Home warranties are popular, because they promise peace of mind if a major appliance breaks in your home.

Among them, Choice Home Warranty is one of the most popular, offered by many Realtors to buyers, then renewed year after year

But the company is now battling a state Attorney General's lawsuit, a Better Business Bureau alert, and more than 5,000 BBB complaints.

Leaking water heater not covered

Callie Grant needed a new water heater. Hers was leaking all over the laundry room floor.

So she called Choice Home, the warranty company she had been paying $500 a year to.

But when she called about the water heater, she claims, "they said they would not do it. Said the warranty did not cover that."

Grant was stunned. She had a handbook that listed all the items her warranty covered, including "clothes washer, refrigerator, air conditioner, water heater, electrical systems, plumbing."

But even the plumber Choice Home sent out could not convince the company to pay for a new water heater.

"He called Choice Home warranty, and they told him they wouldn't cover it." She believes it may have been due to the heater's age, even it was not even 10 years old.

Grant says the worst thing was that she still had to pay $60 for the service call just for a plumber come out and tell her it wasn't covered under her warranty.

And she says the water heater was not the only claim that was denied.

"Every time I put in a claim, I would pay this guy $60 to come out, and nothing ever got done," she said.

Complaints pile up

It's a familiar complaint. Choice Home now has more than 5,000 complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau the past three years. The Bureau has an "alert" at the top of its review page.

And last fall, the Arizona Attorney General filed suit against the company, saying their contracts actually exclude many items.

The suit also says the company promised "24/7 customer service" that was "swift and timely," but claims many repairs drag on for weeks.

Choice Home is not commenting on the AG's suit, but it has said it lives up to its contracts with homeowners.

It recently told our sister station WRTV, "Choice Home Warranty is committed to providing excellent service and value to our customers. Since its founding, Choice Home Warranty has responded to more than 2.5 million service requests on behalf of our customers and covered more than 1 million homes across the country."

After we emailed Choice Home's management, the company reviewed Grant's claim and agreed to pay $500 toward her new water heater.

This is not to say that all home warranties are bad deals. Some get good reviews and can be very worthwhile. But check the company's Better Business Bureau report (Choice Home has an alert on it), and Google them for complaints.

That way you don't waste your money.

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