Our Review Process
We considered a variety of factors homeowners care the most about when seeking out a home warranty provider. Our experienced research team, subject matter experts, and editorial team also took into account the results of a consumer survey to determine the categories and features that shaped our top picks for home warranty providers across the country.
Below are the four major categories and features we considered to rank home warranty providers.
Because homeowners purchase home warranties to save money, we considered the pricing of each provider’s plans to be extremely important. We looked at two things:
- Plan cost
- Trade service fee range
Coverage and support
Customers want to know when they can expect their repairs to be started, so we factored in how long providers take to respond to claims. We also took a number of other factors into consideration when ranking for coverage and support.
- Claim response times
- Payout caps
- States available
- Waiting period
- Number of claim-filing channels
- Number of customer support channels
- Availability of plans for Realtors
- Availability of plans for home sellers
Can you customize your plan and add on options that are important to you as a homeowner? We factored this into our rubric as well. We also considered a number of other factors related to customizability and flexibility.
- Contract length range
- Customizable coverage
- Ability to use own repair person
- Free cancellation
Transparency is critical when it comes to choosing a home warranty plan, so we took a deep dive into providers' sites to see if they offered online, transparent plan pricing, sample contracts, and other information.
- Online plan pricing availability
- Sample contract availability
- Exclusion information availability
- Dispute information availability
We collected data on the top 25 companies in the home warranty industry representing the vast majority of the overall market share. We collected a total of 875 data points through online and direct company phone and email outreach across a total of 35 scoring criteria.
Our customer survey of 538 consumers also informed our data collection process. These current, past, and prospective home warranty customers offered valuable input about the criteria that meant the most to them when choosing a provider.
We asked consumers to rank which home warranty features they considered most important. The features respondents reported as most important involved the cost of coverage and service fees, so we placed more emphasis on those results when determining our final scores. About 74% of our respondents placed the most importance on plan cost, followed by trade service fees at 63%, claims response times at 48%, state availability at 48%, and the availability of online pricing at 46%.
Moving to our featured category weightings, we put the most significant weight on cost, coverage and support, customizability and flexibility, and transparency. Here's how those weightings were spread out.
Now let's take a closer look at how these features were considered when we established our data rubric.
Cost of plan (31.48%)
- Average plan cost in the most populous states - California, Texas, Florida, and New York (22.19%)
- Trade service fee range (9.29%)
Coverage and support (31.18%)
- Payout caps (7.88%)
- Claim response times (7.46%)
- States available (6.12%)
- Waiting period (5.84%)
- Number of claim-filing channels (1.42%)
- Number of customer support channels (1.39%)
- Realtor plans (0.53%)
- Home seller plans (0.53%)
Customizability and flexibility (19.72%)
- Ability to use own repair technician (6.19%)
- Contract length range (4.91%)
- Free cancellation (4.40%)
- Customizable coverage (4.22%)
Cost of plan
When it comes to features customers care about the most, it's hardly surprising that plan pricing topped the list.
Home warranties are designed to save customers money on their home appliance and system repairs. If a plan costs more than what a homeowner would pay out of pocket to make those repairs, it's hardly worth the investment.
Home warranty providers aren't always transparent when it comes to their plan pricing, so we gave credit to companies that were forthcoming about their plan costs. We found plans that range from $239 per year to $1,110 per year, so it's critical to do your homework, especially since pricing usually varies by state.
Also factored into plan pricing was trade service fees. A trade service fee is a deductible of sorts that you pay when a technician comes to your home to repair an appliance or system. The higher your trade service fee, the lower your monthly payment. We found that trade service fees typically range from $55 to $175, and providers usually have a range of fees that increase in $25 increments depending on the plan.
Coverage and support
Coverage and support refers to the appliances and systems that are covered in each plan the provider offers. We found most top-tier home warranty plans cover at least 20 appliances and systems. A few cover more than 30, but these would be considered outliers.
It also incorporates waiting periods customers will have to endure before coverage begins. Most of the providers we reviewed have a 30-day waiting period between the time the plan is purchased and the time coverage begins.
Additionally, we took into account payout caps for appliances and systems, the number of claims-filing channels provided, the number of customer support options, and the geographic availability of coverage.
Customizability and flexibility
We took into consideration a number of factors related to customizability and flexibility. This included the length of contracts offered, whether plans could be customized with add-ons and additional coverage, whether customers can use their own repair person, and whether you can cancel without penalty.
If a company provided coverage options that allow customers to pick and choose, we gave that company an extra point. We penalized companies without customization options.
Companies that provided easy-to-locate plan pricing, availability, exclusions, coverages, and other critical plan information scored highly with us. We also took into consideration whether or not a sample contract was available on the provider's website.
Customers are looking for easy ways to resolve disputes, and we awarded points to companies that made it easy for customers to raise concerns and get help if they are dissatisfied.
Choosing the Right Home Warranty for You
We rated each company based on a variety of factors that we consider the most important to prospective home warranty purchasers. These include the plan costs, coverage and support, transparency, and customizability.
Incorporating a customer survey into our selection process, we weighted each of these factors based on the features customers care most about.
But individuals have different needs, and what is important to one homeowner will be less important to another. Our reviews are a guideline to help you pick the provider that suits your individual needs.
To see which companies ranked the best in our reviews, be sure to check out our list of the best home warranty companies.