TULSA, Okla. — To protect against a big bill when a major appliance, heat and air, or plumbing problem pop up, many home-owners buy home warranty policies.
The policies are intended to cover some or most of the cost of repairs or replacement. But, if you don't carefully check the fine print for exclusions or coverage caps you could be in for a unwelcome surprise when you try to use the policy.
"Choice Home Warranty" of New Jersey sold home warranty policies in Oklahoma and many other states.
The 2 Works for You Problem Solvers found multiple complaints against the company with Oklahoma's Insurance Department and the Better Business Bureau.
Many complaints involve customers who claimed Choice Home Warranty either didn't make repairs or didn't pay their claim.
We also discovered that OID had issued three cease and desist orders against Choice Home Warranty over the past decade for selling its warranties in Oklahoma without a license.
The Department also fined the company nearly $40,000. But, that's not all according to Deputy Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Mike Rhoads, "We have required them to pay for these claims to hold these consumers harmless. To make refunds on their warranty policies also."
Shannon Spainhour, Vice President, Better Business Bureau of Tulsa sent this statement: "Choice Home Warranty, headquartered in New Jersey, has had 5,280 complaints filed against them in the past three years; of those complaints, 61 were filed from consumers living in Oklahoma - 20 of those 61 are located in Northeast Oklahoma."
BBB of New Jersey reports that the business has responded to and either resolved or answered the complaints; they also identified an advertising concern to which the business responded and modified its advertising.
BBB also reports that the state of Arizona has a pending lawsuit against the business, alleging, " Choice Home Warranty collected millions from Arizona consumers, but used contract exclusions, payment caps, and bad-faith refusals to avoid paying for repairs."
BBB offers these tips to consumers looking to purchase a home warranty.
- Make sure you are doing everything you need to ensure your warranty is not voided (for instance, not changing the filter regularly may void the furnace's warranty).
- As with any contract, it's essential that you read the warranty carefully to understand what is covered and for how long, who's responsible for finding someone to make the repairs, and how to resolve a dispute if something goes wrong.
- Do your homework; research the warranty business on BBB.org and read consumer complaints and reviews
What if something does go wrong?
File your claim as specified in the warranty; and keep copies of all correspondence with the company, as well as notes on any conversations.
Research the business doing the work. Whether you find the proper repair professional or the warranty company provides one, check out the contractor on bbb.org before letting them work in your home. Some warranty companies automatically go with the cheapest provider; that may be a good deal for them, not you.
Know your rights. If there is an issue over coverage or whether the work has been done improperly, many warranties provide for mediation and arbitration. Sometimes you have to pay a fee for these services; you could even end up going to court. Read your warranty carefully to understand how issues are resolved and what you may end up paying.
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