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Call Kurtis: What To Do Before Buying a Home Warranty

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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ELK GROVE (CBS13) — Home warranties are intended to give new homeowners piece of mind everything will work, but when Michael Perez and fiancee Jen Reid’s water heater went out in their new home, they said the warranty didn’t help at all.

Getting the cold shoulder from their home warranty company, they said, it was time to Call Kurtis.

“We thought we had a good, safe home until we tried to take a shower,” Perez said.

It happened just a day after moving into their new home in Elk Grove, and just hours after PG&E lit their water heater, he said.

The hot water flowed for a few hours, they said. Then it went cold.

Fortunately, they paid more than $400 for a Fidelity National Home Warranty to cover appliances that might fail in the first year.

Unfortunately, Fidelity denied their claim after sending out a technician — on the grounds that the water heater “must be in good, safe working order at the start of contract coverage.”

But wait a minute — CBS13 has learned PG&E’s report, written the day its technician turned on the hot water heater, says the water heater was “operating normal [sic] at this time.”

“This thing worked, according to PG&E,” said consumer attorney Stu Talley of Sacramento-based Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff.

Talley said, based on PG&E’s report, the water heater was in working order the day after the family took over the home.

Fidelity is just trying to wiggle out of paying a claim, Talley said.

Angie Hicks, founder of consumer review website Angie’s List, said home warranties have topped their most complained about list for seven years — often tied to confusing warranty wording.

“One of the things home warranty companies can do is really have more transparent contracts,” she said, “so consumers understand exactly what’s covered and what’s not.”

CBS13 brought up that PG&E report to Fidelity, but they stood by their claim, saying the hot water heater was not in good and safe working order.

Unwilling to live with cold showers Perez and Jen bought a new water heater at their own expense.

They’re considering taking Fidelity to small claims court.

This is why you have warranties, is to warranty what we have,” Perez said. “And they’re not living up to their part of the bargain.”

The family had a home inspection before buying this foreclosed home, but the gas was off so the inspector couldn’t test the water heater.

Had the family tested before the warranty started, that could prove the water heater was in fact working.

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