3OYS: East Valley homeowner says warranty company let her down

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

MESA, Ariz. -- A Mesa woman and her husband purchased a home warranty, thinking it would come in handy in case something broke down. But the home warranty turned out to be worthless.

Danelle New enjoys her backyard pool.  But maintaining it can sometimes be pricey.  "We do have to run the pool pump for 8-to-10 hours every single day to keep it nice and clean," she says.

And that pool pump is bound to break down sooner or later.  So, New bought a home warranty from a company called Sensible Home Warranty.

She bought the warranty not only for the Mesa home she lives in, but also a condo she owns nearby, as well as a rental house she owns. The total price for those three policies was right around $2,100, which covered her and her home and two rental properties for two years. "It's kind of like insurance.  It gives me some peace of mind to know if something does happen, we're covered," New says.

And something did happen. The pool pump she was worried about continues to work just fine. However, the air conditioner at that condo she rents broke down. But New says trying to reach Sensible Home Warranty to fix the AC unit has been impossible.  "Well, it's disappointing, to say the least," she says.

Turns out, Sensible Home Warranty quietly went out of business.  3 On Your Side has reported on this company in several previous reports.  Some of those reports focused on repairs that consumers complained should have been covered but were not covered at all.

But, now that Sensible Home Warranty is completely out of business and shut down, some consumers are just now finding out and finding out the hard way.  "It makes me angry.  I mean I'm disappointed and angry that they would take advantage of all of the people. They took all of our money and they just left," New says.

Sensible Home Warranty has quite the record. The Phoenix Better Business Bureau gives them an "F" rating, after logging nearly 1,900 complaints.

They company has also been reprimanded or banned from doing business in 4 states, including Arizona.  In fact, the Arizona Department of Insurance, which regulates the industry, sent out a Cease and Desist letter recently, claiming Sensible Home Warranty was "engaged in unfair trade practices."

New says she feels horrible. She gave Sensible Home Warranty around $2,100, and now she could use that money to fix that air conditioner. "I feel helpless," she says. "There's nothing I can do about it.  It's just my hard-earned money and it's gone."

If you're shopping for a home warranty company, make sure you do your homework and you know what you're getting into. Many consumers complain that their repairs should have been covered under the policy, but were denied.  In this case, the home warranty just shut its doors and kept customers' money.

Most consumer advocates agree that home warranties are usually not worth the money anyway.  Many recommend setting aside the money you would have spent on a home warranty premium and deductibles, and use that money to pay for repairs yourself.