First American Home Warranty Review

First American Home Warranty Review

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8.5/10 (Expert Score)
Product is rated as #2 in category Home Warranty Reviews
PROS:
  • Trustworthiness
  • Reputation
  • Accessibility
  • Affordable basic plans
  • Competitive cap payout rates
  • Unlimited service call-outs
  • High-quality contractors
  • First America includes issues not covered by standard home warranties
CONS:
  • Not fully available nationwide
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Customers may only use First American-approved contractors
  • Repair and replacement of certain items are dependent on the availability of parts
  • The basic plan has limited coverage
  • Higher than average number of customer complaints
  • Speculations about lax data security

Who Is the First American Corporation?

First American Finance Corporation’s roots go deep. Founded in 1889, when Orange County split from the county of Los Angeles, two firms were created to handle title deeds in the brand-new county. Merging in1909, the companies unified under the banner of Orange County Title Company C.E. In 1964, and were renamed First American Finance Corporation as a holding company and extended their reach beyond Orange county.

First American Trust company branched off from the First American Finance Corporation and, in 1988, began to extend its reach on a global scale. The company then diversified its services into eight different divisions of which First American Home Warranty emerged in 1984.

First American claims that they covered more than $177 million in repairs and replacements in 2019, with over 63% of their covered clients requesting repair/replacement services. First American Home Warranty is available in 34 states and has paid out more than 1 billion dollars in claims since 2012.

What is the First American Home Warranty?

America First Home Warranty is a service contract that covers home appliance system repair and replacement that are renewable each year. The company offers two to three tiers of household coverage to suit homeowners’ specific needs, depending on state and real estate plans. These are:

  • Basic
  • Value plus
  • Eagle Premier

America first Home Warranty also provides the option of further coverage at an additional cost to the above three plans and include:

  • Central air conditioning
  • Pool/Spa
  • Clothes washer and dryer
  • Refrigeration
  • Well pump
  • Septic tank/pumping system.

The coverage waiting period is thirty days, and you may not use your own contractor unless the company grants permission.

Coverage Basic Value plus Eagle Premier

 

Heating ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Duct work ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Electrical System ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Garage Door Openers ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Attic, Ceiling, and Exhaust Fans ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Central Vacuum System ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Plumbing System ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Plumbing Stoppages ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Toilet Tanks and Bowls ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Water Heater ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Circulating Pump ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Sump Pump ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Pressure Regulators ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Built-in Microwave ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Dishwasher ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Oven/Range/Cooktop ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Garbage Disposal ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Instant Hot Water Dispenser ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Trash Compactor ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Re-Key Service ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Pest Control Services ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Central AC (electric) $80 ✔️ ✔️
Clothes Washer and Dryer $80 $80 ✔️
Kitchen Refrigerator $50 $50 ✔️
Washer/Dryer/Kitchen Refrigerator $120 $120 $120
Additional Refrigeration $50 $50 $50
Limited Roof Leak $100 $100 $100
Ornamental Fountain $80 $80 $80
Outdoor Kitchen $100 $100 $100
Pool/Spa Equipment $170 $170 $170
HVAC Tune-up $35 $35 $35
Septic Tank Pumping/System $75 $75 $75
Sewage Ejector Pump $35 $35 $35
Smart Home Devices $75 $75 $75
Water Softener $65 $65 $65
Well Pump $85 $85 $85

First American Home Warranty Real Estate Plans

First American Home Warranty offers a specialized contract for real estate agents to provide coverage for unexpected repairs after buying a new home. Sellers may also benefit from this policy to protect themselves from liability for systems or appliance failures that emerge after the sale of the property. 

Basic plans are an excellent option for both buyers and sellers. There are optional first-class upgrades available for a seller to include heating, ductwork, and air-conditioning systems. Optional coverage for buyers can extend the covered items, including refrigeration, washing machine, dryer, pool, and spa operations, and septic tank/well pump options.

Benefits of First American Warranty to the Buyer:

  • Protection from costly repairs that they might not be aware of at purchase
  • Easy access to pre-vetted and skilled contractors for speedy and high-quality repairs

First American Warranty benefits for the Seller

  • A home warranty may be a selling point to buyers and give agents a competitive edge
  • Reduces the possibility of post-sale liabilities and costly claims from a buyer
  • Your warranty covers your home during the listing period.

Repair and Replacement Benefits of Real Estate Warranty Plans

  • First American will repair or replace your client’s covered systems or appliances
  • Your client may make use of the 24/7 service department whenever breakages occur
  • The age and brand of the items under warranty are irrelevant, and the warranty covers less visible damages such as rust, corrosion, sediments, or poor maintenance.

The basic Real Estate Plan Covers: 

Coverage Seller Buyer

 

Attic and Exhaust Fans ✔️ ✔️
Ceiling Fans ✔️ ✔️
Central Air Conditioning ✔️ ✔️
Central Vacuum System ✔️ ✔️
Circulating Pumps ✔️ ✔️
Dishwasher ✔️ ✔️
Duct work ✔️ ✔️
Electrical ✔️ ✔️
Garage Door Openers ✔️ ✔️
Garbage Disposal ✔️ ✔️
Heating ✔️ ✔️
Instant Hot Water Dispenser ✔️ ✔️
Kitchen Refrigerator ✔️ ✔️
Microwave Oven (Built-in only) ✔️ ✔️
Oven/Range/Cooktop ✔️ ✔️
Plumbing ✔️ ✔️
Plumbing Stoppages ✔️ ✔️
Pressure Regulators ✔️ ✔️
Re-Key Service ✔️
Sump Pumps ✔️ ✔️
Toilet Tanks and Bowls ✔️ ✔️
Trash Compactor ✔️ ✔️
Water Heater ✔️ ✔️

 

Additional coverage for real estate warranties, at an additional cost, include:
 

Coverage Seller Buyer

 

Additional Refrigeration ✔️
Clothes Washer and Dryer ✔️
First Class Upgrade ✔️ ✔️
Pool/Spa Equipment ✔️
Septic Tank Pumping/System ✔️
Well Pump ✔️

 

What Repairs/Replacements Does First American Home Warranty Not Cover?

First American Home Warranty Does not Cover:

Modifications and changes for new equipment

When a homeowner needs repairs and replacement on existing items, First American is not liable for modifications and changes required for new equipment. For example, if a replacement item is of a different size or if building codes have changed since they installed the item.

For example, if an older water heater breaks, the company will provide a replacement heater with similar features or capacity. However, the company is not liable for the costs incurred in bringing the new device up to code or accommodating the new item to the old system’s dimensions.

Home systems/appliances that are already broken

The company does not cover pre-existing conditions that were broken before the contract was taken out by the client. Some real estate contracts would cover clients for pre-existing breakages or failures if they did not discover the defect until after the sale.

Secondary damages when appliances/systems break

Home insurance covers the structure of a home. In contrast, home warranties cater to the appliances and systems within the home. For instance, if a broken dishwasher causes your home to flood, First American is liable for the cost of repairing or replacing the dishwasher but not the secondary water damage incurred in the malfunction.

Other issues exclude from First American Warranty

  • Mold
  • Pest Damage
  • Theft
  • Storms/Lightning
  • Flood/earthquake
  • Improper installation
  • Misuse
  • Roof leaks
  • Tree damage
  • Cosmetic defects (scratches dents in appliances)
  • Items covered by a manufacturer warranty

First Class Upgrades extended cover

When upgrading your existing plan to a first-class upgrade, First American offers clients additional cover of:

  • Removal of old appliance/systems
  • Corrections to improper installation
  • Building permits
  • Correction of building code violations

Other issues exclude from First American Warranty

  • Mold
  • Pest Damage
  • Theft
  • Storms/Lightning
  • Flood/earthquake
  • Improper installation
  • Misuse
  • Roof leaks
  • Tree damage
  • Cosmetic defects (scratches dents in appliances)
  • Items covered by a manufacturer warranty

What Payout Caps Does First American Home Warranty impose?

Item Cap
Kitchen Appliances $3,500 per item
Water heater $1,500
Central air conditioning $1,500
Items in/below a concrete slab $500
Saltwater pool/spa equipment $1,500
Well pump $1,500
Code violation correction $250
Steam/heated/glycol heating $1,500
Seller’s heating/Central air conditioning/Ductwork $1,500
Septic tank system $500
Toilet replacement under upgrade $300
Kitchen refrigerator (incl.built in and icemaker) $2,500

What Exclusions Does the First American Home Warranty include?

There is quite an exhaustive list of exclusions involved in a First American Warranty, and they may be found in the sample contract:

https://homewarranty.firstam.com/media/contracts/Y5NE.B.pdf

Prices for a standard single-family home of fewer than 5000 feet:

State Basic Premier

 

Florida $32 per month; $348 per year $43.50 per month; $486 per year
California $28 per month; $300 per year $42.50 per month; $474 per year
Maryland $32 per month; $348 per year $43.50 per month; $486 per year

What additional costs are there?

There is a standard service fee for any call out to your home for repairs of $75 per visit (not including follow up appointments. There is also a $3 handling fee which the company will waive if the client pays their yearly contract fee in full.

Repair Time and Customer Service

First American attempts to have repairmen at the source of a problem within 4 hours of the request (within regular working hours.) Contractors should be on your premises within 48 hours to conduct repairs. If the request is an emergency, the company will attempt to provide services in a shorter space of time. Still, non-emergency requests outside of regular service hours will carry an additional cost.

To request customer service or register a claim, First American provides round the clock assistance via phone assistance of online submission.

Service Department: 800-992-3400

Online service requests: https://homewarranty.firstam.com/#/login

To purchase a plan or generate a quote, homeowners, or real estate professionals may call 800-444-9030 or submit a request online.

On What Grounds Can First American Deny Your Claim?

There are legitimate grounds on which First American might reject your claims. Homeowners must be savvy and ensure that all the requirements are met when applying for repairs or replacement items under warranty. Items that will be denied a claim are as follows: 

  • Your item/system was not included under the First American warranty.

More than most home warranty companies, First American has quite an exhaustive list of exclusions in both the basic and premier cover plans. Make sure that you read the fine print of your contract to ensure that the item is covered. For example, air-conditioning units do not fall under the existing plan coverage (it is available as a cover at an additional price.)

  • Your contract has fallen into arrears

If you have fallen behind on your scheduled payments, you may no longer qualify to submit a claim under your warranty contract. 

  • You have exceeded your contract cap 

Although the First American has higher contract caps on items and systems in your home cover, they will not exceed the cap amount included in your contract. Repeated repairs for the same item can not exceed the stated cap amount in one given year.

  • You have not met the standards set by First America

The company may deny items or systems that have fallen into disrepair through neglect or misuse.

What States Is First American Home Warranty Available?

First American Home Warranty is available nationwide except for the following states:

  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin

What Are the Key Benefits of a First American Home Warranty?

#1. Protect your budget.

Crucial home systems or appliances break down all the time. When you have no warranty, those necessary costs will be coming straight from your pocket, and they may happen when you have a low savings buffer. Repairs and replacements can be very costly and can put you out of budget when least expected. A First American Home warranty can be a buffer against sudden expenses and give the homeowner peace of mind.

#.2 Better Protection

A home warranty can complement your home insurance policy by covering appliances and systems not included in your general household insurance.

#3. A home warranty may save you time and effort

First American Home Warranty has pre-vetted and selected the best local contractors and specialists in your area waiting on standby. You merely have to give the 24/7 customer service agents the details of your system or appliance, and they will send out their contractors within hours. This service saves you time and also protects you from sub-standard contractors who may deliver poor performance.

#4. Saves you money

When First American sends out their contractors to assess and repair your covered items if the repairs or replacement are less than your cover limits (Cap), you will only be charged the initial call-out fee of $75. With generous caps on such covered appliances as kitchen items of up to $3,500 per item, you may end up with a new $3,500 device for just $75.

First American home warranty FAQ

How Do I Claim for an Item/System Repair?

#1. Verify and Review your coverage 

Your First American contract will outline what falls under your warranty cover and what does not. In the contract itself, the items/systems are divided into subheadings where you may find the particular coverage limitations, caps, and exclusions of individual items/systems.

You must take into account the specified service fee amount for a call out, which is $75 a call, and make sure that the item you need to be repaired or replaced does not fall under the exclusion list.

The item/system declared cap amount would allow you to estimate the cost above the warranty allowance. Suppose the cap amount on a central air conditioning system is $1,500, and the estimated replacement/repair costs are $3,000. In that case, you will be responsible for paying the service fee of $75 and the surplus expenses of $1,500, so necessarily you would owe $1,575 excess.

Ensure that the condition of the system/item was not a pre-existing condition that occurred before the 30-day contract activation period had passed. 

#2. Request a service call out to file a warranty claim

You may contact First American’s customer service line 24/7 at 800-992-3400 or submit an online form on https://homewarranty.firstam.com/#/login. First American aims to provide a service call out within 4 hours of a claim request unless it is outside regular working hours. In cases of emergencies, the company may expedite the process.

Once a service call out request is registered with the company, it will activate the formal claim warranty process. You may be asked to explain the problem in some detail with the online service provider and have the brand, model number, and age handy for the item/system under claim. 

Once the damages have been inspected, the company will decide whether it will repair or replace an item and will usually choose the less expensive of the two alternatives. 

In this process, be aware that First American contains the restriction that payment for replacement items will be based on rates negotiated with suppliers and not on the retail price of the item/system. The company has the right to request a second opinion on a proposed replacement/repair rate if they feel that it is higher than the mean average. 

#3. Payment of the service fee and any excess

Once the company sends the contractor for the repair, you will pay him/her the clout fee of $75, and the repairs/replacement should incur no further charge. If the repair amount exceeds the cap on the particular item, you will be liable for the excess amount on repair/replacement. First American will then reimburse the contractor for the amount of the repair or the replacement of the faulty item.

When Should You Avoid Doing When You Submit a Home Warranty Claim?

Do not submit claims for pre-existing faults in an item system and make sure that the item is not on the first American exclusion list. For example, when dealing with a refrigerator unit, the contract exclusions are specified on the contract.  An example is in the  Kitchen Refrigeration section of the contract: All parts are included except

  • Insulation
  • Racks
  • Shelves
  • Drawers
  • Tracks
  • Handles
  • Lights
  • Ice crusher
  • Beverage dispensers
  • Interior thermal shells
  • Food spoilage
  • Standalone fridges outside kitchen
  • Refrigerant reclaim and disposal.

Do not arrange for your own contractor to conduct an assessment or make repairs. First American would not reimburse you for costs accrued from external contractors without their specific permission, even if the system/item was under the company warranty.

 What is the Difference Between a Home Warranty and Home Insurance?

Home insurance and home warranties often complement each other and shouldn’t be thought of as mutually exclusive. The primary differences between the two are: 

A homeowner’s insurance policy covers damage to the home’s structural integrity and includes “Acts of God” such as storms, flood fire, lightning, and earthquakes. The insurance policy usually covers both exterior damage and theft loss and damage to personal property.

Home insurance is mandatory and required by banks before issuing a mortgage for a home. Insurance is generally paid annually and has a standard charge for each claim over which you pay the excess amount. If, for instance, if your toilet broke, the insurance would cover all the secondary damage (floors, ceiling, all damage.) 

The claims are assessed by an insurance adjuster who oversees the validity of a claim and assesses the damage incurred. Once the loss is determined, the insurance company will pay you out what is owed once your deductible has been taken from the total.

A home warranty is a service contract that provides repair or replacement of items/systems that fail due to age, wear, and tear. A home warranty is not mandatory as home insurance and works well with an existing home insurance policy to cover specific items. Home warranties are concerned only with the items/systems themselves and do not concern themselves with secondary damages.

For instance, in the same broken toilet scenario, First American would fix the toilet (If it was under your warranty cover). They would not repair any secondary damage caused by the concurrent water damage or ceiling damage if the damage was upstairs.

The two systems work exceptionally well together for integrated protection of your home and goods.

First American Home Warranty Pros

☆Trustworthiness

Being an established household name, First American Finance Corporation has a long track record in providing services to the United States. After 36 years of operation, First American Home Warranty is one of the most trustworthy home warranty services in the business.

☆Reputation

First American has a solid reputation as a service provider to American homeowners and has a BBB rating of B+ as well as the Fortune 500 Best Companies to Work For 2019. 

☆Accessibility

First American Home Warranty has dedicated service staff for 24/7 customer care. They also have an online claim portal and Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts and can be contacted for queries on the Messenger platform.

Within the past three years, First American customer support has resolved over 3,000 customer complaints registered with the Better Business Bureau (BBB.)

☆Affordable basic plans

First American has a very competitively priced primary coverage option from only $28 per month. This price makes the plan accessible to a broader demographic of homeowners than many other coverage plans. The price of their basic plan is below the industry average for comprehensive home warranty plans.

☆Competitive cap payout rates

First America’s payout caps are comparatively high in the home warranty market.

☆Unlimited service call-outs

First American does not limit the number of call-outs per year for item repairs or replacement. However, it must be mentioned that the client is obligated to pay a call-out fee of $75 each time.

☆High-quality contractors

First American has a high-quality selection of pre-screened independent contractors in the area of your domicile. Through feedback-driven data from the First American customer satisfaction surveys, they carefully monitor contractors’ performance to ensure the best quality service.

If a contractor has consistently bad customer reviews, they will be removed for the company contractor list to prevent poor future customer service. As further customer protection, they warranty the contractor’s work for thirty days after the repair or replacement is complete. 

☆First America includes issues not covered by standard home warranties

First American includes repair and replacement for issues caused by rust, corrosion, sediment, and lack of maintenance that are not covered by standard home warranties. Home inspection and maintenance records are not required by First America to fulfill customer claims, as many other companies rigidly require.

First American Home Warranty cons

✖️Not fully available nationwide

There are 15 states that are not covered by the First American Home Warranty cover, including New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

✖️Lack of flexibility

First American does not allow the flexibility that some home warranty companies provide to homeowners when taking out a plan. Some companies allow customers to pick ten optional items/systems to customize the coverage plan to suit their requirements, whereas First American does not. First American only allows customers to choose from the three standard plans, and added items/systems added to this plan each carry an additional charge.

✖️Customers may only use First American-approved contractors

First  American provides its own specialist and technicians and limits a customer’s control over who they wish to provide. If they want to have their private contractor to do repairs, they must submit a request to the company for approval, or the services will not be reimbursed.

✖️Repair and replacement of certain items are dependent on the availability of parts

First American will give cash instead of repairs if the parts are not available in the claim time frame. This delay is often inconvenient as the repair is postponed until these parts available, and they may still be left with a non-operational appliance.

✖️ The basic plan has limited coverage

First American’s basic plan has a more limited coverage area than the average home warranty on the market.

✖️Higher than average number of customer complaints

First American has received far more complaints than some of its main competitors and has clocked up 2,984 customer complaints. Their BBB rating averages on three stars over 1,570 customer ratings.

They have a comparatively high number of bad customer reviews regarding poor customer service and hidden fees on appliances and delayed and lengthy response and service times.

✖️ Speculations about lax data security

First American Financial Corporation made the headlines earlier this year with a data security breach of 885 million records, including bank account numbers, mortgage, and tax records, and social security numbers. Being the parent company to the Home Warranty division has raised questions regarding the data security standards of the First American group.

First American Home warranty reviews:

Better Business Bureau

Rating ⭐4.0/5

Reviews: 1,570

Extended waiting periods and being caught between company and contractor disputes were evident in a large percentage of the negative reviews. There are many positive reviews for exceptional customer service and prompt service.

Trust pilot

Rating: ⭐4.0/5

Reviews: 5,057

Most of the negative customer ratings revolve around poor contractors and lengthy delays in repair/replacement of items/systems. There were many positive customer experiences expressed on this site.

Consumer Affairs

Rating ⭐3.3/5

Reviews: 895

The general complaints were regarding slow service and delays in repairing of covered items. Several clients expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of contractors provided by First American and their complaints were addressed by the company.

Yelp

Rating ⭐1.0/5

Reviews 937

Lack of response from the online staff and the shoddy follow-up service were chief amongst complaints on this site. Many users felt that they were not taken note of adequately and their claims were poorly handled.

Pissed consumer

Rating ⭐1.3/5

Reviews: 379

Lengthy waiting periods for crucial systems such as refrigerators and home heating systems were common complaints.

Google Review

Rating ⭐4.2/5

Reviews: 645

Many positive reviews for excellent customer service but quite a few complaints of low-quality contractor standards.

Conclusion

First American Home Warranty is an established and iconic name in the home warranty industry. Thirty-six years of service to the American homeowners have set the First American as a household name in home warranties. They may improve by allowing more flexibility in their coverage plans and extend basic coverage to include more systems and appliances than their current allotment.

There are higher than average amounts of negative user reviews, but being one of the top-rated warranty companies means that they have a comparatively large user base. Other home warranty providers seem to accrue similar complaints, which seem ubiquitous in the home warranty industry.

Their generous caps and their inclusion of unseen damage cover more than make up for some of the company’s shortfalls in terms of high exclusions and rigid plan structures. They remain an excellent choice for a provider of home warranties in America.

References

  • https://bestcompany.com/home-warranty/company/first-american-home-warranty
  • https://www.consumeraffairs.com/insurance/first_american_home_buyers_protection.html
  • https://www.bbb.org/us/ca/canoga-park/profile/home-warranty-plans/first-american-home-warranty-corporation-1216-18779/complaints
  • https://www.investopedia.com/first-american-home-warranty-review-4845566
  • https://www.yelp.com/biz/first-american-home-warranty-santa-rosa-17
  • https://www.thisoldhouse.com/home-finances/21244199/first-american-home-warranty

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