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Home warranties have become a popular sales tool in the real estate industry, touted by sales agents as a low-cost way to make a house stand out in a crowded market. American Home Shield said in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission it serves 1.3 million homeowners, amounting for more than 35 percent of a $1.3 billion market. But interviews with consumers, real estate agents, attorneys and consumer advocates across the country show the largely unregulated industry is clouded by complaints of poor service, questionable practices and in some cases, alleged fraud. Many consumers are finding home warranties are often a bad deal.

* $225m in home warranty premiums were collected, but only $16m paid out in claims
* The premium-to-claim pay out ratio is well below normal

Dawn Inserra thought she had all the bases covered when she purchased her first home in July.
She said she hired a home inspector to survey the 35-year-old, three-bedroom ranch in Toms River for any hidden deficiencies and followed him around for four hours. Then, there was a one-year home warranty the seller threw in as a closing gift, just in case anything major broke.
Sure enough, two months after she moved in, Inserra said her furnace stopped working. A local contractor concluded the furnace was on its last leg and could potentially leak hazardous carbon monoxide through the ductwork in her home.
She said she expected the warranty company, American Home Shield, to pick up the tab. Instead, she said American Home Shield, the nation's largest warrant company, initially refused to foot the $4,000 bill to replace her furnace because, a service representative told her, the heating system had not been maintained properly.
The company declined to comment on this specific case and eventually paid a portion of the cost after she complained to her Realtor. But it still rankles the 29-year-old Inserra.
"When I bought the house it came with the warranty, and I was reassured that I wouldn't be stuck with any huge unexpected bills and it turns out to be the opposite," she said.

Warranty Companies on Most Complained List again

For the sixth consecutive year, home warranty companies topped the worst-graded categories list compiled by Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local contractors and service companies.

Fifty-four percent of the consumer reviews submitted by Angie’s List members who’d bought a home warranty and reported on their experience in 2010 gave their company D or F grades.

Here is the list.

Visit Angie Hicks Blog to read the complete article

Angie's List 2010 Most Complained About Companies

1. Home warranty companies*
2. Property management companies*
3. Internet service providers*
4. TV cable & satellite providers*
5. Wedding professionals – bridal and tuxedo shops, planners
6. Dry cleaners
7. Phone services*
8. Auto sales
9. Car services – limos and taxi services*
10. Florists

Do not rely on some home warranties to cover problems after you buy the house. Many of these warranties are written so the problems will be denied, you will give up dealing with the company because of poor customer service, or you will have to pay additional money for the repairs. Some of these companies deny you because the product was not serviced regularly, correctly, or you may not have proof that it was serviced at all. There may be some good companies but many sources say that this is the most complained about service of homeowners. Have an inspection before you buy the house. There are many places on the internet to get information and reviews on these companies.
Here are some links or you can Google; "
home warranties good or bad";
Home Warranty Pros and Cons
Some of the companies Home Owners have complained about;
American Home Shield
Old Republic Home Protection
America's Preferred
A home warranty is not an alternative to a home inspection.
We perform home inspections in Minnesota across the entire twin cities Minneapolis / St. Paul metro and surrounding area including; Afton, Albertville, Andover, Annadale, Anoka, Apple Valley, Arden Hills, Augusta, Bayport, Becker, Bell Plaine, Big Lake, Blaine, Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Buffalo, Burnsville, Cambridge, Cannon Falls, Carver, Champlin, Chaska, Chisago City, Circle Pines, Coates, Cokato, Cologne, Columbia Heights, Coon Rapids, Corcoran, Cottage Grove, Crystal, Dassel, Dayton, Delano, Deephaven, Duluth, Eagan, East Bethel, Eden Prairie, Edina, Elk River, Elko, Excelsior, Falcon Heights, Faribault, Farmington, Forest Lake, Fridley, Gem Lake, Glencoe, Golden Valley, Goodhue, Greenfield, Greenwood, Dupont, Ham Lake, Hampton, Hanover, Hastings, Heidelberg, Hopkins, Hutchinson, Hugo, Independence, Inver Grove Heights, Isanti, Jonathan, Jordan, Kenyon, Lake Elmo, Lake St. Croix Beach, Lakeland, Lakeland Shores, Lester Prairie, Lexington, Lillydale, Lino Lakes, Lindstrom, Litchfield, Little Canada, Long Lake, Lonsdale, Loretto, Mankato, Maple Grove, Maple Lake, Maple Plain, Maplewood, Marine on the St. Croix, Mankato, Mayer, Medicine Lake, Mendota Heights, Miesville, Milaca, Minnetonka, Minnetrista, Monticello, Montgomery, Montrose, Mound, Mounds View, New Brighton, New Germany, New Hope, New Market, New Prague, New Trier, Newport, North Branch, Northfield , North St. Paul, Norwood Young America, Oak Grove, Oakdale, Oak Park Heights, Orono, Osseo, Otsego, Owatonna, Pine City, Pine Island, Plymouth, Princeton, Ramsey, Randolph, Red Wing, Richfield, Robbinsdale, Rochester, Rockford, Rogers, Rosemount, Roseville, Rush City, Sartell, Sauk Rapids, Shoreview, Shorewood, South St. Paul, Spring Lake Park, Spring Park, St. Bonifacius, St. Cloud, St. Francis, St. Louis Park, St. Michael, St. Paul Park, St. Peter, Stillwater, Vadnais Heights, Vermillion, Victoria, Waconia, Waseca, Watertown, Waverly, Wayzata, Webster, West St. Paul, White Bear Lake, Winstead, Woodbury, Woodland, Wyoming, Zimmerman, Zumbrota and many other surrounding Minnesota cities in the following counties; Anoka, Benton, Carver, Chisago, Dodge, Dakota, Goodhue, Hennepin, Isanti, Kanabec, Le Sueur, McLoed, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Ramsey, Rice, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, Stearns, Steele, Victoria, Waseca, Washington, Wright.
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