In many areas of the country, a working HVAC system is an essential system for comfort and quality of living. Maintenance costs are part of owning an HVAC, or AC unit. Eventually, a replacement system will be needed. Although you can use a home warranty for certain services, repairs or replacement, homeowners insurance generally does not cover maintenance or normal wear and tear of the system, unless it is damaged by a covered peril in your policy.

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When does homeowners insurance cover AC?

Your HVAC system may be covered under the dwelling coverage or personal property coverage portion of your homeowners policy if the damage or loss results from a covered peril, depending on your policy and limits.

In the following circumstances, you may be reimbursed by your homeowners insurance company for repairs or replacement of your AC:

Some weather-related damage

If your AC unit is damaged by hail or high winds or struck by lightning, it may be covered up to your policy limits. And if a tree falls on your AC unit, your policy may cover damages. However, flood and earthquake damage are typically excluded from most homeowners policies, so if your AC experiences damages from these causes of loss, you may not be reimbursed.

Some insurance companies offer coverage for earthquakes and floods, which could also include a separate policy. If you are interested in this coverage, contact your insurance agent or company.

Fire and water damage

If there is a fire in your home or a pipe bursts suddenly and your AC needs to be repaired or replaced as a result, you may be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. If water damage results from flooding as a cause of loss, your unit may not be covered.

Theft and vandalism

Although theft is unlikely, if your AC unit is damaged as a result of vandalism, the damage or loss may be covered. Theft and vandalism typically requires filing a police report before you can file a claim.

When does homeowners insurance not cover AC?

Most modern air conditioners are built to last upwards of 15-20 years, but as with all regularly-used home items, will eventually break down due to age. Since homeowners insurance is designed to cover unexpected perils, it is not intended to help if your window unit or AC system needs to be repaired due to general wear and tear. A home warranty, however, can serve this purpose.

Home warranties can be a valuable supplement to a homeowners insurance policy by providing financial compensation for items that deteriorate over time. Home warranty claims are typically only denied because of owner neglect, improper servicing or installation or because the damage is covered by a homeowners insurance policy. If you fail to properly maintain your HVAC system and it breaks down, you may not be covered. Additionally, a home warranty will not typically cover unexpected events like lightning. But if a component or even your entire unit needs to be repaired or replaced due to wear and tear, home warranties are designed to cover the expense.

Neither your home warranty nor your homeowners insurance policy will typically cover you if you damage your AC unit, or if you fail to properly maintain the system. For example, if it is determined that you never changed your air filter, even your home warranty will likely not cover the breakdown of your AC. Some home warranties won’t cover standalone units unless you opt to purchase appliance coverage separately.

With home insurance, coverage exclusions typically apply in the opposite sense. Repairs resulting from circumstances other than routine use are commonly excluded from warranties but may be covered by homeowners policies. And repairs from wear and tear are generally excluded from homeowners policies but are specifically covered by home warranties, in most cases.

Circumstance leading to repair or replacement of AC Covered by homeowners insurance? Covered by home warranty?
Fire Yes No
Internal Water Damage Sometimes No
Lightning Yes No
Flood Damage No* No
Earthquake Damage No* No
War or Nuclear Hazard No No
Theft or Vandalism Yes No
Wear and Tear No Yes
Neglect No No

*If you purchase coverage for earthquakes or floods, you may have coverage under that policy or endorsement. Without this extra coverage in place prior to the breakdown of your AC unit, you will not have coverage under your homeowners insurance policy.

Filing a homeowners insurance claim for your AC

To better understand the coverage that may apply to your AC or HVAC systems, read the fine print of your homeowners insurance policy. If there is any part of the policy that you do not understand, reach out to our insurance agent or company to get an explanation. It can help you make an informed decision on coverage types and limits, and what may be excluded from the policy.

If you are not comfortable with the type or amount of coverage offered, compare homeowners insurance quotes until you find a provider that meets your needs. You may even be able to reduce your homeowners insurance cost by shopping around.

If you experience damage to your AC and have confirmed it is covered under your homeowners insurance policy, here are a few tips that may be helpful to keep in mind when you file a claim:

  1. Take pictures of visible damage.
  2. Get a copy of the police report, if applicable to the cause of loss.
  3. Write down your unit’s model and serial number.
  4. Call your homeowners insurance provider or file a claim online.
  5. Meet with the insurance adjuster.
  6. Keep your receipts for the necessary repairs.
  7. Submit your receipts to your homeowners insurance provider for reimbursement.

Depending on your provider, the claim process may differ, so speak with an agent in case you want to verify any additional requirements.

Filing a home warranty claim for your AC

As with a homeowners insurance claim, the first step to filing a home warranty claim is to understand what’s covered under your home warranty. Knowing your coverage limits and what circumstances are covered can help you save money and avoid frustration. Once you have verified that your AC repairs are covered under your home warranty, here is how the process may differ from a homeowners insurance claim:

  1. Request a service visit by calling your home warranty company or using their online portal.
  2. A contractor will contact you to schedule your service visit.
  3. Have the contractor come to your home to service and repair the unit, or determine whether the unit requires replacement.
  4. Pay the service fee and any repairs not covered under your warranty.

Keep in mind that home warranty companies will repair your AC unit if at all possible rather than paying for a replacement.

Frequently asked questions

    • Your homeowners insurance may cover AC unit leaks that cause water damage. Typically, homeowners insurance will not cover the cause of the leak, but will pay for the damage the leak causes. For example, if a pipe bursts and causes water damage, the damage is often covered but the pipe replacement will not be covered.
    • The cost to replace an outside AC unit can vary widely, depending on where you live, the brand and the size. Expect to pay between $4,350 and $12,000 to replace an outside AC unit, which includes permit fees and labor. Just like shopping around can help you find the best rate for the homeowners insurance coverage you need, shopping around for service work around your home can also help you save when you need system repairs and replacement.