Debate over home warranty details nearly costs KC family hundreds to fix cracked pipe

Problem Solvers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Angie Hoffman’s bathroom has been out of commission for weeks.

What started as a do-it-yourself bathroom model, turned into a major headache when Angie’s husband Ian discovered a crack in one of the pipes.

“It was about two wide and ran the whole length of the pipe,” said Angie, who immediately called a plumber.

“They took one look at it and said that’s your sewage pipe,” she said.

Hoffman said she felt lucky that they’d discovered the problem before it caused serious damage. She was also hopeful that her home warranty from American Home Shield would help pay for the repair.

She called the warranty company, which charged her $100 to send out a plumber. She said the plumber told her the cost of replacing the cracked pipe should be covered under her warranty.

But American Home Shield disagreed. A company representative referred to A2, part D on her contract.

“When they pointed to that, I was like, ‘Well this actually makes me really convinced that it’s covered,'” Hoffman said.

That section of the contract stated that the American Home Shield warranty covers undetectable pre-existing conditions. Since the pipe was buried beneath the floor, she thought surely that would qualify.

But the company rep told her the busted pipe wasn’t covered because it wasn’t “an active leak.”

Hoffman countered that the only reason the leak wasn’t active was because the water to the bathroom had been shut off during the renovation.

She demanded to speak to a manager but was told managers were working from home and couldn’t be connected to the call.

Tired of arguing, the Hoffmans shelled out about $1,200 to replace the pipe themselves. They also decided to cancel the warranty, which cost them $45 every month.

“They promptly sent me a $45 cancellation fee,” Hoffman said. That was the last straw in this aggravating scenario. Hoffman called FOX4 Problem Solvers.

We looked at Hoffman’s contract and agreed with her. It did appear to cover a cracked pipe. Plus she wasn’t the only person complaining about American Home Shield. In fact, there’s a whole Facebook group devoted to unhappy customers. It has 6,600 followers.

FOX4 Problem Solvers contacted the warranty company. Unlike some we have dealt with in the past, American Home Shield treated the Hoffman’s complaint seriously and promised to look into it.

That was great news for the Hoffmans who have four children and a fifth on the way. They really need the money they spent on that broken pipe to finish remodeling their bathroom.

American Home Shield sent us this statement:

“We sincerely apologize for the frustrations that the Hoffman family experienced; their situation is not indicative of the typical customer experience. We are reviewing the matter to better understand what transpired and ensure that we properly address breakdowns in our process.”

The company is reimbursing the Hoffmans $850 to cover the cost of the materials used to repair the plumbing. Problem solved.

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