Best Home Warranty Companies in California [The Sacramento Bee]

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As a homeowner, you might already know just how expensive an appliance or system breakdown due to normal wear and tear can be. For example, plumbing systems that break down might require a professional fix costing $350 or more.

A home warranty is a special protection plan that provides access to more affordable repairs for your major systems and appliances. These plans protect homeowners from high repair costs, which can quickly eat into the most well-planned emergency fund.

With so many options on the market, telling the difference between California’s best-rated home warranty companies can be challenging. If you’re a homeowner in the Golden State looking to save money on home warranty coverage, read on to learn everything you need to know about the best home warranty companies in California.

Our Top Picks for the Best Home Warranty Companies in California

Best overall pick: Choice Home Warranty

Best customer service: American Home Shield

Best add-on coverage options: First American Home Warranty

Best for fast coverage: Liberty Home Guard

Best for budgets: Select Home Warranty

Best comprehensive coverage: Home Service Club

Best Home Warranty Companies in California Reviews

ProsAffordable monthly pricingTwo straightforward policiesNine unique add-on choicesConsDoes not allow you to choose your own service fee

If you’re new to home warranties and are looking for straightforward coverage, Choice Home Warranty can be one of your best options in Southern California and beyond. Choice Home Warranty offers two easy-to-understand plan options: the affordable Basic Plan and the all-inclusive Total Plan. These straightforward options can be ideal for homeowners who need quick, general coverage at affordable prices.

The differences between Choice’s two plans come down to the items included under each home warranty’s terms. For example, the Total Plan includes coverage for damage to your air conditioning system, while the Basic Plan does not. Both of Choice’s home warranty plans include coverage for a mix of systems and appliances. Coverage starts at around $46 per month for the Basic Plan and $55 per month for the Total Plan in most states.

Choice Home Warranty allows you to customize your home warranty policy with optional add-ons. For example, you can add coverage for a pool or central vacuum. These optional coverages add just a few dollars to your monthly bill but extend your benefits to more items. This system also allows you to avoid paying for coverage on items you don’t have in your home.

ProsHigh coverage caps allow you to claim more valuable repairs and replacementsHighly rated customer service team provides 24/7 helpAir filter discounts are availableConsMonthly charges can be high if you choose a low service fee

This tier system helps you balance per-incident payments with monthly costs for perfectly customized coverage. AHS can be a great choice for homeowners who value the ability to adjust their costs and coverage to a changing life.

AHS wins the award for best customer service thanks to its 24/7 Shield Agent connection. While most home warranty companies allow you to file a claim anytime, American Home Shield offers around-the-clock protection and assistance with the company’s care and account specialty teams. This extra safety net can make American Home Shield a very attractive option, especially if you’ve never bought a policy before and need guidance when choosing a policy or filing a claim.

In addition to providing around-the-clock customer service, American Home Shield is one of the only home warranty service providers we reviewed to offer all services in Spanish and English. Their team even has a dedicated phone line specifically for their Spanish-speaking customers. Considering that almost 40% of the Golden State’s residents are Hispanic, it’s easy to see why American Home Shield is a top choice.

ProsPricing from $27.99 a monthCoverage extends to appliance components like handles (which are excluded from most types of home warranty policies)Long workmanship guaranteeConsLimited add-onsHigh service fees

In addition to an impressive workmanship guarantee, Cinch also offers an impressive customer service team. The company has won a collective 41 rewards for its responsiveness and plan availability. Cinch prides itself on responding to claims as quickly as possible. Cinch is also committed to serving the nation’s veterans as the official home warranty provider for Home for Troops.

ProsUnique upgrade optionsPlans are available from $50 per month in most areasEasy online applicationConsExtra charge for air conditioning coverage

First American Home Warranty is best known for its special upgrade options, which go above and beyond what you’ll find with most competitors. For example, the company’s First Class Upgrade can be added to any plan and includes coverage for services required to bring your home up to code following a change in local building rules and refrigerant recapture regulations. While air conditioning coverage is an add-on (instead of being included in the Premier plan, like most home warranty companies), First American can still be an affordable choice for homeowners looking for extra protections on a unique home.

The First Class Upgrade includes limited coverage for appliances and systems installed incorrectly and for contractor mistakes. This can be particularly beneficial if you’re buying an older home that needs significant future repairs or if you’ve purchased a recent construction. First American’s service fee is currently $85, around the same as what’s charged by other companies.

ProsAdd-on coverages available for re-keying and carpet cleaningSelect plans allow customers to choose their own contractorPlenty of upgrade optionsConsMonthly plan premiums are more expensive than competitors

Liberty Home Guard might be a provider worth considering if you’re looking to get home warranty coverage fast. The company offers a simple, streamlined application and purchase process that you can complete online. Most homeowners who own single-family units can compare plans, read a sample contract, and get covered in as little as five minutes.

In addition to quick coverage, Liberty Home Guard’s plans also have an impressive selection of add-on choices. You can add coverage for a water pump, sump pump or even a saltwater pool for just a few extra dollars a month. This makes Liberty a strong choice for homeowners living in houses they’ve customized with unusual features.

ProsAffordable monthly plans and service feesFree roof leak coverage included in some policiesAnnual discount can save youConsLower-than-average coverage limits on most items

If you’re a homeowner looking for coverage on a budget, consider Select Home Warranty. Select Home Warranty’s policies offer affordable monthly rates, and you could pay less than $40 per month depending on your billing cycle. While most other home warranty companies charge higher service fees to offset lower monthly charges, Select’s fee ranges from $60 to $75 depending on coverage. These are some of the lowest fees in the home warranty industry, making Select a strong choice if you’re looking for inexpensive protection.

Select’s policies offer lower coverage limits compared to other higher-priced policies, meaning that homeowers with high-end appliances may not receive the money necessary to repair or replace them. However, Select also offers regular promotions that help you save even more on coverage. Depending on your area, some plans may even include a month of free coverage or roof leak protection.

ProsCovers up to 50 home components depending on your planQuick and easy quote application90-day parts guarantee on repairsCons$125 service fee

Home Service Club is a home warranty company offering some of California’s most inclusive home warranties. The company’s Comprehensive Coverage plan lives up to its name with 32 unique inclusions. Some examples include coverage for gas leaks, hot water dispensers and even smoke detectors. Many of these inclusions are considered add-on protections with other home warranty providers. Buying them in one comprehensive policy can be beneficial if you purchase many of these coverages anyway.

Other companies we considered

While the home warranty companies listed above are the recommended options, they aren’t the only home warranty companies operating in California. Be sure to consider the following runners-up when choosing your policy.

Home Warranty of America

ProsNo age limits on appliances under coverage24/7 customer servicePlans available from $45 per month in CaliforniaCons$100 service fee is higher than competitors

Home Warranty of America includes unique protections for anyone who has upgraded their home with smart features and appliances. For example, their Select plan covers damage to fire and burglar alarms. Many of Home Warranty of America’s plans also impose no individual coverage limits on appliances, which can be beneficial if you have high-value appliances from brands like Samsung and Jenn-Air.

First Premier Home Warranty

ProsSelect plans include free roof coverageRequest service online or by phoneOffers a blog with helpful tipsConsLimited additional plan info available online

First Premier Home Warranty is another straightforward home warranty company that offers two policy options. First Premier also offers a selection of add-on choices, including coverage for sprinkler systems and additional home systems and appliances.

AFC Home Club

ProsParts and labor guaranteesOffers coverage for identity theftThree unique plansCons$75 cancellation fee

AFC Home Club provides part and labor guarantees on all services provided so long as you are an AFC Home Club member. This can be reassuring if you’ve had experience with subpar contractors.

Best Home Warranty Guide

As a homeowner enjoying life in the Golden State, you have plenty of options for choosing a home warranty service provider. But if this is your first time shopping for a home warranty, where should you start looking for coverage? Read on to learn more about the process.

What is a home warranty?

A home warranty is a type of service plan that protects the systems and appliances in your home. When comparing home warranties and home insurance, remember that you will likely need both coverages if you want full-home protection. These home protection services were designed to cover different types of emergencies and do not work in the same situations.

Let’s take a look at an example of why you might need a standard homeowner’s insurance policy and home warranty insurance in California. Imagine that you own a home with an older plumbing system that breaks down regularly. In the event of a fire that destroys your plumbing system, your home insurance would cover the cost of damage. This is because fire is a “covered peril” included under most homeowners’ insurance policies.

But covered perils do not extend to normal wear and tear. If your old plumbing system breaks down simply due to age, your homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover the cost of replacing it. This means you could be left with a bill totaling thousands of dollars to pay without help if you don’t have a home warranty.

If you’d have problems covering this type of repair or replacement bill, you might want to begin comparing the best home warranty companies in California. The service contract included with home warranty plans lay out the circumstances under which you can claim benefits under your home warranty coverage.

In addition to replacing systems that break down permanently, home warranty plans also compensate homeowners for routine fixes. Continuing with the example above, your home warranty would help pay for plumbing stoppages so long as they were not caused by a singular, major event (like a hurricane or fire).

How does a home warranty work?

Home warranty policies reimburse you if one of your home systems or appliances breaks down. Normal household breakdowns occur every day and can cost hundreds of dollars. When you have a home warranty policy, these costs don’t fall squarely on your shoulders.

You’ll first file a claim with your home warranty company when you need to use your home warranty coverage. Most companies allow you to file a claim both online and over the phone at any hour. Your home warranty company will compare the details of your claim with your policy to verify that you qualify for a fix.

If you’re covered under your policy, the home warranty company will arrange a repair on your behalf. Some home warranty companies might also allow you to book your own contractor. When your repair professionals arrive, they’ll diagnose and fix the malfunctioning system or appliance.

After repairs are complete, you’ll be responsible for paying your service call fee. The service fee is a per-occurrence charge due each time that you book a repair and does not change based on the value of the service provided. This puts an effective cap on what a homeowner will spend on most home system and appliance repairs.

Even the best home warranty in California will not cover everything. Most home warranty policies include upper coverage limits that dictate how much money your home warranty provider will pay out in case of a covered claim. For example, if your home warranty policy includes a coverage limit of $2,000 annually, it means that your home warranty company will cover no more than $2,000 of the total cost for the diagnosis, repair, and replacement of covered items.

The best home warranty companies in northern California and beyond make these coverage limits clear when you sign up for insurance. Individual add-ons (like sump pumps or water heaters) may have their own individual limits lower than the overall coverage cap. Do not sign onto a policy before you know what is and isn’t covered and for how much.

How to pick a home warranty

What is the best home warranty company in California? The answer will vary depending on your budget and what you need as a homeowner. Here’s how to pick a home warranty and some things to consider when comparing options.

Check the company’s reputation

The first thing you should do before you buy a home warranty policy is learn more about the company issuing it. Review each company’s website and look for local contact information. Be sure to speak to each company over the phone before you buy a policy to test their customer service.

You should also research each company extensively and check third-party reviews. Take reviews with a grain of salt, but note specific complaints that seem consistent across different consumer review platforms. Be wary of any company that has overwhelmingly positive reviews as well—some home warranty companies have been known to buy fraudulent reviews to boost their ratings.

Decide your coverage needs

The most important thing to consider when choosing a home warranty is coverage. Each home warranty plan includes a list of things in your home that your coverage applies to. Common inclusions on most home warranties include air conditioning systems, refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers.

You can customize your home warranty policy by looking for one that includes only items you have in your home. For example, if you don’t have a well pump and your home didn’t come with a washer-dryer set, you can save money by specifically looking for a policy that doesn’t include these items. Customizing your policy and shopping around saves you from spending money on coverage you cannot use.

Read a sample contract

Most home warranty companies provide sample contracts online for you to review before signing up. Reading a sample contract is an essential part of the home warranty buying process because the contract dictates when you can use the benefits you’re paying for.

Ask every home warranty company you might consider for a sample contract if you cannot find one online. The best home warranties are readily available and use simple, straightforward wording to ensure every customer understands what they’re signing. You should not buy a home warranty from any company that refuses to give you a sample contract before you buy coverage.

Get a quote

The final step when choosing a home warranty policy is getting a quote. Remember that every company that provides home warranty policies uses its own system to determine how much homeowners pay for coverage. Get multiple quotes and read the terms of the service contract before selecting a policy. Getting more than one quote before you buy can help you save money each month on your premium and on your service fees.

Best California Home Warranty FAQ

Is a home warranty required in California?

No, there is currently no law requiring California homeowners to buy a home warranty for their appliances. This is true when both buying and selling residential and commercial properties. If a homeowner offers a home warranty with a sale, they voluntarily do so to attract more buyers.

Who pays for a home warranty in California?

Home warranties are not required for homeownership in the same way you need to buy homeowner’s insurance to get a mortgage. This means that either a seller or a home buyer might want to invest in a home warranty. A seller might want to purchase a home warranty to attract new potential customers to their home in the hopes of getting a higher final offer on their home, while a buyer might want the financial protection of a warranty after covering closing costs.

While anyone can buy a home warranty, this also means that if you buy a home, there is no guarantee that your upcoming home sale will come with a home warranty. If you want a home warranty included as a term of the sale of your new property, make sure it’s included in your sale agreement.

How much is home warranty insurance in California?

According to our research, a home warranty plan in California usually costs between $45 and $90 a month. Remember that plans also include a service fee, which you’ll pay every time you use your plan’s coverage. Most home warranty companies have service fees that range between $75 and $125 per visit, but you may pay as much as $150 per visit with some companies.

One important note: “Home warranties” are not insurance policies, nor are they warranties. They are actually service contracts and, as such, may be regulated by different state agencies than those that regulate the insurance industry. Further, though some people use the terms “home warranty” and “home insurance” interchangeably, they are different and do not provide similar protections.

How We Chose the Best Home Warranties in California

With so many companies offering home warranties, you have a wealth of options as a homeowner in California. Here are the major factors we considered when choosing the best home warranty companies and how each factor affected our ratings.

Policy coverage

What does a home warranty cover? The answer will vary depending on the specific terms of your home warranty contract. We reviewed a sample policy from each recommended provider above when comparing home warranty companies. We looked at the number of items included in the policy’s coverage compared to the overall price to determine which providers offer the best value for your premium costs.

We also considered upper limits on how much money you can claim from policy providers each year. Upper limits put a cap on the total amount of money you can claim from your policy provider, which directly affects the value of your plan.

Overall price and additional costs

When comparing policies, it’s important to look at more than just the price of your monthly premium. While the premium is due each month, your service fee is due every time you need something fixed or replaced in your home. The service fee is also an important consideration when looking at overall cost.

As we compared pricing and the value of each policy, we looked at both premiums and service fees. We also read through sample contracts to help you learn more about coverage limits and how much value you can get from each policy when you consider the fine print.

Company dependability and reputation

Unfortunately, not every company that offers home warranty plans is equally reliable. We reviewed independent customer testimonials on third-party sites such as Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau. Companies with consistent compliments and reviews from previous policyholders ranked higher than those with many complaints.

Services offered and availability

Another major consideration we took into account is availability. When looking at the best home warranty companies in California reviews, we looked for companies that cover the entire Golden State – or at least most of it. Remember that not every company that offers home warranties in California extends service to each country.

We also considered add-ons and service availability when comparing home warranties. To choose the best home warranty in California, we searched for companies offering a wide range of add-ons for things like spas, extra water heaters, in-law suites, and additional inclusions like a central vacuum. To customize your coverage, you may want to create a list of major home components that make up your property before you shop.

Summary of Money’s Best Home Warranties in California of 2022

Some of the best home warranty companies in California are Cinch Home Warranty, Choice Home Warranty, and American Home Shield. We recommend Choice Home Warranty as our top coverage provider.

A home warranty is a policy that helps you cover the cost of repairs for your home systems. It is not a substitute for homeowner’s insurance.

When considering a home warranty, consider the cost of both your premium and service fee when deciding whether it’s worth the price.

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