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Home Warranty vs. Home Insurance: What’s the Difference?

May. 24, 2024

Home Warranty vs. Home Insurance: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to protecting your home, both home warranties and home insurance play crucial roles, but they serve different purposes. Understanding these differences can help you make informed decisions about safeguarding your property and managing potential costs. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what home warranties and home insurance cover, their benefits, and how they complement each other to provide robust protection for your home.

What is a Home Warranty?

A home warranty is a service contract that covers the repair or replacement of major home systems and appliances that break down due to normal wear and tear. These typically include the following breakdown.

HVAC systems

Heating Systems
  • Furnaces: Coverage usually includes the main unit, burners, heat exchangers, blower motors, and other essential components.
  • Boilers: Most home warranties cover the repair or replacement of major boiler components such as burners, heat exchangers, and controls.
  • Heat Pumps: These are often covered, including the compressor, refrigerant, and other critical parts.
  • Ductwork: Some plans include coverage for ductwork, addressing issues like leaks and blockages that affect heating efficiency.
Ventilation Systems
  • Ventilation Fans: Bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans may be covered, ensuring proper ventilation in these areas.
  • Air Exchangers: Some warranties cover air exchangers, which help maintain indoor air quality.
Air Conditioning Systems
  • Central Air Conditioning Units: Coverage typically includes the compressor, condenser coils, evaporator coils, refrigerant, and other key components.
  • Mini-Split Systems: These systems may also be covered, including indoor and outdoor units.
  • Thermostats: Some home warranties cover programmable and non-programmable thermostats.

Electrical systems

Major Components
  • Wiring: Coverage includes repairs to electrical wiring within the walls of the home. This typically encompasses both copper and aluminum wiring, addressing issues such as shorts, ground faults, and damaged wires.
  • Electrical Panels: Main electrical panels, sub-panels, and circuit breaker panels are usually covered. This includes the replacement or repair of circuit breakers and fuses.
  • Outlets and Switches: Coverage includes standard electrical outlets, GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets, and light switches. This ensures that issues like faulty outlets, non-functioning switches, and short circuits are addressed.
  • Ceiling Fans: Many home warranties cover ceiling fans, including their motors, controls, and wiring. This is useful for dealing with fan malfunctions or complete failures.
Lighting Fixtures
  • Interior Lighting: Coverage often extends to interior lighting fixtures, ensuring that problems with wiring or connections within the fixture are addressed.
  • Exterior Lighting: Some plans may also cover exterior lighting fixtures, particularly those attached to the home, such as porch lights or garage lights.
Doorbell Systems
  • Standard Doorbells: Standard doorbell systems, including wiring and chimes, are typically covered.
  • Intercom Systems: Some home warranties include intercom systems, which provide communication capabilities between different parts of the house.
Exhaust Fans
  • Bathroom Exhaust Fans: Coverage often includes bathroom exhaust fans, addressing issues like motor failures or wiring problems.
  • Kitchen Exhaust Fans: Kitchen exhaust fans, which help remove cooking fumes and smoke, are also typically covered.

Plumbing systems

Plumbing Pipes
  • Interior Plumbing Pipes: Coverage usually includes repairs to leaks and breaks in the interior plumbing pipes, addressing issues such as pipe bursts, leaks, and corrosion.
  • Drain Lines: Coverage often includes drain line clogs and stoppages within the home, ensuring that blockages in sinks, tubs, and showers are addressed.
Plumbing Fixtures
  • Faucets and Fixtures: Most home warranties cover the repair or replacement of faucets and fixtures in kitchens and bathrooms, addressing issues like leaks, drips, and malfunctions.
  • Toilets: Coverage typically includes toilets, addressing issues with flushing mechanisms, leaks, and other operational problems.
Water Heaters
  • Traditional Tank Water Heaters: Coverage generally includes the repair or replacement of traditional tank water heaters, covering components like burners, thermostats, and valves.
  • Tankless Water Heaters: Some home warranties also cover tankless water heaters, including their heating elements and other critical parts.
Plumbing-Related Appliances
  • Garbage Disposals: Home warranties usually cover garbage disposals, addressing issues like motor failures and jams.
  • Instant Hot Water Dispensers: Coverage often includes instant hot water dispensers, addressing malfunctions and leaks.

Sump Pumps

  • Sump Pumps: Many home warranties cover sump pumps, which are essential for preventing basement flooding, including issues with the motor and float switch.
Plumbing Venting
  • Vent Lines: Coverage may include plumbing vent lines, ensuring proper airflow and drainage within the plumbing system.
Plumbing Stoppages
  • Clearing of Blockages: Home warranties often cover the clearing of stoppages in drain and sewer lines up to a certain distance from the access point (typically around 100 feet).

Water heaters

Types of Water Heaters Covered
  • Traditional Tank Water Heaters: Most home warranties cover traditional tank water heaters, which store and heat a large volume of water.
  • Tankless Water Heaters: Many home warranties also cover tankless water heaters, which heat water on demand without storing it.
Covered Components
  • Thermostats: Thermostats regulate the temperature of the water and are crucial for the heater’s operation. Coverage typically includes the repair or replacement of faulty thermostats.
  • Heating Elements: The heating elements, whether electric or gas burners, that heat the water are usually covered. This includes issues like element burnouts or malfunctions.
  • Valves: Various valves, such as temperature and pressure relief valves, drain valves, and gas control valves, are typically covered under a home warranty.
  • Ignition System: For gas water heaters, the ignition system, including pilot light and electronic ignition components, is often covered.
  • Internal Components: Internal components like the dip tube, anode rod, and other essential parts that contribute to the water heater’s functionality are generally included.
  • Electrical or Gas Connections: Coverage usually extends to the electrical or gas connections necessary for the water heater to operate.
  • Tank Leaks: Some home warranties may cover tank leaks, but this can vary by provider. It’s important to check specific terms as this can be a significant expense.
Additional Features
  • Expansion Tanks: Expansion tanks, which help manage water pressure and prevent damage to the water heater and plumbing system, might be covered by some home warranty plans.
  • Timers and Controls: Timers and control systems that manage the operation and efficiency of the water heater can also be covered.

Kitchen Appliances

Major Kitchen Appliances Covered
  • Refrigerators: Coverage typically includes the main refrigerator unit, addressing issues with the compressor, evaporator, condenser, and other mechanical parts. Built-in ice makers and water dispensers are often included, covering components like the ice maker motor and dispenser control board.
  • Ovens, Ranges, and Cooktops: Both gas and electric models are usually covered, including issues with the heating elements, burners, igniters, and controls. Range hoods and exhaust fans, which are essential for ventilation, are often included in the coverage.
  • Dishwashers: Coverage includes the main dishwasher unit, addressing problems with the motor, pump, heating elements, and control board.
  • Microwaves (Built-In): Built-in microwaves are typically covered, including issues with the magnetron, door switches, turntable motor, and control panel.
  • Garbage Disposals: Coverage usually includes the motor and related components of the garbage disposal unit.
  • Trash Compactors: Some home warranties cover built-in trash compactors, addressing issues with the motor, RAM assembly, and controls.
Additional Features and Components
  • Control Boards and Timers: The electronic control boards and timers in various kitchen appliances are often covered, addressing issues that affect the functionality and operation of the appliances.
  • Thermostats and Sensors: Thermostats, sensors, and other temperature control components in ovens, refrigerators, and dishwashers are generally covered.
  • Motors and Pumps: Motors and pumps that drive the operation of appliances like dishwashers and garbage disposals are typically included in the coverage.

Laundry appliances

Major Laundry Appliances Covered
  • Washing Machines: Coverage typically includes the main washing machine unit, addressing issues with the drum, motor, belts, pumps, and electronic controls. Other components like the lid switch, water inlet valve, and agitator (in top-loading models) are also generally covered.
  • Dryers: Both gas and electric dryers are usually covered, including issues with the heating element, drum, motor, belts, and electronic controls. Coverage often extends to the dryer vent system, addressing problems with blockages and vent-related components.
Covered Components
  • Motors: The motor, which drives the operation of both washers and dryers, is typically covered, addressing issues like motor failure or burnout.
  • Belts and Pulleys: Belts and pulleys that help the drum in the washer or dryer turn are generally included in the coverage.
  • Pumps and Valves: In washing machines, water pumps and valves that control the flow of water into and out of the machine are usually covered.
  • Heating Elements: In dryers, the heating elements (both electric and gas) that generate the heat necessary for drying clothes are typically covered.
  • Control Boards and Timers: Electronic control boards and timers that manage the operation cycles of washers and dryers are often included in the coverage.
  • Thermostats and Sensors: Thermostats and sensors that regulate temperature and moisture levels in dryers are generally covered.
  • Seals and Gaskets: Seals and gaskets that prevent leaks and ensure the proper functioning of the appliance are often covered, especially in washing machines.
Additional Features and Components
  • Lint Screens and Traps: Some home warranties may cover issues related to lint screens and traps, particularly in dryers.
  • Dispensers: Detergent and fabric softener dispensers in washing machines might be covered for malfunctions or clogs.
  • Door Locks and Switches: Door locks and switches, which are critical for the safe operation of both washers and dryers, are typically included in the coverage.

Benefits of a Home Warranty

Cost Savings: Home warranties can save homeowners significant amounts of money on costly repairs and replacements. Convenience: When a covered item breaks down, the warranty provider arranges for a qualified service technician to address the issue. Peace of Mind: Knowing that major home systems and appliances are covered can reduce the stress of unexpected breakdowns.

What is Home Insurance?

Home insurance, or homeowner’s insurance, is a policy that provides financial protection against a variety of risks and damages to your home and personal belongings. It typically covers:

  • Structural damage: Damage to the house structure from perils like fire, wind, hail, and theft. Personal property: Loss or damage to personal belongings inside the home.
  • Liability protection: Coverage if someone is injured on your property and sues for damages.
  • Additional living expenses: Costs associated with living elsewhere temporarily if your home becomes uninhabitable due to a covered event.

Benefits of Home Insurance

Comprehensive Protection: Covers a wide range of risks, providing broad financial security. Liability Coverage: Protects against lawsuits for injuries or property damage. Mortgage Requirement: Often a requirement by mortgage lenders to protect their investment.

Key Differences Between Home Warranty and Home Insurance

While both home warranties and home insurance provide essential protections, they are fundamentally different in terms of what they cover and their purpose.

Home WarrantyHome Insurance
Coverage ScopeCovers repair or replacement of major home systems and appliances due to wear and tear.Covers damage to the home and personal belongings from specific perils and provides liability protection.
Trigger EventsActivated by the breakdown of covered items from normal use.Activated by damage or loss from external events like fires, storms, theft, or accidents.
Claims ProcessHomeowners contact the warranty provider, which then sends a technician to assess and fix the problem. The homeowner typically pays a service fee.Homeowners file a claim with their insurance company, which then assesses the damage and issues a payout based on the policy’s coverage and deductible.
Cost StructureUsually involves an annual premium and a service fee for each claim.Involves an annual premium and a deductible that must be met before coverage kicks in.
When to useNew Homeowners: Those who want extra protection as they settle into a new home.
Owners of Older Homes: Homes with aging systems and appliances that are more likely to break down.
Budget-Conscious Homeowners: Those looking to avoid large, unexpected repair bills.
All Homeowners: To protect against significant financial losses from damage or liability.
Mortgage Holders: Since it is often required by lenders.
Homeowners in High-Risk Areas: Those in regions prone to natural disasters or with higher crime rates.
Example scenario:

Consider a situation where a severe storm causes a tree to fall on your home, damaging the roof and some electrical wiring. 
This would cover the cost of repairing the roof and any related structural damage, as well as replacing damaged personal property and potentially covering additional living expenses if you need to temporarily relocate.This would cover the repair of the electrical system, provided the damage resulted from wear and tear and not from the storm itself (depending on the specifics of your warranty plan).
Table 1 – Differences between Home Warranty and Home Insurance

Complementary Nature of Home Warranty and Home Insurance

While home warranties and home insurance serve different purposes, they complement each other to provide comprehensive protection. A home warranty covers the breakdown of systems and appliances due to normal use, while home insurance protects against significant financial losses from external perils and liability issues. Having both can ensure that you are protected from a wide range of potential issues.

Tips for Choosing the Right Coverage

Evaluating Home Warranty Plans

1. Assess Your Needs: Consider the age and condition of your home’s systems and appliances.

2. Compare Providers: Look at different companies, their coverage options, and customer reviews.

3. Read the Fine Print: Understand what is covered, what is excluded, and any limitations on coverage.

Selecting Home Insurance Policies

1. Determine Coverage Requirements: Assess the value of your home and belongings, and understand the risks in your area.

2. Compare Quotes: Get multiple quotes to find the best coverage at a competitive price.

3. Understand Policy Terms: Know the deductible, coverage limits, and any exclusions.


In summary, both home warranties and home insurance play critical roles in protecting your home, but they address different needs. A home warranty provides coverage for the repair or replacement of essential home systems and appliances due to normal wear and tear, offering peace of mind and financial protection against unexpected breakdowns. Home insurance, on the other hand, offers comprehensive protection against structural damage, personal property loss, and liability issues resulting from various external perils.

For the best protection, homeowners should consider having both a home warranty and home insurance. This dual approach ensures that you are covered for a wide range of potential issues, providing complete peace of mind and financial security for your home.

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