Home warranties are falling short, Central Florida homeowners say​

Consumer advocate says home warranty shouldn't be considered an insurance policy

By Louis Bolden

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. - Home warranties are supposed to bring peace of mind. You pay your premiums and you expect the company to repair or replace your appliances when something goes wrong.

But some Central Floridians are saying that's not happening.

"I have tell you, I call it corporate bullying," Jan Arnett told News 6's investigator Louis Bolden.

When Arnett's air-conditioning unit went out after Hurricane Matthew, he was confident his home warranty would kick it in, but months later, he is still trying to have it replaced.

"They're trying to charge me almost $2,100 for a $3,000 unit," Arnett said.

When Arnett made his claim, he says the company hit him with a number of "non-covered" charges.

But Flagler County employees notified Arnett and News 6 that a number of the items the company is charging for are no longer required in Florida's building code.

"They’re thinking the consumer is not going to wake up and read their contract," Arnett said.

Arnett has now filed a complaint with Florida's Attorney General, and we found other complaints about the same company.

An Orlando woman complained she had to speak with "11 agents" and went more than two weeks in August without air and the company would not tell her when her unit would be either replaced or repaired.

Another person complained of spending six days with a broken water heater and still having no resolution.
Holly Salmons with the Better Business Bureau says she gets complaints from consumers regarding their home warranty all the time.

"The problem comes with the company either denying their claim, or the policy didn't live up to what the consumer thought they were getting," Salmons said."You should not consider a home warranty as an insurance policy."

Nationally, the industry's image has taken a hit over the last couple of years.

One company paid $780,000 to settle a lawsuit with the state of New Jersey after being accused of using "deceptive tactics" to deny consumers claims.

Arnett says he foresees more lawsuits down the line.

"This is what class action lawsuits are built on," he said. "I want to not just look out for my pocketbook, but for everybody else in the state of Florida."

If you're thinking about getting a home warranty, the Better Business Bureau says there are some things to consider.

What will it cost per month? What's the amount of the deductible? Is there a service fee?

Also be clear on what it covers and what it doesn’t, and know the steps to file a claim before you have to do it.

Consumer Reports suggests you take the money you would pay on a monthly warranty, save it, and use it for any appliances you might need to repair or replace.

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