Consumers Warned About Home Warranty Services

By Michelle Mortensen , Nick Pantazi

Published 09/13 2012 05:20AM

Updated 09/13 2012 06:30AM

LAS VEGAS - Many people turn to home warranty services to protect their assets, but as one Las Vegas man learned, they don't always work.

They sound like a great idea. Pay a few hundred dollars for home warranty insurance, and if your appliances fail, you're covered. It didn't work out that way for Las Vegas resident Manny Curesma when the air conditioning failed in his home.

"It's not cooling off at all - blowing hot air," he said.

He called his warranty service American Fidelity to fix the problem, but Manny says he got the runaround.

"I called them to file a claim, and they told me someone would call me in 24 hours," he said. "Twenty four hours later, nobody called."

Manny kept trying. After several days, he says he was told his policy expired even though it hadn't according to his contract. The company then delivered more bad news.

"My policy doesn't even exist," he says American Fidelity told him.

Days later, American Fidelity, which services Las Vegas and thousands of cities other nationwide, went bankrupt.

Angie's List creator Angie Hicks says complaints like this are common. Last year, home warranty companies received the most complaints on her site.

"The consumer needs to understand you are giving up decision-making rights to a third party," she said. "If they have a situation where they go out of business, you are going to be out of luck."

Home warranty companies don't do what you want. They do what they want, which is why Hicks says many customers get upset. She suggests if you use one, do your research. It's advice Manny says he'll follow.

"I will get another insurance, but it will be somewhere locally," he said.

American Fidelity was based in Maryland and closed up shop August 14th. If you bought a warranty from them this summer, the Maryland Attorney General's office may be able to get your money back.

Contact the Maryland Attorney General's Office

Sadly for Manny, nothing can be done to get his money back. Plus, he's out the cost of the air conditioning repair.

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