Choice Home Warranty Review
Choice Home Warranty promises to provide swift and direct help should your home’s systems or appliances break, but dissatisfied customers and a reputation for deceptive advertising make those claims seriously suspect. Its service fee is among the lowest out there — but be prepared to cross your fingers that the company doesn’t use a loophole to wiggle out of coverage. Consumers may want to consider another provider, or avoid home warranties altogether.
Choice Home Warranty sounds great on paper: It offers clear coverage for your major systems and appliances through two plans built on straightforward pricing. It doesn’t even require a home inspection. Its ultra-low $60 service call fee seems like tantalizing insurance against sky-high upfront costs when repairs rear their ugly heads, and it promises 24/7 access to repair technicians. Choice Home Warranty’s major stated drawback: You can tack on additions, but you can’t customize plans to allow for your individual needs.
Sounds good, right? Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll learn the company’s flawed reputation overwhelms its claims. Numerous customers complain that Choice Home Warranty egregiously uses loopholes to avoid paying for repairs. Their marketing strategy is proven shady: New Jersey fined the company for engaging in deceptive advertising practices. Those not willing to risk a similar headache may want to consider American Home Shield or avoiding home warranties altogether.
Dissatisfied customers, deceptive advertising, and a reputation for skipping out on repairs cast doubt on Choice Home Warranty's ability to live up to its promises.
But Choice Home Warranty isn’t exactly an outlier in the industry, and consumers aren’t blameless. Home warranty companies are plagued by negative reviews and poor ratings for customer satisfaction partially because most consumers don’t pay attention to contract terms and coverage before buying. Exceptions and exclusions in the Terms of Service limit the extent of the warranty and remove choices for the consumer. For example:
- “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 authorized Service Provider will contact you to schedule a mutually convenient appointment during normal business hours.”
- “We will determine what repairs constitute an emergency and will make reasonable efforts to expedite emergency service. 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.”
- “We have 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.”
- “We 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.”
- “Any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred to a maximum of $1500 per claim, but in no event attorneys’ fees.”
Those limitations extend to specific components within the many appliances and systems that are covered, undercutting the company’s “comprehensive protection” claims. Choice Home Warranty’s website purports to cover whirlpool bathtubs, but a close read of the fine print reveals it only protects the motor and pump assemblies. Jets, control panels, and even the tub itself are exempt. If any of those components break, you’re own your own. (And, in case you were interested, jets are among the most common whirlpool tub repairs.)
Choice Home Warranty has been swamped by negative feedback from customers in Illinois, Florida, Texas and Missouri for denying legitimate claims. Many customers complain that the company uses a loophole — such as a lack of maintenance records — to avoid shelling out for repairs. Just as disturbing, its home state of New Jersey fined the company in 2015 for nearly $800,000 for deceptive advertising practices. Take that all into account, and trust for Choice Home Warranty erodes quickly.
A Closer Look at Features
Basic Plan: $33.33/month or $370/year
Service Call Fee
Years in Business
Better Business Bureau Rating
People interested in low out-of-pocket cost for repairs
People who prefer to choose their own service technicians and appliances
- 24/7 service requests: You can submit service request at any time by phone or online. Unfortunately, that doesn’t guarantee a repair within a few hours. As indicated in the Terms of Service, Choice Home Warranty can delay for up to two days after receiving a request to even notify a technician.
- Service guarantee: If repairwork done under warranty fails, Choice Home Warranty sends a new technician waives the service fee — provided the failure occurs within a 90-day period for parts or a 30-day period for labor.
- Low service call fee: A rare bright spot: Some home warranty providers charge up to $125 per service visit. Choice Home Warranty’s $60 service call fee is inexpensive by comparison. It’s your only cost responsibility when a service technician arrives for a repair.
- Instant online quotes: At least the quote process is easy. Enter in your address, choose a plan and optional add-ons, and an instant quote pops up. Customers can choose between monthly and annual payments; annual payments earn you a discount of $30 per year. Click purchase, and you’re done.
- No home inspection required: Unlike many home warranty companies, Choice Home Warranty lets new customers skip a home inspection and go directly to coverage.
- Limited roof leak coverage: You can add this rare option to either plan for an extra fee. Potentially worth it for homeowners with an older roof.
- 30-day waiting period: Choice Home Warranty makes you wait through an industry-standard 30-day waiting period before enacting coverage. But there’s a loophole: If you already have a warranty through a different company, Choice Home Warranty will skip the waiting period to begin coverage instantly.
- Small plan selection: Choice Home Warranty only offers two plans. The primary difference is that the Total plan includes air conditioning, refrigerator, washer and dryer; the Basic plan does not. Since big-ticket items are necessary for most consumers, the Total plan is the only realistic option.
- Cash refunds: Choice Home Warranty reserves the right to give you cash instead of repairing or replacing broken systems. They admit the cash payment won’t be enough to cover the full cost of a repair visit or a new appliance in some cases.
- Larger houses pay a surcharge: Homes over 5,000 square feet must pay an additional $250 surcharge.
What Others Are Saying
Choice Home Warranty’s customer service woes are so widespread they’ve made the evening news. A sampling:
- Click 2 Houston reported that Choice Home Warranty has the most Better Business Bureau complaints of all home warranty companies in the area. The investigation uncovered repeated attempts by the company to deny claims on the basis that systems and appliances didn’t undergo proper maintenance. They also warn about the risks of buying a home warranty without paying close attention to the contract.
“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., exposed on another case where claims were denied because of improper maintenance. A customer sent maintenance records to Choice Home Warranty in an attempt to set the record straight, but they still refused to pay. The article also discusses frustration when communicating with a representative over the phone: “All I got was another claims representative who told me everyone there is a manager…Go figure.”
- NBC 5 in Chicago broadcast a story about a woman who was denied assistance from Choice Home Warranty when her furnace broke down. The company rejected the claim citing a “preexisting condition.” She expresses her dissatisfaction thusly: “It gives you a false sense of security that you are covered if something happens.” Choice Home Warranty later settled with the customer, provided she promised to stop speaking to the media.
- Action 9 News investigated a similar claim in Florida where Choice Home Warranty failed to cover a plumbing repair, insisting it fell outside the scope of the warranty. But when an independent repairman fixed the issue, he confirmed the repair should have been covered under the warranty. Another dissatisfied customer: “What’s the good of having a warranty if they’re not going to cover it?”
Other Home Warranties We Like
Home warranty companies don’t generate a lot of happy customers — partially as a result of misunderstandings about what falls under the realm of coverage. But some of the blame falls on home warranty providers weaseling out of covering repairs for customers. Choice Home Warranty stands out as a particularly egregious offender. There are other options, however:
American Home Shield Customizable plans, variable service charges, and higher marks for customer service put American Home Shield at the forefront of home warranty companies.
American Home Shield’s custom home warranty plans help you avoid paying to protect systems and appliances you don’t have. You also can choose between a $75, $100, or $125 service call fee. AHS’s plans cover everything Choice Home Warranty does, and they also cover instant hot/cold water dispensers, trash compactors, smoke detectors, and much more. Among home warranty providers, AHS offers some of the best customer service.
The Home Service Club The Home Service Club stands out for superior coverage, short waiting periods, and budget-friendly options.
Like American Home Shield, The Home Service Club offers three tiers of service call fee, which can lower your premium in exchange for a higher out-of-pocket cost for service requests. The Home Service Club’s Standard plan covers major appliances and systems, but the Comprehensive plan offers coverage for items that aren’t found with most home warranty providers (like pest control and gas leaks). Rates are affordable, making this a solid budget pick.
America’s 1st Choice Home Club Relatively low standard service fees and actual humans operating customer service make America's 1st Choice Home Club a viable option.
America’s 1st Choice Home Club has three plans aimed at a range of budgets. The Bronze plan covers only heating, air conditioning, and water heater; the Silver and Gold plans add electrical and plumbing systems in addition to all major appliances. Quotes are phone-only.
First American Home Buyers Protection Its entry-level plans are among the most affordable in the industry, and the company earns solid-if-unspectacular marks in every category we tested (coverage, quote process, and public opinion).
First American’s Basic plan covers major appliances; major systems require an upgrade to the Premier plan. Air conditioning is an optional add-on, but policies can be bought directly from their website.
The DIY Approach
If you’re in the market for a home warranty, it pays to shop around. Standard features and rates differ widely between companies and vary based on where you live and custom options you’ve chosen. Some companies also allow you to balance service call fees with monthly or annual premiums, choosing a higher amount in one category or the other.
If a home warranty seems like a questionable proposition, you can create your own emergency savings account to protect yourself from unexpected home repairs. If you manage to reserve $100 per month, that amounts to $1,200 in annual savings — plenty to cover most home repairs.
Don’t rush: Comb through contracts and work your way through a few scenarios and budgets. If an emergency fund seems out of reach, a home warranty could be a workable solution. If you can manage to build an emergency repair account, when it comes time for inevitable repairs you get to final choice of service technicians, appliances, and terms of repair.
The Bottom Line
Choice Home Warranty's limited options, dodgy record of service, and reputation for deceptive advertising makes it hard to recommend outright. Service fees are among the lowest out there, but if you pursue its home warranties, pay extra attention to contract language and coverage details.