American Home Shield History
American Home Shield is a provider of home warranty coverage, a service that bears some resemblances to traditional homeowner's insurance, but has some key differences. AHS was perhaps the first company to offer home warranties, getting its start in the industry in the early 1970s, and it is currently owned by the ServiceMaster family of brands.
Types of Coverage Provided by American Home Shield
The home warranty industry protects your home appliances, HVAC and plumbing systems from normal wear and tear. This is an important difference from property insurance, which doesn't pay for the "deterioration" of appliances nor fix a leaky kitchen faucet. For example, property insurance could pay to replace a water heater that burned down in a fire, but it wouldn't cover a water heater that simply got old and stopped working. If you are particularly concerned about wear and tear on your appliances or systems, home warranty services could be an attractive insurance choice. AHS covers a broad range of home appliances and systems. The company's basic coverage includes:
- Heating system
- Plumbing and plumbing stoppages
- Electrical system
- Water heater
- Ceiling fans
- Built-in microwave
- Garbage disposal
- Range, oven, cooktop
- Central air conditioning, refrigerator, washer/dryer, garage door opener
- Pool only
- An additional spa (if you have already bought pool or spa coverage)
- Spa only
- Well pump
The basic plan can be bought not only by homeowners, but also by real estate agents. In some markets, home sellers will pay the first-year premium for the buyers. It would also be beneficial to apartment owners and real estate developers, who could use it to cover multiple units.
One thing to watch out for is the AHS contract's stipulation that appliances must be "properly maintained and installed" throughout the course of the contract. Therefore, if one of your appliances breaks down because of neglect on your part, it is conceivable that your home warranty may not cover it. Remember, home warranty coverage is not an excuse to neglect taking proper care of your appliances, and it is in the best interest of warranty providers to be strict in enforcing their contracts.
You can read the standard AHS contract on the company's website, www.ahswarranty.com.
American Home Shield's Costs and Fees
The cost of AHS coverage depends on such features as your house's ZIP code, square footage and year of construction, but it is typically between $30 and $40 a month. For example, basic coverage for a house under 5,000 square feet in the 90024 ZIP code, built in 2000, would cost $356 a year. Getting a warranty on additional items would break down as follows:
- Central air conditioning, refrigerator, washer/dryer, garage door opener: $120
- Pool only: $160
- An additional spa (if you have already bought pool or spa coverage): $160
- Spa only: $160
- Well pump: $80
In exchange for these premiums, AHS will arrange repair trips to your property to fix the malfunctioning items. There are separate deductibles for each individual item you report.
AHS can be reached by mail at:
American Home Shield
PO Box 849
Carroll, IA 51401-9901
The company's telephone number is 1-800-827-4636. AHS can also be e-mailed via their website.Photo: ©Big Stock Photo
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.