Making the Right Choice in Home Warranty Companies

If you’re looking to safeguard your house systems (like your air conditioner or heater) or major appliances (like your washing machine), then you’re probably looking at a few home warranty companies to find the best choice for you and your dwelling. There are so many of these on the market that you may also be feeling unsure about which you should choose. Use these tips to find the right coverage for you.

1. Make sure the company you choose is licensed by the state your house is in. What’s more, you can check with the agency that issues the license to find out whether or not there have ever been any complaints registered against the company, and, if there were, what they were for. You can use this strategy to compare the providers you’re thinking about using.

2. While home warranty companies don’t offer policies that are the same as your insurance, you can think of the coverage as similar to your health insurance, or HMO. Usually, you will have to pay a flat fee, like a copay at the doctor’s office, for each visit a repair technician makes. Depending on your needs, you can usually pay a little more up front when you purchase the policy to reduce these visit fees, or you can pay a little more per visit, shrinking your upfront payment. Find a policy that warrants what you need it to at a price you can live with.

3. Make sure your read the fine print. You’ll want to compare the coverage between home warranty companies to ensure that the appliances and systems that you need covered are included in your policy. Check to see that it includes your refrigerator, washing machine and dryer, HVAC system, dishwasher, and any other big-ticket item that you may not be able to replace out of pocket. Read over the fine print for caps on the amount of service you’re entitled to, and look for any exclusions so you don’t accidentally compromise (and in the process void) your coverage.

4. Ask how they handle claims. Find out what the average wait time is to have an item repaired or replaced. Usually, the provider will find the technician themselves to come out to your house. If this is something you don’t like, you should speak with the sales representative to find out the procedure for finding your technician.

5. Make sure it’s transferable. This contract can add value to a dwelling’s potential selling price, and it’s a great incentive for buyers to choose you over other similar places on the market. It gives them peace of mind in knowing that even if there is a system failure, they won’t get buried under unexpected expenses.

Use these tips to help you choose between several home warranty companies. Thinking about how important your systems and major appliances are to the function and comfort of your house will tell you how important it is to select the right one for you.

The EHIC Card and Private Medicine in Europe

Some people head off overseas on holiday or business trips clutching their EHIC card confident in the belief that it will cover them for any medical costs they might incur.

In fact, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Keep in mind

At the outset, there are three critically important points to keep in mind when reading this article:

1. The EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) is only valid for European Union countries plus one or two others associated with it. Nothing in what follows applies to medical treatment outside of the EU.

2. The position with the use of this card may vary considerably depending upon which of the EU member states you are in. That’s because their health systems are different and therefore just what the card will do for you will vary.

3. The subject area of this article has been subject to inter-governmental squabbling for some years and that looks likely to continue. So, what is accurate today might not be totally accurate tomorrow.

Public versus private health

In general terms, the system is intended to give European Union citizens travelling in another EU country the right to access any freely-provided emergency medical services made available by the country concerned to their own citizens. That access should be free if it is also free to local citizens.

Now although it isn’t entirely explicitly stated, there is an inbuilt assumption that such services are provided by the state. For example, in the United Kingdom, accident and emergency services are almost exclusively provided by the NHS, as opposed to private hospitals. Private hospitals in the UK tend to be aimed exclusively at non-critical treatment or that which is elective in nature.

So, in the UK a visitor from another EU country who was in urgent need of medical attention would almost certainly obtain it from a public health service GP or perhaps an accident and emergency unit. As publicly provided services, these are largely entirely free of charge to a UK citizen, so they would also be covered by the visiting EU citizen’s EHIC card.

Things aren’t the same everywhere

Unfortunately, in some other European countries, the distinction between public and private treatment can be rather more blurred. In some countries, private hospitals may provide certain components of treatment that might normally be offered by the NHS in the UK. The citizens may be able to choose between going to a public hospital or GP, and therefore pay nothing all, or going to a private hospital or GP and paying for their treatment or making a substantial contribution to it.

What this means for you

The position is exceptionally complicated but broadly speaking, if you accidentally choose to use a private hospital or private doctor when travelling in the European Union, you may find that they won’t accept your EHIC card. You also typically will not be able to reclaim your expenditure upon your return to the UK.

There is no universal answer to this potential problem other than to be aware of it and to make sure that you take advice abroad when seeking urgent treatment. Make sure you ask the doctor or institution concerned (in advance where practical and safe) whether they are a public or private operation and whether they will take an EHIC card.