Whether you consciously think about it or not, you probably spend a lot on your home appliances. In 2020, the average American homeowner spent more than $2,700 to buy new appliances and nearly as much again on repairing older units. Kitchen appliances, lawn tools, power tools, entertainment systems and computer gear all cost quite a bit, and things can go very wrong very quickly if any of your critical systems unexpectedly break down. Replacing or fixing a critical appliance, such as your refrigerator or washing machine, can be outside of your usual household budget. That’s where a home protection plan like American Home Shield comes in.
Overview of Home Protection Plans
The idea behind American Home Shield is simple; if an appliance in your home breaks down, you need it repaired or replaced fast. With a home protection plan in place, that process is covered by your appliance insurance plan and can get the problem solved for a flat service fee. In exchange for a reasonable monthly payment, you can get damaged or worn-out appliances back online without dropping thousands of dollars on costly repairs or new equipment.
Another reason home protection plans like American Home Shield are attractive is that they take out much of the uncertainty of professional appliance repair. Say you have an issue with your HVAC system, and you call a repair tech out to have a look at it. If he finds a much bigger and more expensive problem than you expected, your home protection plan can cover the difference without leaving you suddenly out of pocket for thousands of dollars.
American Home Shield Plans
A lot of home warranty plans come with fine print that can make it hard to understand what coverage you have and what it is you’re actually paying for. American Home Shield offers plans that are something of an answer to that, with fairly simple plan language and exclusions noted upfront and easy to understand. The company offers three service levels: Silver, Gold and Platinum, all of which come at different price points and offer different layers of protection.
- Silver: The Silver plan is the basic package and offers coverage for 14 home systems, mostly HVAC, plumbing and home electrical installations. This is the most affordable plan, but it pointedly does not cover kitchen appliances, laundry appliances or problems with your roof.
- Gold: The Gold plan covers all of the systems and appliances in your home, except for the roof. This is a more expensive option than Silver, but it comes with expanded coverage, fewer exclusions and higher coverage limits.
- Platinum: The Platinum plan offers the maximum coverage American Home Shield can provide. This is also the most expensive plan the company offers. This plan includes all of the benefits of Silver and Gold, plus some helpful extras, such as roof leak repairs, limited coverage for code violations, free refrigerant and an HVAC tune-up and up to $4,000 for appliance repair or replacement per unit.
American Home Shield operates nationwide through a network of authorized contractors. These vendors can perform local service calls and bill you directly for the service fee, then send the rest of the invoice for covered services to American Home Shield. Their association with the company adds peace of mind since American Home Shield only works with licensed contractors, and the company represents an extra layer of accountability in case anything goes wrong during your service call.
Systems Covered by American Home Shield
American Home Shield does offer a relatively wide range of benefits for a home warranty provider. The company lists these on its website, though it takes some digging to find out which service plans cover what items. At the maximum coverage level, you can insure more than 30 systems and services you might need, including:
- Built-in Microwaves
- Clothes Washers
- Clothes Dryers
- Garbage Disposals
- Installed Instant Hot/Cold Water Dispensers
- Air Conditioners
- Heating Units
- Interior Electrical Lines
- Built-in Exhaust Fans
- Main Breaker & Fuse Panel Box
- Ceiling Fans
- Garage Door Openers
- Interior Plumbing Lines
- Water Heaters
- Faucets & Valves
- Built-in Jetted Tub Motor & Parts
- Roof Leak Repair
- Pool & Built-in Spa Equipment
- Guest Units
- Septic Pumps
- Well Pumps
- Rekey locks
- HVAC Tune-Ups
- Indoor Service and Maintenance
- Tech Installation and Support
For each of these services, American Home Shield pays the bulk of your repair or replacement cost, though there are coverage limits. Also, you’re always on the hook for the contractors’ service fee, which varies by location and could be a few hundred dollars.
How American Home Shield Stacks Up
American Home Shield offers its plans at competitive rates. If anything, the rates are a little too good to be true since there seems to be vast coverage for home systems with monthly rates that beat most of the competition. The reason for this pops out after you read a few online customer reviews. More than a few customers complain about inconvenient coverage limits that left them seriously out of pocket.
Replacement appliances are included in all three American Home Shield plans, though they only guarantee the features and functionality of a replacement, not necessarily the brand or quality. So, you could have a problem with your $3,000 Blakeslee dishwasher that requires a replacement, only to get authorization for a $350 Frigidaire with the same features. You can choose a cash payment instead, though American Home Shield only pays what it would have spent on the replacement, rather than the full coverage limit for more expensive appliances.
That said, the company does have a lot to recommend its plans. For example, American Home Shield does not exclude any home or home system on account of age. It doesn’t exclude specific brands from coverage, nor does it impose onerous time limits for repairs and payments. It’s also very generous about losses caused by misrepair and negligence, which are usually deal-enders for other home protection plans.
American Home Shield Review: Is It Worth It?
As is the case with so many home protection plans, whether American Home Shield is worth it depends on your situation. If you have an older house with less expensive appliances, or you have a roof that might not be in great shape, American Home Shield might be the best option on the market. For newer homes, more expensive name-brand appliances or families whose homeowners’ insurance already covers these costs, it might be better to look elsewhere.
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