When something goes wrong in your home, depending on the protection you have, you’ll file a claim with either your home insurance or your home warranty, depending on the issue and who covers it. The steps for what happens after you report the claim is called the claim procedure, which outlines what needs to occur for the appropriate agency to file, assess, and resolve the claim.
In order for your insurance or home warranty to cover the loss or damage you’ve incurred, you’ll need to handle claims processing correctly. But what is claims processing, and what does that entail exactly? For insurance claims, you’ll want to file a police report if your claim involves a car accident or theft. You can do this by calling the police station, not by calling the 911 emergency line.
If you don’t need to file a police report, your first step is to document the damage to your home with photos and videos. Do this before cleaning up the mess or moving whatever was damaged. Next, you’ll call your insurance company, and an insurance adjuster will inspect the damage for themselves. If you’re appropriately covered by insurance, they’ll offer a settlement offer, and once you pay your deductible, you’ll be paid out.
Insurance claim processing is one thing, but what about claims on your home warranty? A home warranty also has a claim procedure that you must follow, involving similar steps. These claim procedures are designed to protect the home warranty company from fraud and ensure they’re not wasting money on people trying to game the system. This lowers the home warranty company’s costs, which translates to lower premiums for everyone involved. If you need to start a claim procedure on your home warranty, read on for a quick lesson on everything you need to know.
The Claims Procedure in Home Warranty Policies
Your home warranty covers your home’s major systems and appliances. These warranties are designed to provide coverage where home insurance does not. For example, if a pipe bursts in your home, your insurance will cover the damage caused by the flooding water (provided you go through successful insurance claim processing). That same insurance would not cover the cost of fixing the plumbing inside the home – that’s where your home warranty comes in handy.
Your home warranty has amazing coverage for your home. Your home’s major systems, such as your HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems, all fall under your home warranty. The same is true for all your major home appliances – such as your washer and dryer, dishwasher, oven, and your fridge.
What is and isn’t Covered
It’s important to know what is covered with your home, and it’s important to understand what isn’t covered. As mentioned above, home warranties don’t cover water damage – but they do cover the leak in the pipes. Most home warranties don’t cover the roof of your home, though some offer roof repair in the event of a leak. In both these instances, you’d need to make an insurance claim for the water damage the leak caused.
Other exclusions include anything structural in your home, such as windows, doors, and the foundation. Home warranties do not cover anything improperly installed, broken down due to neglect, or any pre-existing conditions before you purchased the warranty.
Filing a Claim
If something in your home breaks down – and if it’s covered – then you can start a claim procedure by filing a claim. As soon as an appliance or system breaks down, you’ll call your home warranty company (their number will be online or in the service contract). The company might even have an online portal where you simply fill out a form. Once you’ve done this, the claim procedure has begun.
Some warranty companies will make a preliminary diagnosis over the phone. They will walk you through the basic troubleshooting and rule out any simple fix. If troubleshooting solves the problem, you’ve saved time and money. If the appliance is still broken, the company will determine if it needs to be repaired or replaced. Many companies will opt to replace components of a machine rather than replace it outright, but if those components’ costs outweigh the cost of a complete replacement, they’ll opt for that instead.
Pay Your Service Fee
A technician will be sent out for repair, and you’ll be expected to pay the basic service fee upon their arrival. They’ll do the repairs covered in your warranty, and here the details of your contract matter. Many warranties may cover ovens, but not the stove clock or the oven’s glass door. They will cover the fridge but may exclude the water dispenser. You would need to pay out of pocket to repair that feature of your machine. Whatever is covered, the technician will repair it and the warranty will cover the costs beyond the initial service fee – including the technician’s time and the parts needed.
Tips for a Smooth Claims Procedure Experience
You have a home warranty so that when something breaks down it’s easier to get fixed. Your home warranty company will ask questions to fully understand the situation and go through their claims processing step by step. There are things you can do for yourself to make this claims procedure as smooth and seamless as possible.
Understand Your Contract
The biggest thing that will make the process as easy on everyone as possible is if you read and understand the contract between you and your home warranty company. This contract covers which appliances and home systems are covered, but it goes deeper. It explains what specific aspects of an appliance or system are not covered (such as an oven glass door) and sets caps for how much the warranty will allocate towards repairs or replacements. This can also be called a coverage limit. If your repair or replacement cost exceeds the coverage limit cost, you will be expected to cover the difference.
The home warranty contract will also go over the maintenance that needs to be done on all these machines to keep them running effectively. You’ve agreed that your appliances were in good working condition before they broke down. If the home warranty company believes you’ve been constantly repairing the machine to extend its lifespan, they may deny the claim. Your contract also outlines your service fee for your technician upon his arrival.
Because of all these little details, it’s important to pick a home warranty company that will live up to its promises. Their coverage and conditions should be fair, easy to understand, and should make logical sense. Before you opt for a home warranty, you’ll want to scrutinize the contract. If you already have a home warranty and you think their contract is unfair, you can also request quotes and contracts from other companies to compare with.
When you need to file a claim, your home warranty is there to help you. They have a procedure to follow, and you may be stressed. Remember that everyone wants conflict resolved easily, and most claims are resolved without issue. You can help your service agent by being very specific when describing your issue and being ready to answer questions about the system or appliance. These questions can include its age, brand, and condition.
When things go wrong, your home warranty is there to help you out. Discussing the details of a long contract, a potentially frustrating or time-consuming claims procedure, or what could go wrong is never fun. The reason these procedures exist is to ensure your home warranty service is effectively managing its costs and preventing fraudulent claims. If a company does both of these well while still servicing their customers as promised, they’ll be able to keep costs lower for everyone.
In the end, a great home warranty company has you covered where your home insurance policy does not. If a system or appliance breaks down, your home warranty will have it repaired or replaced for you. If you’re looking for a great home warranty, be sure to read over what your contract covers and, more importantly, what it does not. A thorough understanding of the scope and breadth of your coverage will help you decide which home warranty company to choose.
If you do need to make a claim, you’ll know the process before you start. You can explain to your service agent what happened and be ready to pay your service fee to the technician. Soon enough, your appliance will be repaired and working as intended again. You can rest easier knowing that your home warranty has you covered.