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Attorney Discusses Warranties vs Insurance and American Home Shield

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Olathe, KSArt Chartrand, an attorney with the National Home Service Contract Association, wants to get the record straight regarding some confusion over the American Home Shield Corporation. “There is no such thing as home warranty insurance,” says Chartrand, “and home warranty companies such as American Shield are not in the insurance business.”

American Home Shield is a member of The National Home Service Contract Association (NHSCA), a non-profit industry trade organization comprised of member companies serving home service contract providers and consumer interests throughout the US. It deals with existing homes and home services only.

Chartrand, who has represented the home service contract (home warranty) industry since 1992, wants the public to know that warranties and insurance is a complex industry comprising four separate industries. “I work mostly in the insurance industry and policies can be confusing,” he says, adding that the media can feed into the confusion. “One of the problems is that some people don’t understand what products are insurance, and the term insurance can get misused. As well, there is a misconception that a warranty means insurance, but there is no such thing as home warranty insurance.”

To make things more complicated, Chartrand says there are programs that new builders are involved with but his association has nothing to do with builders. “The bottom line is that you have new homes and builder warranty programs,” he explains. “Defects in construction have nothing to do with home warranty—it is a different area of law. And it has nothing to do with insurance that I am aware of. Further, warranty per se is generally regulated under federal law and insurance under state law—they are totally separate.”

So a defect in a new home and problems with builders and new homes have nothing to do with American Home Shield, although the media has pointed the finger at the home warranty company regarding these issues.

“It is unfortunate that some people confuse home warranty companies like American Home Shield with insurance companies and I am sure it happens all the time,” says Chartrand. “I just want to make it clear that they are separate. To reiterate, the home warranty industry is not the same as builder home warranty programs—they are two different industries.

“As for the lawsuit against American Home Shield, you can allege anything you want in a lawsuit and it is rarely proven in a class action. I want to emphasize that American Home Shield does not sell insurance. Neither do they have an insurance product, nor are they in the insurance business. Instead they sell home warranty, which is the same thing as home service contracts.”

(In 2010 American Home Shield settled a class action lawsuit that alleged the warranty company "engaged in a pattern and practice of failing to fulfill its contractual obligations to its customers” by failing to provide repair and replacement services even when customers were entitled to those services, and improperly denying claims during the first year of home service contracts. And last June 2011 another class action lawsuit alleged improper denials. And there are more recent allegations.)

“I admit that the NHSCA can be partially to blame for some confusion but it is historical,” adds Chartrand. “Most home service contracts have been historically sold in conjunction with the resale of a home and real estate agents just called them ‘home warranties’ and the moniker stuck.”

And one more thing: Although the term “home warranty” has been used historically throughout the industry, the correct term is “home service contract”. Got that clear? If not, Chartrand asks that you check out the NHSCA FAQ page.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
I am unfortunately insured by AHS and at the time of renewing my contract last year, I added my hot tub in insurance and the lady told me no problem and start charging me every month for it. last month my hottub died on me therefore I called them to fix it. The send me someone to fix it. The gentleman charged me 75$ fee as norm and look into it and said no worries we will fix that no problem. after two weeks passed, I got call from AHS and she told me that my hottub is not covered and it was shocking news for me. because of them I never get insurance from any other company by assuming it is covered. When I asked them how come I am paying for issurance for hottub/spa since begining of the contract and she said that we only cover hottub/spa underground and yours is not underground. what an excuse. I was paying for something that i never had. This company is a joke.

Can any one tell me is there anyway to get the money back from these crooks because I do not have pool that they insured me for and charged me money for something i never had. and now i have a broken spa which is now can not be fixed because insurance company bailed on it. please guide what are my rights here.

Posted by

on
We have been paying American Home Shield over 9 years $57.00 a month now. 7months ago I called them & explained my central AC unit was leaking water to the first floor right on to our stove in our kitchen and also the thermostat was not working.
They said some one would come out & repair. They also informed me that instead of the $60 service fee it had gone up to $75 now, without ever notifying me. I did complain about the service fee going up and ask them if they legally were allowed to do that without ever letting us know and they said yes that it was illegal.
Someone contacted us and they came out to check the AC and the thermostat. I was not here at that time my husband stayed home to wait for them. We wrote them a check for $75 and the only thing the gentleman did was go around the house and explain to my husband how we could save money on our energy bill by fixing some holes or areas that were perhaps not airtight.
I came home and the AC had not been fixed and the broken thermostat was still there. My husband said that the man told him that was all American home shield told him to do. I told my husband that the electric company comes out to your house and gives you that information for free & you don't need American home Shield for that plus you don't need to pay $75 for someone to show you how to save on your energy bill.
I immediately called the gentleman and asked him why he did not repair anything in the central AC or install a new thermostat. He said American Home Shield did not mention to him that the AC was not working properly or there was a leak & not even put down on his work order form that the thermostat was broken. He said my AC was working good. I asked him why didn't he even notice the thermostat was broken & how could water coming out driping from 2nd floor on to our stove on 1st floor mean our AC was working good. He said he checked the filter and it was very clean. I explained that's why the AC leaking water must mean it's not working properly or its broken In some way. Otherwise I would not have called American Home Shield. I explained we change our filter every 3 weeks because we have pets. I told him I was going to call American Home Shield and get this straightened out. He asked me to please not call them back because this incident would fall back on him. He then said there must be a problem with the drainage of the AC needing to be flushed for some other reason or maybe just because it was an older AC unit that could cause some type of buildup inside the drain but that he would be over to flush the drain of AC & replace the thermostat within the next two days. All I understood is we always kept our AC very clean but leaking water on to our stove could be very dangerous. I told him he should have noticed that when he came out. He said not if American Home Shield did not put it on his work order form. He apologized and was very nice. So I did not call back American home Shield, at that time. I trusted that he would be back and do what he had said because I had already paid him.
The Gentlemen never showed up again.
I called him a few weeks later. He said yes he remembered but had been very busy. He asked me to call him again in a few days.
I finally called American Home Shield again & told them what occurred. They were upset with me and told me that I was never to contact their contractor directly. That I am only to speak to them, American home shield. I apologize & explained I never knew that. The lady at American Home Shield told me it was a good thing I had just called her again because that company had just put in to close the bill out because the job had been completed. She said they, American Home Shield, would get the problem taken care of and that I would be contacted again via phone. I was called again by a lady who told me that they would call to make an appointment with in another 24hrs. On Oct 14, I called again & on my THIRD call to American Home Shield I spoke to a Courtney. Again they would take care of this issue. Now I believe we have been waiting a total of over six months... more or less and I've heard from no one. our AC is still broken leaking water onto our stove in the kitchen and Our thermostat does not work, therefore we have gone through some very hot days but American home Shield has still been collecting it's fee every month plus the check for $75 that we paid the service man. Not only have we had to live under the circumstances that at moments we feel that we are in a sauna but there is also a fear that if the stove happens to be on at the moment that the AC leaks water we may have a fire and we could lose our home or even worse our lives and the lives of our pets. Finally, today I decided I would contact The insurance commissioner. However today doing the research to contact them is when I found out that a home warranty by American Home Shield is not regulated by the insurance commissioner. That it is actually not even true insurance. So now we are totally in shock because we were not aware of this. We thought that we had purchased some type of insurance warranty from an insurance company. So If they have collected so much money from us at this point, plus they're not regulated by the insurance commissioner then there's no way to get them to perform their service. If I want to take $57 and multiply it times nine years and add the $75 service fee they charged us, we could've bought a brand-new 5 ton central air conditioning for our home. However unfortunately since now at this time of my life, I am disabled and there is only one paycheck coming into our home, we could not afford to do anything else but continue to trust American Home Shield and believe that they would repaire what they were collecting a fee automatically from my bank account monthly for 9 years for. I'm not absolutely sure how many years, I am approximating at this time. Please take into consideration that we live in the state of Florida where there is no winter & high humidity for 12 months of the year.

Posted by

on
We have been paying American Home Shield over 9 years $57.00 a month now. 7months ago I called them & explained my central AC unit was leaking water to the first floor right on to our stove in our kitchen and also the thermostat was not working.
They said some one would come out & repair. They also informed me that instead of the $60 service fee it had gone up to $75 now, without ever notifying me. I did complain about the service fee going up and ask them if they legally were allowed to do that without ever letting us know and they said yes that it was illegal.
Someone contacted us and they came out to check the AC and the thermostat. I was not here at that time my husband stayed home to wait for them. We wrote them a check for $75 and the only thing the gentleman did was go around the house and explain to my husband how we could save money on our energy bill by fixing some holes or areas that were perhaps not airtight.
I came home and the AC had not been fixed and the broken thermostat was still there. My husband said that the man told him that was all American home shield told him to do. I told my husband that the electric company comes out to your house and gives you that information for free & you don't need American home Shield for that plus you don't need to pay $75 for someone to show you how to save on your energy bill.
I immediately called the gentleman and asked him why he did not repair anything in the central AC or install a new thermostat. He said American Home Shield did not mention to him that the AC was not working properly or there was a leak & not even put down on his work order form that the thermostat was broken. He said my AC was working good. I asked him why didn't he even notice the thermostat was broken & how could water coming out driping from 2nd floor on to our stove on 1st floor mean our AC was working good. He said he checked the filter and it was very clean. I explained that's why the AC leaking water must mean it's not working properly or its broken In some way. Otherwise I would not have called American Home Shield. I explained we change our filter every 3 weeks because we have pets. I told him I was going to call American Home Shield and get this straightened out. He asked me to please not call them back because this incident would fall back on him. He then said there must be a problem with the drainage of the AC needing to be flushed for some other reason or maybe just because it was an older AC unit that could cause some type of buildup inside the drain but that he would be over to flush the drain of AC & replace the thermostat within the next two days. All I understood is we always kept our AC very clean but leaking water on to our stove could be very dangerous. I told him he should have noticed that when he came out. He said not if American Home Shield did not put it on his work order form. He apologized and was very nice. So I did not call back American home Shield, at that time. I trusted that he would be back and do what he had said because I had already paid him.
The Gentlemen never showed up again.
I called him a few weeks later. He said yes he remembered but had been very busy. He asked me to call him again in a few days.
I finally called American Home Shield again & told them what occurred. They were upset with me and told me that I was never to contact their contractor directly. That I am only to speak to them, American home shield. I apologize & explained I never knew that. The lady at American Home Shield told me it was a good thing I had just called her again because that company had just put in to close the bill out because the job had been completed. She said they, American Home Shield, would get the problem taken care of and that I would be contacted again via phone. I was called again by a lady who told me that they would call to make an appointment with in another 24hrs. On Oct 14, I called again & on my THIRD call to American Home Shield I spoke to a Courtney. Again they would take care of this issue. Now I believe we have been waiting a total of over six months... more or less and I've heard from no one. our AC is still broken leaking water onto our stove in the kitchen and Our thermostat does not work, therefore we have gone through some very hot days but American home Shield has still been collecting it's fee every month plus the check for $75 that we paid the service man. Not only have we had to live under the circumstances that at moments we feel that we are in a sauna but there is also a fear that if the stove happens to be on at the moment that the AC leaks water we may have a fire and we could lose our home or even worse our lives and the lives of our pets. Finally, today I decided I would contact The insurance commissioner. However today doing the research to contact them is when I found out that a home warranty by American Home Shield is not regulated by the insurance commissioner. That it is actually not even true insurance. So now we are totally in shock because we were not aware of this. We thought that we had purchased some type of insurance warranty from an insurance company. So If they have collected so much money from us at this point, plus they're not regulated by the insurance commissioner then there's no way to get them to perform their service. If I want to take $57 and multiply it times nine years and add the $75 service fee they charged us, we could've bought a brand-new 5 ton central air conditioning for our home. However unfortunately since now at this time of my life, I am disabled and there is only one paycheck coming into our home, we could not afford to do anything else but continue to trust American Home Shield and believe that they would repaire what they were collecting a fee automatically from my bank account monthly for 9 years for. I'm not absolutely sure how many years, I am approximating at this time. Please take into consideration that we live in the state of Florida where there is no winter & high humidity for 12 months of the year.

Posted by

on
We were told everything in the house is covered when we purchased the insurance. Our Hose bibs started leaking which is one of the main items listed in what is covered. We have received three different answers from different representatives as to why they are not covered.

1) Hose bibs not covered because they would have to be upgraded to meet code. Insurance does not cover anything that needs upgraded.

2) Hose bibs on outside of house not covered period. Only hose bibs for washer are covered.

3) Hose bibs are not covered because plumbing is under the house. Nothing under the house is covered.

Take a look at the reviews for this company. It is overwhelmingly the same reviews no matter what internet site you look at. I understand most people that are unhappy write the reviews but they have a huge amount of negative reviews compared to others.

Below is just one example.
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/insurance/am_home.html

Stay Away from this company. I'm guessing if you are reading this you already got suckered into buying a useless insurance program from them.

Posted by

on
Citimortgage offered the extended home warranty through American Home Sheild an we took it. Our home is over 30 years old and we thought it would be a good investment and give us peace of mind. How can we get ur money back for misrepreentation/

Posted by

on
It has always appeared that American Home Shield is not an insurance company because insurance companies will normally pay out for a covered problem where as American Home Shield just wants you to give them money under the pretence that they will pay for items that go wrong with your home but they really won't!

AHS has been stealing from people for a very long time and it is time that they get whats comming to them!

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