Mechanicsville, Virginia
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This complaint is being filed against American Home Shield of Virginia, Inc. (“AHS”) regarding a breach of contract related to a home warranty policy. I purchased a home warranty contract known as the “3x3 Combo” plan which became effective on March 23, 2016. Under the 3x3 Combo plan, both residential home systems and appliances are included as covered under the policy as of the effective date. The appliances covered include garbage disposals under the policy. Under Section A.2 of my policy, it states the following:

“Coverage under this contract includes normal wear and tear malfunctions during the contract term (as defined in Section B). Coverage under this contract also includes malfunctions of covered items which occur during the contract term resulting from the following situations prior to and during the contract term:

Insufficient maintenance, rust, corrosion, or sediment;

Improper installations, repairs, or modifications;

Mismatched systems where the indoor and outdoor units were not property matched to each other in capacity or efficiency for proper operation; and

Undetectable pre-existing conditions which are defects or mechanical failures that could not have been detected by visual inspection AND / OR simple mechanical test. A visual inspection of the covered items verifies that it appears structurally intact and without damage or missing parts that would indicate inoperability. A simple mechanical test is defined as turning the item on and off to ensure that it is operational. While turned on, the item should operate without causing damage, irregular sounds, smoke, or other abnormal outcomes.”

I moved into the residence covered by the AHS 3x3 Combo plan on March 24, 2016 after having visually inspected all systems in the home prior to closing on March 21, 2016. Prior to obtaining the AHS warranty policy, I confirmed with AHS that no special inspection would be required by AHS and that all systems covered under the 3x3 Combo plan would be covered under the policy as of the effective date of the policy.

Between March 24, 2016 and April 17, 2016, the systems and appliances in my home worked flawlessly; however, on April 17, 2016, I noticed a small leak coming from the bottom of my kitchen, under-sink garbage disposal. This was the first time a leak had occurred, and so I proceeded to file a claim under my AHS policy. On the morning of April 18, 2016, AHS sent a firm called Total Plumbing, Inc. to my home to repair the garbage disposal. The technician for Total Plumbing Inc. opened the doors to the kitchen sink, and without even turning on the water or the garbage disposal, said, “This is not covered. This is not going to work out for you and I have to call your insurance company.” Without even establishing that there was a leak or where the leak was coming from, the technician said there was a crack in the garbage disposal that, “must have been there before we moved in.” Per Section A.2(d) of my policy, the garbage disposal worked through a simple mechanical test when it was turned off and on with no leaks. Further, Section A.2 of my policy notes coverage of normal wear and tear “following situations prior to and during the contract term.”

The very nature of a garbage disposal is that it vibrates significantly in shredding food debris put down a kitchen sink. AHS is denying the claim on the opinion of a technician who looked at it for 30 seconds without even turning on the water or the garbage disposal and said it must have happened before we moved into the home. AHS has no grounds to make a definitive claim as to when a crack would have occurred in the unit given the mechanical nature of a garbage disposal, and even if there was a pre-existing crack in the disposal, the fact that the unit operated without leaking based on a simple mechanical test per section A.2(d) of the contract provides that the disposal would be covered due to a malfunction that occurred only after the policy covering the appliance became effective.

Product or Service Mentioned: American Home Shield 3x3 Combo Protection Plan.

Reason of review: Warranty issue.

Preferred solution: Abide by your contract!.

  • Total Plumbing
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