(ANGIE'S LIST) - Home warranties can provide you with peace of mind, but they can also be a headache if you don't do your homework.
For ten years in a row, home warranty companies have been the worst-graded category on Angie's List. A home warranty typically covers the major systems and appliances in a home for one year after the sale. It's often included with the purchase of a home, but many homeowners don't fully examine the documents at closing - filing them away until they need repair help.
Angie Hicks from Angie's List says, "They are surprised when they have a problem and try to use their home warranty to find out that it doesn't work as they expected it or the item they have a problem with isn't covered. Also we see concerns over the quality of the technicians being sent out to do the repairs and also the fact that the consumer is giving up their decision as to whether they should repair or replace the item."
Lindsay Ohmer received a home warranty when she bought her house and she says it came in handy when the heat went out over the winter.
"We just hopped on the website and filed a claim really fast and within a few hours we had somebody out here taking care of it for us."
Angie's List says the key to a good experience is to understand what is and isn't covered.
"Be sure you take the time to read through the contract so you understand exactly how it works because there is nothing more frustrating than something breaks and then you have to go read the document. You want to be prepared ahead of time," says Hicks.
Angie's List says expect to pay between $250 and $450 per year for a home warranty. The fee per incident ranges from $50 to $75. They also recommend knowing the age of your appliances to determine whether a home warranty is a good deal. You may find you have new appliances that are already covered under the manufacturer's warranty.