Sevier County new homeowners having trouble with home warranty

Sevier County new homeowners having trouble with home warranty

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Justina and Ivan Velazquez say their home warranty company won't pay for their broken heater. Justina and Ivan Velazquez say their home warranty company won't pay for their broken heater.
In mid-January, they moved into a three-bedroom home built in 1997 and paid $110,000. They closed on the house on January 17. In mid-January, they moved into a three-bedroom home built in 1997 and paid $110,000. They closed on the house on January 17.
The couple's service contract is with HWA, Home Warranty of America, one of the country's largest providers. The couple's service contract is with HWA, Home Warranty of America, one of the country's largest providers.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

SEVEIRVILLE (WATE) - In a relatively short period of time, home warranty plans have grown dramatically in popularity. After all, these warranties give home buyers peace of mind.

New home owners in Sevier County called 6 On Your Side after their warranty company refused to help them, even though they had just moved in their house.

A home warranty or home protection plan is pretty simple. It's a one-year service contract that covers the repair or replacement of home system components and appliances that typically break down over time.

It benefits the seller, who often pays for the plan, because it avoids any after-the-sale disputes if something goes wrong.

It benefits the buyer with peace of mind against any costly repairs, except for the couple who called us.

After years of renting, the Velazquez family finally has a home of their own in Sevier County, a safe place where their little boy can grow up.

In mid-January, they moved into a three-bedroom home built in 1997 and paid $110,000. They closed on the house on January 17.

"We did the walkthrough a few days before, and as soon as we got the keys, we came in to look at the house again," said Justina Velazquez.

She and her husband Ivan say the appliances and systems worked fine during the walkthrough. Plus, they were worry-free since their seller provided them with a homeowner's warranty.

"First time we bought a house and we wanted to be covered. If something goes wrong, we bought the policy. Yet, it is not doing us any good," Justina said.

The warranty is not doing any good, she says, because a few days after they closed on the home, the heat went out.

Justina had to call her realtor to get the warranty company to send a repairman.

"The technician was telling us that he thinks they should be covering it, and he will advise the company to do the repair," she said.

The technician made repairs to get the heat going, but the warranty company called saying it won't pay a dime.

"The insurance, they say, 'No. We won't pay for anything,'" said Ivan Velazquez.

"They cannot cover it because it went wrong so fast after we purchased the house.  So it was wrong from the beginning. That's what they were claiming," said Justina.

The couple insists the heat did work during the walkthrough with their realtor.

"Who would buy a house with a broker heater in the winter time?" said Ivan.

The couple's service contract is with HWA, Home Warranty of America, one of the country's largest providers.

Items covered under the contract include: air conditioning, heating, electrical system, plumbing, and a dozen other items.

"If something breaks down, it would be covered," said Justina.

Since Home Warranty of America denied the repairs, the couple filed a grievance with the Better Business Bureau. HWA's response is to the point: "The unit needed to be in place and working on the effective date of the contract."

"They never inspected to see what was the condition. They don't take our word for saying it was working or not," said Justina.

In a letter to 6 on Your Side, Home Warranty of America says: "Our warranty states all systems need to be in proper working order. Mrs. Velazquez stated the unit had never come on and they had not tried to use the unit before. We do not provide a warranty for a system that was not working at the time the warranty was purchased."

Frustrated with the warranty company, the couple bought a new heating and air unit last month. They've asked HWA to refund their money for repairs, but so far no luck.

"Don't buy warranty company policies because they don't do you any good. They will find a reason not to cover," said Justina.

Home Warranty of America did offer the couple their money back for the warranty, $420. In a email sent Monday, HWA says the issues are still an ongoing matter with the couple.

Justina says they have spent more than $500 repairing the old heating and air unit, plus they paid a deductible fee of $60.

Their warranty is still in effect. The couple would like that $560 back.

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