Choice Home Warranty can save you thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements when covered household systems and appliances break down from normal wear and tear. But a home warranty is only as good as the company who provides it and the contract you sign. That’s why it’s important to compare the plans and contracts from multiple companies before purchasing a home warranty. Choice Home Warranty provides a sample contract online, but you’ll have to call or fill out a questionnaire to get an accurate pricing quote.
Choice Home Warranty offers two plans for home warranties, the Basic Plan and the Total Plan. Unfortunately, four major systems and appliances are only covered under the more expensive Total Plan: air conditioning, refrigerator, clothes washer, and clothes dryer. There’s no way to customize your plan beyond a few add-on specialty options. Choice Home Warranty’s $85 service call fee is among the lowest in the industry, so you don’t have to worry about a high upfront cost every time you need a repair, and you won’t need a home inspection prior to finalizing your contract.
|Price||Basic Plan:$41.25/month, price can vary
Total Plan: $50.00/month, price can vary
|Best For||People interested in low out-of-pocket cost for repairs|
|Not For||People who prefer to choose their own service technicians and appliances|
|Covered Systems||Air conditioning (only with Total Plan)
|Covered Appliances||Whirlpool bathtubs
Clothes washers (only with Total Plan)
Clothes dryers (only with Total Plan)
Garage door openers
Ceiling and exhaust fans
Limited roof leaks
Septic tank plumbing
|Service Call Fee||$85|
|Contract Length||1 year|
|In Business Since||2008|
|Better Business Bureau Rating||B-|
|Standout Features||No home inspection required
24/7 service requests
30-day service guarantee
Roof leak coverage
First month free
Choice Home Warranty claims to provide comprehensive, “hassle-free coverage” for the major systems and appliances in your home. Its home warranties promise to keep you from being caught off guard by an unexpected breakdown. You can call them at any time, day or night, and they’ll send a technician out within two days (or four days on weekends or holidays) to assess the issue and either repair or replace the broken item if it’s covered by your plan.
Is it True?
Mostly. The key to home warranty satisfaction is to look past the marketing copy and read the sample contract. Most unhappy customers simply didn’t understand exactly what their home warranty covered before submitting a claim. But with Choice Home Warranty specifically, it’s worth noting that the company was fined $780,000 by the state of New Jersey in 2015 for using “deceptive tactics to deny consumers’ claims, such as denying claims if the consumers were unable to submit multiple years’ worth of maintenance records.” Since then, Choice has clearly changed its contracts (and marketing language) to more closely align with its competitors and accurately portray what’s covered and when.
A few things are worth noting in Choice Home Warranty’s sample contract. While Choice says you can contact them 24/7, that doesn’t mean you should expect same-day service. “Upon request for service, We will contact an authorized Service Provider within two (2) days during normal business hours and four (4) days on weekends and holidays,” the contract reads. Further, “If you should request us to perform non-emergency service outside of normal business hours, you will be responsible for payment of additional fees and/or overtime charges.”
Also, while this isn’t unusual for a home warranty company, you should know Choice claims “the sole right to determine whether a covered system or appliance will be repaired or replaced. We are responsible for installing replacement equipment of similar features, capacity, and efficiency, but not for matching dimensions, brand or color.”
Finally, the most contentious part of Choice’s plans is that they “reserve the right to offer cash back in lieu of repair or replacement in the amount of Our actual cost (which at times may be less than retail) to repair or replace any covered system, component or appliance.” That’s quite a qualifying statement, since it means Choice could offer you $100 in cash instead of covering a $500 repair. We absolutely recommend asking Choice about their cash-back policy before purchasing a home warranty, including getting a copy of that policy in writing.
Our Deep Dive
- Small plan selection:Choice Home Warranty only sells two plans. While both of which cover your major appliances and systems, including heating, electrical, and plumbing, the differences between the Total and the Basic plan essentially force you into the higher-cost option. The Total plan includes your air conditioning, refrigerator, washer and dryer, while the Basic plan doesn’t, and you cannot add or remove items. Most homeowners are going to want those big-ticket items covered.
- Limited roof leak coverage: This is an add-on coverage option you can add to either plan. It’ll cost you extra, but it may be worth it if your roof is older and you don’t yet have the money to replace it. This type of protection is rare among home warranty providers, making this option a big selling point.
- Instant online quotes: Enter in your address, choose your plan, and any optional add-ons, and you’re immediately given a quote. You can choose between monthly and annual payments and pay online. If you can afford the annual payment, that’s the way to go. It’ll earn you a discount of $30 per year. You can purchase your policy right online.
- No home inspection required: Unlike some other home warranty companies, Choice Home Warranty doesn’t require new customers to submit to a home inspection prior to receiving coverage.
- 30-day waiting period: Choice Home Warranty has an industry-standard 30-day waiting period before your contract goes into effect. However, if you currently have a home warranty through a different company, Choice Home Warranty will drop the waiting period, and your contract will begin immediately.
- 24/7 service requests: You can submit a service request at any time, either by phone or online. It’s important to note, though, that doesn’t mean you can expect a technician at your home within a few hours. Per its Terms of Service, Choice Home Warranty has up to two days after receiving a service request from you to notify a technician.
- Low service call fee: Compared to other home warranty providers who may charge you up to $125 per service visit, Choice Home Warranty’s $85 service call fee is pretty affordable. This is the only cost you’ll pay when a service technician comes to your home for a repair.
- Service guarantee: If repair work done under your home warranty fails, Choice Home Warranty will send a new technician to your home and won’t charge you a service call fee for a period of 90 days on parts, and 30 days on labor.
To get an exact quote, you’ll need to contact Choice Home Warranty by phone or use its online quote tool. We tested quotes in several major cities and found the rates were consistent across all of them — the Basic plan cost $41.25 per month, and the Total plan cost $50 per month. The payment plan you select will save you money, and they do occasionally offer specials.
Adding optional coverage to your plan will cause your rates to rise. And if your home is over 5,000 square feet, you’ll have to pay a $250 surcharge.
You should also note that Choice Home Warranty reserves the right at any time to give you cash instead of repairing or replacing your broken item. By the company’s own admission, that cash may not always be enough to cover the full cost of a repair visit or a new appliance, so there may still be times where you end up paying out of pocket.
And then there are the non-monetary costs to consider. Choice Home Warranty doesn’t let you choose replacement appliances. However, this is an industry standard and something you will have to accept if you want the other benefits of a home warranty.
Cheaper (or Free!) Alternatives
It’s a good idea to get quotes from multiple home warranty companies before deciding which to purchase. Every company has its own set of standard features and different rates based on where you live and the type of coverage. Some companies also let you select between different service call fees. Choosing a higher amount could result in a lower premium. Look at all your options and decide which home warranty provider offers you the best coverage at the best rate.
If a home warranty doesn’t seem like a worthwhile investment and wasn’t provided by the home’s seller, budget to set aside money for unexpected repairs instead. Open a savings account for unexpected home repairs and put a little money away each month. If you can spare $100 per month, you’ll have $1,200 by the end of the year to put toward future repairs. That should be enough to cover most home repairs.
Take some time to do the math and figure out whether a home warranty is a smart purchase for you. If you’re a home seller, talk to your realtor to find out if buyers in your neighborhood truly expect that you offer a warranty. If you don’t think you can afford to maintain an emergency fund, a warranty might make sense. But if you’re a disciplined saver, it might be better to forego the warranty. That way, you retain full control over what service technicians you use and what new appliances are installed in your home.
The unhappiness that some purchasers of home warranties express comes from misunderstandings about what is and isn’t covered. Of course, part of that has to do with companies not always living up to their word. If you’re interested in checking out some other options, consider these companies:
- American Home Shield: American Home Shield allows you to create custom home warranty plans, so you’re not paying to protect systems and appliances you don’t have. You also get a choice between a $75, $100, or $125 service call fee. AHS’s plans cover all the same items as Choice Home Warranty, plus instant hot/cold water dispensers, trash compactors, smoke detectors, and more. Among home warranty providers, AHS also stands out as offering the best customer service.
- The Home Service Club: Like American Home Shield, The Home Service Club gives you three choices for your service call fee, enabling you to lower your premium by opting for a higher out-of-pocket cost when you request service. The Home Service Club’s Standard plan protects all your major appliances and systems, while the Comprehensive plan adds in extra coverages, like pest control and gas leaks, that aren’t found with most home warranty providers. Its rates are pretty affordable, so this is a good company to consider if you’re on a budget.
- America’s 1st Choice Home Club: America’s 1st Choice Home Club offers three plans designed to suit all budgets. The Bronze plan covers only your heating, air conditioning, and water heater, while the Silver and Gold plans are more comprehensive, including your electrical and plumbing systems, as well as all major appliances. You must contact America’s 1st Choice by phone to get a quote.
- First American Home Buyers Protection: First American’s Basic plan covers major appliances, but if you’re looking to cover the systems of your home as well, you’ll have to step up to the Premier plan. Unlike most home warranty companies, First American lists air conditioning as an optional add-on, so you’ll have to pay extra for that. You can purchase your policy in a few minutes right from the company’s website.
What Others Are Saying
- NBC 5 in Chicago picked up a story about a woman who purchased a Choice Home Warranty policy and was then denied assistance when her furnace broke down. She says the company used a loophole in the contract to deny the claim and expresses her displeasure with the warranty: “It gives you a false sense of security that you are covered if something happens.” Choice Home Warranty later agreed to pay the woman, provided she promised to stop speaking to the media.
- Action 9 News investigated a similar claim in Florida. Choice Home Warranty denied the claim, stating it was outside the scope of the warranty. Yet when the woman paid a repairman to come fix the problem, he confirmed the repair should have been covered under the warranty. The customer was disappointed with the service she received: “What’s the good of having a warranty if they’re not going to cover it?”
- Click 2 Houston notes that Choice Home Warranty has the highest number of Better Business Bureau complaints of all home warranty companies in the Houston area. It also points to repeated attempts by the company to deny claims on the grounds that systems and appliances weren’t maintained properly. It warns about the dangers of purchasing a home warranty without reading the fine print: “Consumers thinking of using a home warranty company should make sure to read the exclusion clauses in the plan to look for vague language. Also, plans may have a section that caps the total amount the company will cover in repairs at a certain dollar amount.”
- FOX 4 in Kansas City, Mo., shines a light on another case where a man’s claim was denied due to supposedly improper maintenance. He sent maintenance records to Choice Home Warranty, but they still refused to pay. The article also discusses the difficulty he had when speaking to a Choice Home Warranty representative over the phone: “All I got was another claims representative who told me everyone there is a manager…Go figure.”
The Bottom Line
Choice Home Warranty’s policies appeal to those who want a quick application process without needing to go through a home inspection. It’s clear pricing, which doesn’t require that you speak to a representative, is also a plus. However, its coverage isn’t very flexible. If you choose to purchase a Choice home warranty, do your research and make sure you know exactly what you’re buying.