auto insurance. But you can also purchase cheap, flexible home insurance policies from AAA with the option of adding on a home warranty with a lot of protection and a low monthly fee courtesy of Old Republic Home Protection.
AAA’s repair coverage is pretty broad, so you won’t have to worry if your kitchen appliances are covered. They are. So is your HVAC system as well as just about every vent, pipe, and fan in your house. AAA is also upfront about their garage door policy (we touched on this earlier). Garage opener? Check. Door and track? On you.
In terms of their plans, AAA’s model is refreshingly simple. There are no pricing tiers, just a flat rate of $37.99 per month, which is at the low end of the home warranty spectrum. AAA’s $65 service charge is also very low, especially compared to Progressive’s $150 deductible. And customer service is available around the clock.
The only bone we have to pick with AAA’s otherwise pretty stellar home repair service is its 30-day guarantee. Don’t get us wrong: A monthlong warranty on house repairs isn’t a brick to the head, but it isn’t quite the same thing as Progressive’s 180-day guarantee either.
Homeowner's Tip: The average refrigerator lasts 12 years and costs $17 a month to run.2 The math is pretty clear. When you’re thinking of ways to reduce your electric bill, energy efficiency should be at the top of your list.
Homeowners insurance shields your property, possessions, and family from serious accidents, or perils, that your policy covers. Fire, wind, hail, and theft are the big four.
If you’re reading that sentence and thinking, “Hey, isn’t my refrigerator a possession?” Yes, it is. And if a fire guts your home (may it never), your insurance policy should kick in and cover your fridge too.
But if your five-year-old refrigerator needs a repair out of the blue, or if it completely quits on you for unknown reasons, no insurer is going to write you a check. That would be a job for your home warranty.
So a home warranty is essentially an extra maintenance contract that covers your major appliances and home systems when they’re out of commission due to regular wear and tear, not unexpected accidents.
Sound good? Read on for a complete breakdown of what your home warranty will and won’t protect.
Homeowner’s Tip: Home warranties don’t usually cover damage caused by electrical failure or mechanical breakdown. If your fridge starts leaking water, for example, your home warranty would probably kick in. If it short-circuits, on the other hand, that would likely be on you.
Even new homes have issues. It could be the thermostat on your smart heating system, the one that keeps resetting your kitchen radiators to a toasty 60 degrees. It could be the annoying hum your refrigerator started making a week after your standard appliance warranty expired.
Your home warranty covers most of the glitches that interrupt the smooth functioning of your home, including big issues like malfunctioning AC, faulty plumbing, and bad electrical wiring.
Here’s a list of the most common items home warranties cover. Just remember that a home warranty isn’t a magic wand that fixes everything in your house for free. Coverage varies from provider to provider.
Maintenance may also be an issue. If they decide that that weird smell your AC unit is producing is from a filter that hasn’t been changed since 1996, for example, your insurer may very well refuse you coverage, even if you have a home warranty.
Now back to that list…
Any home warranty that’s worth paying for should check those six boxes. If it doesn’t, it may be better to look elsewhere.
FYI: Running ice through your garbage disposal will sharpen the blades, right? Wrong. Garbage disposal blades aren’t supposed to be sharp and you might just end up breaking them.
Your home warranty covers a lot, but it won’t cover things like TVs, speakers, and portable electronics. That would be a job for EBC (see Lemonade above). Home warranties also might not cover septic tanks and hot tubs — a weird grouping, but a fact just the same.
In addition to gaps in your warranty coverage, there are extras fees you may have to pay on top of your annual contract. Your warranty won’t cover service fees for house calls, for instance, and it won’t cover equipment rental for things like cranes, if, say, you’ve got an upper-story AC unit that needs fixing. It also won’t cover permits, inspectors’ fees, or debris removal.
As with everything insurance-related, the details always end up in the fine print, so if you’ve got a tricky AC setup (or a hot tub or septic tank), and that’s why you’re considering a home warranty, book a chat with your agent before you lay down your John Hancock.
Homeowner’s Tip: Surge protectors are great for electronics. However, we don’t recommend you outfit your refrigerator with one. Refrigerators have the inbuilt tech to shut themselves off in the event of a surge. If you connect a surge protector, you could interrupt that process.
Home warranties can run between $35 and $65 or higher per month. That bill doesn’t include service fees for house calls, which can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 per visit — not pocket change by any means.
If you’ve already shopped hard for a money-saving homeowners insurance plan — working in your discounts, securing your bundle — why throw all that savings away on what is essentially extra appliance coverage?
Fair question. As usual, it boils down to numbers. Here’s a scenario where a home warranty might make sense.
Your eight-year-old water boiler is overheating and you need some help. On average, busted water heaters cost a hair more than $500 to repair. Add in a $75 service fee, and you’re looking at a $575 bill. Your premium, $65-per-month home warranty would be well on the way to paying itself off with that one house call.
When you consider that average yearly home maintenance costs nearly reached the $5,000 mark in 2021, your $780 warranty bill will look a lot more reasonable.
FYI: In 2021, the average home cost $4,886 to maintain, according to Thumbtack’s Home Care Price Index. That’s a $450 increase from 2020.3
If you’re buying a home with an aging but fully operational HVAC system or appliances that still have a few years left in them, a home warranty might make sense until you’re ready to replace them. Just make sure you ask the previous owner for documentation: warranties, maintenance records, etc.
Brand-new houses don’t necessarily need warranties, because the electrical wiring, plumbing, and heating should be covered by your building contract. New appliances likewise have warranties of their own for regular wear and tear.
Did You Know: Moving into a new house? Your home warranty could take up to a month to kick in. So take good care of your appliances in the meanwhile.
Owning a home is great. Maintaining it? Not so great.
There’s plenty that’s just grunt work: clearing the gutters, varnishing the deck, guarding against mold. But some of the maintenance is out of our hands, like appliances we paid good money for conking out, either due to an accident or plain old age.
That’s when a home warranty, or extra EBC, can come in handy. Though the pricing may seem steep at first glance, if you sit down and actually tally up how much you spent last year on home repairs (something we rarely do), you might have a change of heart.
If you’ve made it this far, remember to stop back again soon. We’re always refreshing and expanding our articles to bring you the latest word on home insurance.
Is equipment breakdown coverage (EBC) the same as a home warranty?
Not quite. Home warranties cover your home systems and appliances for normal wear and tear. EBC is for accidents.
How long does my home warranty last?
Home warranties are usually yearly contracts.
Are my appliances covered by my homeowners insurance?
In the event of a covered accident, yes. Otherwise, repairs and replacement are on you.
What does my home warranty not cover?
It depends from insurer to insurer. But generally speaking, your warranty won’t cover damage you cause by accident or through poor maintenance. It also won’t cover cosmetic damage (a ding or dent in your clothes dryer) or any preexisting conditions you inherit (although some might cover these).
Can I use my handyman when I have a home warranty?
It’s possible. But most home warranty providers have their own lists of preapproved contractors. Usually, you’ll have to use one of them.
Home Warranty of America. (2022). Take the Worry Out of Home Ownership With a Home Warranty. https://www.hwahomewarranty.com/.
EnergySage. (2022). How many watts does a refrigerator use?. https://news.energysage.com/how-many-watts-does-a-refrigerator-use/.
Thumbtack. (2021). As costs rise, this is how much homeowners should budget to keep homes running smoothly. https://blog.thumbtack.com/as-costs-rise-this-is-how-much-homeowners-should-budget-to-keep-homes-running-smoothly-ae48405c8bc8.