Home warranties offer peace of mind: When expensive appliances or home systems break down, you don’t have to sweat the cost of repairing or replacing them as long as they’re covered.
But even the best home warranties don’t cover everything. Whether it’s because the policy has exclusions or you did something to void the contract, it’s possible to have your home warranty claim denied.
Below, we’ll break down what voids a home warranty and the most common home warranty exclusions.
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9 Ways You Can Void a Home Warranty
For many homeowners, home warranties are worth the cost, but you should always read the fine print before signing to understand what actions may void the coverage you’re paying for.
Here are some of the most common ways you can void your home warranty. Note that this is not an exhaustive list. Read your home warranty contract carefully before signing to understand what can void coverage.
1. Skipping Regular Maintenance/No Maintenance Records
Home warranties primarily cover natural wear and tear to appliances and home systems. But if your appliances and systems break down faster because you didn’t abide by the maintenance guidelines, the home warranty company may deny your claim.
Keep up with regular maintenance on all appliances and systems. When relevant, retain documentation of the maintenance, such as invoices from contractors.
2. Making DIY Repairs/Not Choosing a Preferred Service Provider
Home warranty companies typically have preferred service providers. If you perform the repair yourself or use a contractor that the company did not approve, the home warranty company could reject your claim.
Even worse, the appliance or system may be ineligible for future coverage if it breaks down again.
3. Not Paying Your Premium
You get what you pay for, and, unsurprisingly, you don’t get what you don’t pay for. Make sure you keep up with your monthly premiums.
Failure to pay your premium is effectively a breach of contract—and the warranty company no longer has any obligation to reimburse your expenses, even if an item would’ve been covered otherwise.
4. Meeting or Exceeding Coverage Limits
It would be great if home warranty coverages had no limits, but unfortunately, in the world of warranties and insurance, coverage can only go so far.
Home warranties usually have an aggregate limit—the amount the company will cover across all your claims during a single period, usually a year. Once you hit that limit, whether it’s $10,000 or $50,000, you won’t get any more help from your warranty company, no matter what breaks down.
Beyond the aggregate limit, your warranty may also have per-item limits. For example, your air conditioning may be covered, but only up to $5,000. If the repair or replacement costs more, you’ll only get reimbursed up to that per-item limit.
In cases where repair or replacement costs exceed your limit, the home warranty company may issue you a cash payout equal to your coverage limit. It’ll be up to you to come up with the rest of the funds—and the warranty company may want documented proof that you used the payout for the repair or replacement.
5. Filing a Claim for a Known Pre-Existing Condition
Pre-existing conditions affect more than just your health insurance policies. Many home warranty contracts also exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Of course, most homeowners aren’t appliance specialists and may not recognize some of the more subtle pre-existing conditions. That’s why many home warranty companies differentiate between known and unknown pre-existing conditions.
- Known pre-existing conditions are those that are immediately obvious upon visual inspection or actual usage of the appliance or system. If a home inspector flags an issue on your documented home inspection (and you don’t fix it), that’s also a known pre-existing condition.
- Unknown pre-existing conditions are those that are more challenging for homeowners and even inspectors to detect. While the flaw may be lying in wait when you start the home warranty, it’s impossible to have known about such conditions.
To that end, many home warranty companies now cover unknown pre-existing conditions, with a caveat: Many have 30-day waiting periods when your policy first starts, during which unknown pre-existing conditions are excluded.
Each policy is different. Always read the fine print to understand how the home warranty company treats pre-existing conditions.
6. The Item Is Not Included in Your Plan
Not every inch of your house is covered by a home warranty. When you’re purchasing a new policy, pay attention to the specific tiers offered by each company you’re considering. Some warranties may only cover appliances, some may only cover home systems, and some may cover both—but still with exclusions.
Other items you might expect to be covered, like a lawn irrigation system, roof repairs, a septic system, or a swimming pool, may only be covered if you pay extra for optional add-on coverage.
If something’s not covered by your plan, don’t panic. There are other kinds of warranties that cover home appliances, including the manufacturer’s warranty, home appliance warranty, and extended warranty. Check your paperwork to see if your broken appliance is covered under one of these other warranties.
7. Failing to Report Fast Enough
If an appliance or system breaks down, file a claim right away. If you’re at the end of your contract term and wait to file a claim until after coverage ends—even if the breakdown happened during coverage—the home warranty company won’t cover the repair.
8. The Issue Is Beyond Normal Wear and Tear
Home warranties cover appliances and home systems that break down or fail due to normal wear and tear. If you’ve used your system improperly or an external factor has caused damage to an appliance, it may not be covered.
9. Incorrect Installation
Though this may be out of your control, a home warranty company may deny your claim if the service provider discovers that the appliance or system was originally installed incorrectly.
The contractor must also report to the company if the appliance or system violates any building codes—if it does, the warranty company is within its right to reject your claim.
Common Home Warranty Exclusions
When you’re shopping for home warranties, companies make it clear what is and isn’t covered. But home warranty exclusions go beyond the list of named appliances and home systems.
For instance, appliances and systems are usually only covered when they break down due to normal wear and tear, not from damage caused by a natural disaster.
And even items that are covered may have some exclusions buried in the fine print. The table below shows some common home warranty exclusions you may not know about:
|Covered Appliance or System||What Might Not Be Covered|
Freestanding mini fridges
|Oven, range, or cooktop||Door glass|
|Roof leak repair||Metals roofs|
Leaks caused by storm damage or an incorrectly installed solar panel
Damage caused by someone standing on roof
Toilet tank lid
|Lawn sprinkler system||Breakdown due to weather|
Insufficient or excessive water pressure
Exterior electrical lines
Attic exhaust fans
|Air conditioning and ductwork||Doorbells|
Exterior electrical lines
Attic exhaust fans
|Plumbing||Exterior plumbing lines|
Holding and storage tanks
As you can see, home warranty contracts can have a lot of fine print. Do your due diligence before purchasing a warranty—make sure you know everything that’s covered!
Remember, a home warranty is not the same as insurance. Check out our guide to home warranties vs. homeowners insurance to understand the difference.
What to Do If Your Home Warranty Company Refuses Your Claim
There are a lot of reasons you could have your home warranty claim denied: You might’ve done something to void the warranty, or the specific breakdown may just be one of the policy’s exclusions.
However, if your claim was denied and you don’t think it shouldn’t have been, you have some recourse.
How to Appeal If Your Home Warranty Claim Is Denied
If you disagree with the home warranty claim rejection, take these steps to appeal the decision:
- Review your home warranty contract. Before starting the appeals process, make absolutely sure that the appliance or system should be covered. Read through all the home warranty exclusions and determine what might void the contract. If you can’t see why your claim would’ve been denied, move forward.
- Request the appeal documents. Contact customer service and let them know you’d like to appeal the decision. They’ll provide you with the necessary paperwork to get started. Keep your policy on hand, as you may need to reference it during the call. Take notes during each call, including the customer service rep’s name.
- Ask for the inspection report. The home warranty company likely sent out a service technician to inspect the issue resulting from your claim. If so, that tech compiled an inspection report. Chances are, something in that report is what triggered your claim denial. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to better make your case (or recognize that the tech is right and stop the appeals process).
- Hire a third-party contractor. If you disagree with the service technician’s assessment, your best bet is to hire another qualified contractor to inspect the issue and, if they also disagree with the original assessment, draft a competing inspection report to use as part of your appeal.
- Wait for the decision. Follow all the steps of the appeals process, and then wait for the company’s decision. If the company still rejects your claim and you disagree, share your experience with the Better Business Bureau, on customer review sites, and on social media. Home warranty companies will want to maintain a good reputation and may finally cave and cover the repairs.
Home warranties can be extraordinarily helpful when a major appliance or home system breaks down. But if you don’t keep up with maintenance, try to repair an issue yourself, stop paying your premiums, or void the warranty in any other way, you might lose out on coverage.
Read your home warranty policy carefully to ensure you know how to keep your policy in good standing.