How long does a home warranty last? How long does it take to activate your home warranty contract?  What is the cancellation period? Whether you’ve just purchased a home warranty or you’re still in search of one and studying the home warranty market, it’s a good idea to learn about the timelines and deadlines associated with home warranty policies.

Before you decide on a home warranty, the most important thing is to carefully read your home warranty coverage and service contract’s fine print. That means reading the entire contract and understanding every detail. This will save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Otherwise, you risk joining the ranks of the many frustrated customers who thought they were buying one thing and ended up getting something totally different.

We’re first going to overview exactly how a home warranty works, focusing particularly on the timelines and deadlines. These include such important issues as the time it takes for a home warranty plan to become effective, how many days you have to cancel the policy with a full or partial refund, how much time you have to submit a claim, whether you need a home inspection and more.

Knowing all the timelines and deadlines for your home warranty provider will save you time and money and help you get the most out of your home warranty.

    Timelines and Deadlines in Home Warranty Contracts

    Information TypeDescription
    Coverage becomes effective30 days
    Cancellation with a refund available30 days
    Emergency service available79% companies
    Time to cancel automatic renewal30 days
    Max time to submit claim1 day
    Repair timeframe2 days
    Repair timeframe weekends and holidays32 days
    24/779% companies
    Business hours for service calls15% companies
    Free reservice period (parts)60 days
    Free reservice period (labor)30 days

    How Long Does it Take for a Home Warranty to Become Effective?

    One of the most important things you need to know about your home warranty is how long it takes to activate it. There is typically a waiting period between when you sign the policy and when it becomes effective. 

    This ensures that any systems or appliances that have stopped working did so due to normal wear and tear or old age. The waiting period will depend on the company. Each home warranty company will have its specific waiting period. Regardless of whether you have a new home or an older home, pre-existing conditions will not be covered in the plan. 

    Usually, the waiting period ranges anywhere from 1 to 30 days. A total of 54% of companies, including such industry leaders as 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty or AHW, have a waiting period of 30 days, making this the most common length of time. 

    This means that if, for example, your refrigerator breaks down just 2 weeks after the policy purchase, you will have to repair it on your own. Just 17% of home warranty companies have their coverage begin sooner. Only 4% of the companies will begin service in 15 days; another 4% do so in 10 days. Finally, there are a few home warranty companies with no waiting period – coverage begins after only 1 day. Not all customers will be so lucky, as only 9% of home warranty companies in the industry have this generous policy.

    For companies with no waiting period, you must check to see if there are additional repair costs or a higher service call fee during this initial home warranty cover period.

    Read: Affordable plans for septic system

    If you’re looking for a trusted, industry-leading home warranty company, we recommend American Home Shield. American Home Shield is an industry leader in providing home warranties, and right now you can take advantage of their current promotions that get you $50 Off and The Service Fee of Your Choice. 

    How Much Time Do You Have to Cancel a Home Warranty?

    It is crucial to know how much time you have to cancel a home warranty. Pay extra attention to the cancellation policy to know whether your home warranty company will refund your money if you want to cancel. 

    In the event that you decide to cancel your contract, you only have a certain amount of time to do so and still get a refund. More than half of the companies give their clients 30 days for making such a decision. Only 1 company offers 60 days to end the agreement, while some of them are much less generous – you might only have 20 days, 10 days, or even 3 days to cancel.

    In short, if you ever change your mind or are dissatisfied with the services, you can cancel your home warranty, but you cannot always expect a full refund. If you cancel before the deadline and your company never provided any services, you can get your money back. After the deadline, a cancellation fee will be charged.

    Most homeowners will go the first year without canceling their homeowner’s warranty plan. They give it some time to make sure that the service provider does good work and that the covered items and covered appliances are fixed in a timely matter. Many new homeowners will look to be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty on many of their home’s appliances. However, the heating system, electrical systems, and HVAC may not have these same warranties. 

    How Long Does It Take to Get an Emergency Service With a Home Warranty?

    Do you know how long it takes to get an emergency service with your home warranty company? If you have a system or appliance breakdown that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, most home warranty companies will make their best efforts to have a contractor out to your home ASAP. To get help, simply contact customer service and report the problem. Normally, customer support works 24/7/365.

    Almost 80% of warranties include the option of emergency repairs. Only 7.5% of the companies do not offer such a service, and 1.5% will provide emergency services only for an extra fee.

    For example, a company like American Home Shield offers homeowners the peace of mind that a service technician will be at their home within 48 hours of submitting the request. Considering you can submit the request any time of day or night, this is a fairly quick service. For an additional service fee, you can speed up this process. It really depends on the system that you are struggling with. 

    Something smaller like a washer or a garage door opener may be fine to wait a day or two. However, a septic system or water heater may need immediate attention.

    How Much Time Do You Have to Submit a Claim With Your Home Warranty?

    Another time frame that a home warranty contract describes is the maximum time allotted to submit a claim if a system or appliance breaks down. About two-fifths of the home warranty providers expect their clients to notify them of a home system or appliance breakdown within 1 day. Only 4.5% will give you 3 days, and Select Home Warranty is among them. Only 1.5% will give you 14 days, and another 1.5% will give you 30 days to submit a claim.

    Although you may think that it is your right to have the issues fixed whenever you want, more structural defects and other issues can come up from ignoring a repair issue. It is only fair to let the home warranty company be aware of an issue as soon as it comes up.

    How Long Does it Take to Get a Repair?

    One of the questions that every homeowner asks a home warranty representative is how long it takes to get a repair. If your air conditioning decides to stop working in the middle of the summer, you will want a repair person to head out to your home rather quickly. How about when you have company visiting your home, and the washer starts spilling out more water than it can keep in. 

    The longer you have to wait for repairs, the more inconvenient it is. Once a non-emergency service request is submitted, 40% of companies will send authorized contractors within 2 business days, and 7.5% of companies will send someone within 1 day. But beware: on the other side of the spectrum, some companies (1.5% to be exact) will only send a repairer within 30 days.

    If a breakdown occurs over the weekend or on a holiday, the waiting period usually increases. A total of 9% of companies promise to repair malfunctioning appliances or broken systems within 14 days, 6% – within 3 days, and only 4.5% of them are ready to help you within 24 hours. However, there are home warranty providers who only guarantee repairs within 30 days, but only 1.5% will have you wait this long.

    As you can see, the corresponding graph indicates that many home warranty companies, about 80%, don’t provide information on this point. This can be explained by the fact that many companies work every day without differentiating between weekdays and weekends. It is likely that many of these companies simply use the same time frame as during a weekday, but you should clarify this point directly with a company representative before signing the policy.

    One of the issues that makes this a bit of a fine print situation is that sometimes with major appliances like an air conditioner, a home repair requires certain parts. If the repair person is not able to get the proper parts, the waiting period for a repair is extended.

    How Long is the Reservice Period?

    In case one of your home systems or appliances was recently fixed, but something is wrong with it again, many home warranty companies offer a free reservice period. The free reservice period is the length of time after the original repair in which the home warranty company guarantees reservice if that original repair fails. 

    If you experience an issue regarding your completed repair within this window of time, you won’t have to pay a second time – a contractor will come out and make the repair again. That way, you won’t have to pay two times for the same repair.

    You will want to make sure that there are no additional coverage exclusions as part of this clause. Do you need to pay the service fee twice? Is there an extended warranty option that comes into play? Will you be subject to a deductible again? Make sure you understand all of these things before a garbage disposal repair turns into a mortgage payment is essential! 

    More than 48% of companies provide a 30-day workmanship guarantee on repairs made. Another 9% of home warranty companies provide a 60-day guarantee, 5.5% give 90 days, 4.5% give 180 days, and another 4.5% give as much as 365 days.

    This policy is very similar to the previous section about the free reservice period, but the difference is that this is for parts rather than labor. Sometimes the free reservice period for parts and labor may differ. For example, there might be a company with a 30-day free reservice policy for labor but a 90-day free reservice guarantee for parts. 

    If an appliance is fixed, but then a part breaks again after 60 days, then the repairman’s labor will cost money (since 60 days is outside of the 30-day labor guarantee), but the part will be provided for free (since 60 days is still inside the 90-day parts guarantee).

    Almost 30% of the companies provide a 30 days-guarantee for parts. A total of 10% of the home warranty providers give 60 days, 23.5% give 90 days, about 5% give 180 days, and 7.5% will give the longest period, 365 days.

    How Long Does a Home Warranty Last?

    Most home warranty contracts are one year in length and renewable every year. Usually, a company renews a home warranty plan at the end of the term automatically. If your home warranty provider doesn’t offer an automatic policy renewal, pay attention to your warranty’s expiration date and renew it on time if you want to continue to use their services. If you want to cancel the automatic policy renewal, it’s important to cancel within the specified time period before the contract’s expiration. Similar to homeowners insurance, you won’t want to allow a gap in service if you can help it. 

    About 39% of companies allow you to cancel the automatic renewal within 30 days before the end of the contract, and 4.5% let you cancel within 60 days. But be careful: one company only gives 3 days, and another company gives just 1 day. On rare occasions, companies like  Whirlpool Warranty limit the coverage to a maximum of 10 years.

    Final Words

    By now, you should have a good idea of how long a home warranty insurance lasts and its timelines and deadlines. Always remember the most important rule of home warranties: read every word of the contract before signing. Carefully study all these terms so as not to face problems in the future. If you learn exactly what your home warranty does and does not cover, as well as all of their timelines and deadlines, you can feel secure knowing that your home is protected, and you won’t have any unpleasant surprises to deal with.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Ross Robinson

    Ross Robinson


    Ross Robinson has spent over five years working in interior design and six years as a marketing manager for an award-winning luxury design company. Now he focuses on what he loves most: writing. From reviewing home products and DIY design tips to discussing the latest architecture and design trends, he’s covered it all.

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    Andrew Dunn

    Senior Editor

    Andrew Dunn is a veteran journalist with more than 15 years of experience reporting and editing for local and national publications, including The Charlotte Observer and Business North Carolina magazine. His work has been recognized numerous times by the N.C. Press Association and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. He is also a former general contractor with experience with cabinetry, finish carpentry and general home improvement and repair. Andrew earned a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a certificate in business journalism. He lives in Charlotte, N.C.

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