American Home Shield Review
American Home Shield is a home warranty company that is part of the residential and commercial services company, ServiceMaster Company, which also owns Terminix and Merry Maids. American Home Shield offers home warranties – service plans designed to cover appliance or home systems breakdowns that your homeowner’s insurance does not cover. A home warranty typically includes items that are considered part of the regular costs of home ownership such as the breakdown of appliances, electrical systems, and plumbing. Home warranties are best suited for those who live in an older home, especially if they do not have the know-how or physical capability for do-it-yourself repairs.
Your home is probably the most costly thing you have to maintain. While homeowner’s insurance covers damage due to storms and fires, that coverage does not include broken appliances, HVAC, plumbing, water heaters, or outdated electrical systems that fail due to age or simple wear and tear. This coverage gap can leave a huge hole in the budget of most consumers and is where home warranties fit in. A home warranty is designed to cover the repairs that homeowner’s insurance will not. For example, if your water heater suddenly stops working your homeowner’s insurance will not cover it, but a home warranty will.
American Home Shield has been providing home warranties since 1971 and states they have paid out over $2 billion in claims in the last five years alone, with nearly 1.7 million customers serviced.
- Several coverage options available
- Multiple service fee levels
- No home inspection required
- Coverage exclusions can be technical and difficult to understand
- Service calls have no guaranteed time frame beyond a contractor assigned within 24 hours
American Home Shield Home Warranty Plans
American Home Shield offers several home warranty plans along with additional coverage riders for specific items. Their Systems Plan covers essential systems within the home including:
Air conditioning with ductwork
Heating with ductwork
Electrical system and doorbells
Plumbing (including some stoppages)
The Appliances Plan covers large and small appliances that are not easily removed from the home. In addition to covered appliances, this plan also covers items you can add on such as pools and spas, well pumps, septic pumps and more. Covered items under the Appliance Plan include:
Freestanding ice makers
Garage door openers
Built-in food centers
A little over 61 percent of customers use American Home Shield’s Combo Plan. It covers items under both the Systems and the Appliances Plan.
American Home Shield also offers a Build Your Own Plan where consumers can select just the systems and/or appliances for which they need warranty repair coverage. Coverage riders are also available for pools or spas, well pumps, septic pumps, and additional guest units up to 750 square feet in size, like a mother-in law’s suite.
American Home Shield Home Warranty Fast Facts
|Coverage Length||Cancellation Policy||# Of Repair Limits||Coverage Effective Date|
|12 months||Cancel anytime
after 30 days. Refunds
are prorated and subject
to an administrative fee
|No limit on the number
of covered repairs but
there are coverage
limits and caps
for specific items
|Coverage goes into
effect 30 days after
a plan is purchased
American Home Shield Home Warranty Pricing
Prices for each home warranty plan aren’t available online but you can request a free quote for each plan on their website. There are many factors that determine the final price for your plan but multiple consumers were quoted $516 per year ($43 per month) with a $100 service call fee. As with any insurance, your exact monthly premium will vary based on the policy chosen, your location and your deductible. With American Home Shield, you can set the level of the deductible to either lower your out of pocket costs or lower your premiums.
You can also set your own trade service call fee. This is the fee you pay the contractor when he or she comes out to diagnose your covered item. Trade service call fees start at $75 which lets you pay less per service call. You can also choose $100 per call or $125 per call. The $125 per call fee will lower your monthly payment on your home warranty plan. The deductibles are paid for trade service call fees every time a contractor is sent to the home, regardless of whether the issue reported is deemed covered or non-covered. Depending on the warranty you choose, there may also be coverage limits or caps that could affect your total out of pocket costs for repairs.
American Home Shield Home Warranty Exclusions
All home warranty policies have exclusions in coverage, no matter what company you choose. For example, while plumbing is covered, there is no coverage for stoppages caused by roots or foreign objects in the pipes. Also, some coverages have limits to repair or replacement cost, as mentioned in our Best Home Warranties buyer’s guide. For example, if a plumber has to cut through a wall to access a pipe, the warranty would only cover the wall repair to a rough finish and limits the dollar value of those repairs. As with any home warranty, consumers should read the policy entirely and be sure they understand all of the limits and exclusions before purchasing a plan. American Home Shield offers consumers a chance to view sample policies before making a purchase.
American Home Shield Home Warranty Claims
The claims process for American Home Shield home warranties starts with either a claim submitted via your online account, creating an online service request using the warranty look-up tool or by making a call to their 24-hour claims line.
The trade service fee is due at the time that the consumer files the claim request. Once the trade service fee is paid, American Home Shield will assign a contractor in the consumer’s area within 24 hours. The contractor then contacts the consumer to set up an appointment to inspect the item in question then determines if a repair is required. The contractor does not arrive at a specific time, so someone will need to be home for a window of a few hours while waiting for the contractor to show up. The contractor inspects and diagnoses the issue, then contacts American Home Shield to determine coverage. If the warranty covers the problem, repair or replacement within the limits of the coverage will be authorized.
How to Buy an American Home Shield Home Warranty
American Home Shield home warranties can be purchased via a toll-free number or on their website, by clicking on the bright orange Get a Quote button. From there, fill out the home address and select a coverage plan, either Systems, Appliances, Combo, or Build Your Own.
Because the base monthly price of these plans varies depending on your location due to home costs in the area, local cost of living, and state regulations, we can’t provide an estimate of the cost you should expect. The sampling of locations we tested returned base rates of $40 to $50 a month depending on location and plan.
What Consumers Say about American Home Shield
American Home Shield has a Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating of “B” and a four- out of five-star rating on ConsumerAffairs with over 21,000 reviews posted. Most positive reviews speak highly of customer service. American Home Shield has been quick to respond to customer issues with contractors doing poor work or lengthy delays in service appointments on ConsumerAffairs and successfully closed complaints through the BBB.
American Home Shield Q&A
Do I have to pay the trade service fee before I find out if my claim is covered?
Yes. The trade service fee is required each time a service contractor is dispatched to the home, regardless of the final coverage determination. This fee goes directly to the contractor to compensate him or her for the trip to your home and time spent diagnosing the problem, and it is required before a contractor is called.
Can I choose my contractor?
No. American Home Shield selects a licensed, professional contractor from your area and contacts them for you. The contractor will then contact you to set the service call time window.
Do I have to have a home inspection?
No. A home inspection or records of previous repairs are not required to obtain coverage with American Home Shield.
Is coverage available in all states?
Coverage is currently available in 49 states. Alaska is the only state where coverage is unavailable at this time.
What if my covered item is not repairable?
If your covered item is beyond repair, then American Home Shield will replace the unit when possible or suggest other solutions if replacement isn’t within the limits of your warranty contract.
The cost of maintaining your home and its main components are likely the most significant expense you have next to a mortgage payment and property taxes. Unfortunately, an unexpected break down of a refrigerator or an electrical problem can cause a severe financial strain. A home warranty is an option for reducing the uncertainty of some of the repair costs associated with homeownership, requiring a small monthly payment.
Budgeting funds in savings to cover service fees further reduce financial strain compared to keeping thousands of dollars in savings in case of an appliance or home system failure. American Home Shield warranties are a good fit for those who buy an older home, or for seniors who want to stay in their home but do not have the know-how or physical capability for do-it-yourself repairs.