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I opened a ticket in December when my heater failed. I called my home warranty company(HWA), opened a claim and asked for someone to come out and fix it. They said it would be at least a week, because it wasn't cold enough to escalate it to an emergency. The temperature outside with 29 degrees and, the temperature in my house was falling fast. I contacted Horizon, one of the more reputable names in furnace service in the area. They came out the next day. They told me my heat exchange was cracked and they would not be able to repair it. We picked the quickest option to get it replaced. By then we had been sleeping in front of the fireplace for a week and my upstairs was 34 degrees. I had to shut off the plumbing to the upper floors. After replacing the furnace I contacted the Home warranty company about a reimbursement ($2000) and they told be that since it wasn't pre-approved they could not do anything. Is there any legal recourse I have to take. I realize I need pre-approval, but the situation they left us with was unreasonable.

By the way. This is in Merchantville (Camden county) New Jersey

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    This would depend on the wording of your contract. "Home Warranties" are notorious for having language that prevents them from paying claims, and depending on how your contract is worded, they may be right. I was warned by my realtor never to buy one for exactly that reason, better to take the premium and stick it in a bank account. – Ron Beyer Jan 29 at 16:12
  • Agreed. I had the opportunity to do that with the previous home I purchased, but this time It was just thrown in. – mreff555 Jan 29 at 16:28
  • What jurisdiction and how long have you owned the home for? – davidgo Jan 30 at 8:41
  • I purchased the home 9/21/18. The heat claim was filed on 12/1/18. What exactly do you mean by jurisdiction? Camden Co. NJ? – mreff555 Jan 30 at 14:23
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    Take a look at the online BBB reputation of the company and consider filing a complaint even though you have no recourse becuase of the contract. bbb.org/us/nj The BBB complaint process is fast, you have all your docs, and many times, a company will reply or risk a bad rap, esp. if it is a national company. You might even get a refund of HWA fees or a settlement. – BlueDogRanch Jan 30 at 15:19
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Unless there is some surprise in the wording of your contract, you have no realistic legal recourse. You had a hope that the warranty could provide something which it does not provide. A "reasonable person" would read the wording of the contract and understand that it requires pre-approval, and does not include an exception clause "unless it gets really cold". You could hire a lawyer to sue them and maybe a judge would find against the company on some social policy grounds, i.e. the contract is against public policy (after all, under landlord-tenant laws, in the analogous situation the landlord would be obligated to fix the heat problem). Since these contracts are quite widespread and well-known, and legislatures have not declared them illegal, it is safe to conclude that there is no public policy being violated. So even if a sympathetic judge were to rule in your favor, it would be overruled on appeal.

If the warranty company delayed processing your request in order to get you to blink and break the terms of the contract, that could be held to be a bad-faith dealing. It is more likely that it is just a very slow process, slower than the average HVAC contractor, who would buy full-price replacements and have many workers on call to address your needs.

  • Sigh! Good answer. I don't like the answer, but it's a good answer. I was familiar with the contract. Unfortunately "reasonable people" in the real world have to make quick decisions when the firewood runs low and the family is at risk. Like you said taking them to court would be pointless. I didn't expect a good resolution. Just hoping. – mreff555 Jan 29 at 23:50
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    @mreff555 I do not live in the USA (In NZ, I can quote the statute providing recourse), but I'm not certain the above answer is correct - maybe someone else can chime in (but you also should update your post to include your location). I posit that the company has an implied duty to act in good faith - which they neglected to do. You might be able to get a "fair go" in a disputes tribunal. Wikipedia is not a great source for legal matters, but for some background reading evidencing that my view is at least plausible - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_faith_(law) – davidgo Jan 30 at 8:33

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