So, you are about to buy a house, probably an older house that is filled with charm and located in an enviable area of Atlanta, like Virginia Highland or Castleberry Hill. However, you don’t know the previous homeowners — so how can you trust that what they’re selling is worth the cost?
While there are a few checks and balances in home buying, one of the best for buyers of older homes is the home warranty. Typically offered by sellers as a show of good faith, home warranties provide additional coverage on features of your home that homeowners insurance usually misses. Specifically, home warranties help you repair or replace the major systems in your home should they break down due to normal wear and tear. Different warranty policies will cover different systems; standard policies usually cover plumbing, electrical and heating systems, but you can add on coverage for pools, roofs and — most importantly — electronics.
Your home is filled with electronics, and these advanced and delicate components tend to receive some of the most use, which is why they are often the neediest of maintenance and the most likely to break down. You need to be certain that the important electronics around your house are protected by your home warranty, so you need to understand how home electronics warranties work.
What Electronics Are Covered In A Home Warranty?
Before you get too excited and invest in all manner of expensive electronics, you should better understand what home warranties mean when they say “electronics.” Typically, a standard home warranty is concerned only with the built-in, large electronics around your home, which primarily include:
- Built-in microwave
- Garage door opener
- Trash compactor
However, if you opt to add a broader electronics warranty onto your policy, you can extend the manufacturer’s warranty on a number of other electronics around your home. An example of other electronics you can protect with your home warranty include:
- Desktop computers
- Laptop computers
- Gaming consoles
Thus, it is possible for you to keep all the electronics in your home protected — from your large kitchen appliances to your brand-new 4K, LED flat screen and your 8 gigabyte RAM, 2 terabyte hard drive gaming PC. But, what does “protected” mean?
How Does the Home Warranty Work?
Homeowners insurance functions like nearly any other type of insurance: An unexpected catastrophe occurs, you file a claim, and you receive some amount of money or assistance in making your home right again. Home warranties function much the same — but without the unexpected catastrophe.
With a home warranty, your electronics are protected against normal wear and tear that occurs over time. Most warranties require homeowners to perform small and necessary maintenance, like changing the HVAC air filters or keeping the oven clean, but if a covered system or electronic device breaks down, you simply call your warranty provider, who will schedule a visit from a qualified contractor in your area. As long as the contractor deems that the issue was not your fault or caused by outside forces, like a falling tree limb or flooding, the warranty provider will pay for all repairs or reimburse you a certain amount for a replacement. You only pay a small service fee, which is somewhere between $65 and $120 depending on your area and your plan.
The same holds true for your optional extended electronics policy, with the addition of coverage against power surges, material and workmanship defects and one annual battery replacement, all of which might be valuable to you if you have a number of high-powered electronics that you rely on.
Where Do You Get a Warranty?
Most electronics come with warranties out of the box, but these warranties are manufacturer warranties that expire after a year or two. Even the best manufacturer warranties, like “lifetime” warranties, are severely limited in what they will cover. Thus, you need to look elsewhere to keep all the electronics in your home covered — you need to search home warranty providers.
The best place to start is with your real estate agent. You should talk to your agent during the home buying process to verify that the sellers you are working with will provide a warranty with the sale of the property. Then, you should consult with the home warranty provider chosen for you to determine how best to add extra electronics coverage, if you need and want it.
As your first home warranty expires, you might want to research other warranty providers in your area to determine if another company can offer features that suit your home and needs more appropriately. Use the internet, and don’t be afraid to call providers’ customer service or sales lines. You might also talk to your neighbors and home-owning friends, who could point you in the direction of a reliable home warranty provider.
Homeownership is fun — but it requires an abundance of forethought and responsibility. Acquiring a home warranty and ensuring that the home warranty covers the most important items in your home is a good step to relaxing and enjoying your new space.