ByAnne Dennon Home Technology Writer

Anne has covered home security and home automation for for two years. She's interested in human-computer interaction and tech ethics.

American Home Shield Review

American Home Shield is a great choice if you're searching for a home warranty, which covers some repairs to appliances and systems in your home. A range of flexible plans and a large network of repair technicians increase the odds that the repair you need will be covered by your contract — and completed in a timely manner.

You have four options to choose from when you sign up: the Appliances Plan (your water heater), the Systems Plan (your plumbing system), the Combo Plan (a combination of the Appliances and Systems plans), or the Build Your Own Plan (which allows you to select the items you want covered yourself). You also have the option to backdate coverage to the date you purchased your home, depending on how soon after you apply for American Home Shield coverage. This level of customization is unusual within the industry and allows you to pay for only the coverage you need.

It’s important to note that the home warranty industry as a whole suffers from extremely low customer satisfaction. This dissatisfaction often stems from vague contracts, denied repairs, and disagreements over the quality of repairs that are completed. We found that American Home Shield does a better job than other major providers at keeping fine print to a minimum, but it’s still important to read your contract carefully before signing.

  Appliances Plan Systems Plan Combo Plan Build Your Own Plan
Price Varies Varies Varies Varies
Best for appliance coverage systems coverage appliance and systems coverage custom coverage
Number of items covered 11 10 21 10
What it covers Air conditioning*
Smoke detectors
Ceiling fans
Water heaters
Garbage disposals
Instant H/C water dispensers
Central vacuums
Clothes washers
Clothes dryers
Built-in microwave
Trash compactors
Freestanding ice makers
Garage door openers
Built-in food centers
Everything from both the Appliances and Systems plans Pick 10 items from the Appliances and Systems plans
(extra items for additional cost)

*including ductwork
**including stoppages

American Home Shield's Claim

“Founding the home warranty industry back in 1971," American Home Shield has remained committed to its initial goal as it continues “to make owning a home easier by helping [its] customers protect their budget from large, unexpected repair costs.”

Is it true?

Like most home warranty companies, American Home Shield has left a trail of disgruntled customers who didn’t understand their coverage until they tried to use it. Stipulations in the fine print allow warranty providers like AHS to set the terms for repair or replacement — and in some cases wriggle out from covering you altogether.

To make sure an American Home Shield home warranty provides you the peace of mind and financial benefits it promises, there are three things you need to do:

  • Choose coverage that you actually need. The option to build a plan is unusual within the industry, and it ensures that you’re not paying for a package that includes coverage for things you might not want or need. Because of this flexibility, the odds are much better that your American Home Shield policy will cover the things you actually want covered.
  • Don’t do anything that will nullify your policy. Home warranties, including those from American Home Shield, take certain decisions away from the consumer. Calling in your own repair guy (even just for an inspection), attempting to do maintenance yourself, or jerry-rigging an appliance for a different use will negate coverage. Failing to perform maintenance as specified by your appliance’s user manual or manufacturer can also negate coverage.
  • Understand what’s excluded. American Home Shield’s contracts are more clear and generous than most, but all home warranty contracts come with serious caveats when it comes to when your warranty can be applied. An example: Your plumbing system might be covered, but this usually doesn’t include bathtubs, sinks, or showers.

As long as you keep in mind the limits of your contract, American Home Shield should provide a solid home warranty experience. That said, while American Home Shield largely delivers on its promise, it is one lacking in one key area: workmanship guarantees. If you need the peace of mind that comes with long workmanship guarantees after repairs are made, you may be better off with a different company: AHS limits workmanship guarantees to two months, less than half of what other big-name companies provide.

American Home Shield at a Glance

Best for

People who want a flexible home warranty they can customize to their needs

Not for

People who prefer long workmanship guarantees

American Home Shield's Features

Price Varies
States served 49
Standout features Build Your Own plan
30-day waiting period
No home inspection required
Network of 15,000 independent contractors and 45,000 service technicians
Plans offered Appliances Plan
Systems Plan
Combo Plan
Build Your Own Plan
Service call fee $75, $100, or $125
Contract length 1 year

Customizable coverage

American Home Shield offers four plans — a Systems plan, an Appliance Plan, a Combo plan, and a Build Your Own plan. Over the phone, representatives will work with you to customize your policy during the quote process. For instance, one of our testers' homes didn't have air conditioning, so the rep removed that from coverage to lower her rate. When speaking with reps via online chat and phone, we found them polite and helpful across the board.

No home inspection required

Unlike many providers, American Home Shield doesn’t require home inspections before signing off on your warranty. Some providers use these inspections as a chance to omit older appliances from your contract (read: things more likely to break).

Choose your service fee

When you set up your home warranty plan, you have the ability to choose a service call fee of $75, $100, or $125. This is the one-off cost you’ll need to pay, along with a small convenience fee, if you need to request a service tech. Higher service fees will lower your monthly premium: Testers who chose a $100 service call fee saved $9 per month over the lower $75 fee. If you have relatively new appliances and aren’t expecting multiple catastrophes to strike per year, we’d suggest opting for a higher service fee.

Possible drawbacks

Shorter workmanship guarantee

A workmanship guarantee indicates how long your provider will stand behind its work. Unlike many other home warranty companies that guarantee their repairs up to 90 or 180 days, American Home Shield will only foot the bill for up to 60 days after the original claim.

Monthly premium may not be worthwhile for smaller repairs

The quote we obtained for a home warranty from American Home Shield would cost $516 annually, plus $100 for every service call. A $1,500 repair would justify the monthly payout, but if the repair amounted to anything less than $1,200, we’d have saved money by just pulling money out of an emergency savings account. While you do have the ability to pay a single lump sum, which could potentially offset the cost of a monthly premium, we always recommend pulling quotes from multiple companies to see if any offer you a better deal on the coverage you need.

American Home Shield's Competitors

  American Home Shield TotalProtect AFC Home Club First American Home Warranty
Our review
Better Business Bureau rating
B B B B+
Service fee
$75, $100, or $125 $75 or $125 $60 $75 to $100
Workmanship guarantee
60 days 180 days Life of contract 30 days
Build Your Own plan
24/7 support
Get a quote Get a quote Get a quote Get a quote

American Home Shield vs. TotalProtect

TotalProtect offers a six-month guarantee on all repair work: If you continue to have issues even after the problem has been “fixed,” the company will send a technician to do follow-up work at no additional charge. In contrast, American Home Shield only guarantees work for two months. TotalProtect also doesn’t place a liability cap on most systems and appliances, versus American Home Shield’s $3,000-per-item limit. But there’s no option to build your own home warranty plan with Total Protect, which means you may be stuck paying for coverage you don’t actually need — if you only need a select number of items covered, you may be better off with American Home Shield.

American Home Shield vs. AFC Home Club

Although American Home Shield and AFC Home Club both offer some of the industry’s most flexible coverage options, American Home Shield continues to outshine with the Build Your Own plan, but AFC Home Club's life-of-contract workmanship guarantee is incredibly rare in the industry: in comparison, American Home Shield only guarantees its repairs up to 60 days. We recommend comparing plan options and getting quotes from both companies, though it’s also worth noting that AFC Home Club only offers plans in 47 states, whereas American Home Shield is available in 49.

American Home Shield vs. First American

First American Home Warranty lacks the flexibility of other providers, especially compared to American Home Shield's Build Your Own plan. Its two plans don’t cover certain systems, like air conditioning, that come standard with most home warranty companies — this coverage costs extra. But if you’re mainly interested in kitchen appliance coverage, it can't hurt to call and get a quote: In its most basic plan, First American covers more kitchen items than American Home Shield.

American Home Shield FAQ

What causes an item to be excluded from American Home Shield coverage?

Typical home warranty exclusions include items that have been improperly installed or modified, or those that have preexisting flaws, those already under a manufacturer’s warranty, and those with cosmetic flaws that might affect how a machine looks but not how it functions.

What if an appliance can’t be repaired?

If one of your appliances is damaged, American Home Shield will first need to determine whether or not the item is beyond repair. If the company decides that this is the case, it will offer a replacement or suggest another solution.

American Home Shield Review: The Bottom Line

Only you can decide if an American Home Shield warranty makes sense for your home. Consider the age and value of your home systems and appliances, do the math to figure out how much you’d be set back if some of your larger items failed, and measure if the potential savings are worth the exchange of freedoms and limitations that come with any home warranty. Then spend some time quote-surfing. AHS is a strong contender based on its customizable plans and helpful customer service, but getting quotes from multiple companies ensures that you're getting the cheapest premium for the coverage you need.

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