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Home Warranty Companies Accused of Shady Tactics

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Sacramento, CAWhen home owners make important purchases, they rely on home warranty insurance to protect them from outrageous costs that can arise when those purchases fail to work as promised. Home warranty lawsuits, which allege customers have had valid insurance claims denied, have been filed against multiple home warranty companies, seeking to force these companies to honor their contracts.

Some customers turn to consumer advocates to help them. That was the case when Michael Perez's hot water heater stopped working and the company they purchased a home warranty through refused to cover the repair costs (as reported by CBS Sacramento, 9/18/12). Kurtis Ming, who helps consumers with such situations, reports that Perez paid more than $400 for a warranty through Fidelity National Home Warranty to cover appliances, but Fidelity denied the claim stating the water heater must have been in good, safe working order when the contract was started.

But as Ming learned, a technician reported that the day the heater was turned on it was fine. According to Ming, Fidelity still refuses to pay for the water heater, so Perez bought a new one, but he is considering legal action against the warranty company.

Fidelity National is not the only warranty company to have complaints filed against it. American Home Shield has faced a lawsuit and American Fidelity was the subject of a CBS Las Vegas report (9/13/12). That situation involved Manny Curesma, whose air conditioning failed to work properly. When he contacted American Fidelity, he was reportedly told his policy did not exist.

American Fidelity reportedly closed shop on August 14, 2012. According to the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland (8/1/12), the bureau sent a pattern letter to American Fidelity Services after a sudden increase in customer complaints about the company. The bureau cited failure to respond to customer complaints, calls and emails and failure to uphold the terms of service contracts as reasons for issuing the letter. On June 27, 2012, the Florida Insurance Commissioner issued an order for American Fidelity to stop the unauthorized business of a home warranty association in the state of Florida.

The commissioner notes that American Fidelity offered a home warranty program without a license.

A statement on the American Fidelity website notes that the company closed due to "economic hardships and other factors." No word on what will happen for customers who recently paid for warranties through the company.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
On Nov 1, 2013, I opened a warranty claim with First American Home warranty. I was having problems with the unit shaking my house. The representative told me on the phone..."it's a $60 service fee, however if the unit has to be replaced, all you have to pay is the $60 dollar service fee there will be no additional costs if it needs to be replaced." They sent their contracted a/c company (Central Heating and Cooling) out to do an inspection.

On Nov 3, 2013, a representative from Central Heating and cooling arrived to conduct the inspection of my HVAC unit. It was discover the unit is blowing dangerous levels of carbon monoxide into my home due to a faulty heater transfer. The contractor condemned the unit and notified First American.

On Nov 5, 2013, I received a work order from First American indicating they were replacing the unit. I received a phone call from Justin at Central Heating and Cooling to set up an appointment. He advised me that I would have over $2,000 dollars worth of out-of-pocket expenses for the new installation which I had to pay directly to Central Heating and Cooling. I was caught off guard by this because I was told by First American that all I had to pay was the $60 dollar service fee if the unit had to be replaced.

I recontacted First American that same day obviously upset about the misleading information. I told them I suspected THEIR contractor was trying to scam me for additional costs of the installation. I told them I was advised at the time of my claim a representative informed me I would only have to pay the $60 dollar service fee if the unit had to be replaced. I asked them to review the recorded line to verify my information. I was told not all phone calls are recorded and the information I was given at the time of the claim is incorrect. I was now told that any modification during the installation would not be covered under the warranty. They also told me they had not yet received the work order from the contractor so they were unable to review what cost were or were not covered. The representative told me she would call the contractor and request a breakdown of costs and call me back. I never received a call back.

I called first American the following day to follow up. I spoke with a new representative. The rep reviewed the notes on my claim and told me the contractor submitted a list of items which were necessary for the installation of a new unit. I asked for a breakdown of expenses and asked what my cash out option would be. The following is the costs:

First American pays wholesale for
-new HVAC $1500
-contracted labor $550
Total=$2,050

My responsibility
-new platform $368
-duct mods $310
-roof jack $418
-gas mod $115
-electrical mod $144
-drain mod $73
-Title 24 $488
-register and boot seal $175
Total=2,091

My cash out option-$2000

I argued with first American that they were trapping me to use their contractor because my cash out option would not even cover buying myself a new HVAC. On to over that it was obvious that the contractor was running up the costs to make additional money on the install. I told First American all this items were standard items of an install but because of the wording it appears as a modification which according to the policy is not covered. It was an obvious scam to me. I argued gas/electric/ drain lines don't require modification unless they are being rerouted (eg. Relocating the HVAC from the roof to the ground) simply putting a flex pipe or bend on exiting lines as part of an install does not constitute a modification. My policy covers $250 for permitting and $250 for Code. Yet I'm being charged $488 for Title 24 which is test to make sure it passes a code inspection for permitted use. Duct work is also covered under my policy.

To me it is obvious First American only wants to pay for the new unit at wholesale and their contracted labor and force me to pay unnecessary items which are standard typical installation items when replacing a 20 year old unit with a new one.

Since my claim I have not been able to turn on my unit due to carbon monoxide. I'm always told by First American that they will call the contractor to go over the work order and call me back. I call First American daily and never get answers. They keep telling me they will call back by the end of the day but never do.

It's obvious that the contractor is trying to scam me to make more money on the deal. First American is denying ever telling me I would only have to pay $60 if unit has to be replaced. They also are deny covered items or costs when the policy clearly showed they should be covered.

Posted by

on
When I purchased my home in 2010, my realtor said to get home coverage through, First Amercan Home Warranty. My furnance was turned off by PG&E, stating "it was unsafe to turn on the heater. I lived in a frezzing house for a year. Untill I paid 860.00 to have first american home warranty come out and repair my furnance. This was unfair for me to pay for the heater. I was covered under the warranty.

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