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Home insurance. Health insurance. Car insurance. Life insurance. Sometimes it can feel like we are drowning in insurance policies that protect us against disasters that may or may not ever happen.
Yet for as much time and turmoil as finding the right policies can take (not to mention the cost), we sure feel glad we have the protection when we really need it most!
That said, each preventative or protective plan or program we opt into is completely up to us. We get to choose—which programs, how much coverage, and for what—and the same goes for preventing breakdowns and outages of our heating and cooling systems at inopportune and even dangerous times.
In other words, we get to decide if we would prefer to focus on prevention—making sure problems are less likely to happen—or intervention—calling for repairs after a breakdown occurs.
In this post, learn the key factors that can help you decide if an HVAC preventative protection program is a good choice for you.
Step One: The Evaluation
The key to making the best (i.e., least expensive) choice is to conduct a personal evaluation of each of the following:
Do you have sufficient funds in place, in an emergency or "rainy day" fund, to easily afford major heating or cooling repairs? If not, what is your plan to pay for a major repair or replacement?
HVAC system condition and age
How old is your HVAC system? Have you had any major repairs for either the heating or cooling system in the past? Is the system still under manufacturer warranty, and if yes, what does the warranty cover, specifically?
Overall home or workplace safety
What are your primary safety concerns regarding the property or HVAC unit? Have you had any safety concerns or issues in the past related to your current HVAC system? What, if any, safety measures do you have in place to prevent fire, in particular?
Local weather conditions
Is the area where you live and/or work prone to weather extremes of heat, cold, or both? In more temperate areas, a cooling or heating outage may be bearable. But in more extreme climates, like in Canada, the same outage could be miserable.
Step Two: The Costs
Your answers to the issues highlighted above should already be giving you a better idea of whether or not it might make sense to opt into a preventative protection program for your home or workplace HVAC system.
But there is still the matter of how much such a program might cost. For reference, let's take a look at Shipton's three different protection programs:
Energy Savings Agreement
This is the most basic plan and offers annual or semi-annual tune-ups. Monthly premiums start at $8.99 per month with parts and labour discounted at a flat 20 percent rate.
Ideal for newer systems or even systems still under limited manufacturer warranty, the Energy Savings Agreement can help you save on energy costs, get better performance, reduce repair costs and even extend the life of your HVAC system.
Advantage Saving Maintenance Agreement
Move one tier up and you can opt into our Advantage Saving Maintenance Agreement. Monthly premiums start at $18.99 per month with the same parts and labour discount.
Repairs are covered up to $1,400/annually for both A/C and heating. If diagnosing the issue runs into overtime, pay 50 percent less. This is an ideal plan for systems in midlife that are starting to act up every so often and may be heading for a major repair in the next few years.
Ultra Saving Maintenance Agreement
The highest tier offers premiums starting at $24.99 per month and covers HVAC repairs up to $2,000/annually; plus, all overtime diagnostic charges are waived.
This plan is the best choice if you have an older HVAC system that may require major repairs in its near future.
So here you can see that your annual HVAC protection costs may run as little as $108 per year (for the lowest plan) or as high as $300 (for the highest plan).
Step Three: A Comparison
Of course, no one likes to spend even $1, let alone $100 or $300, if it isn't needed! So now it is crunch time. You have to try to put your best forecasting hat on and predict what your HVAC system may or may not do over the next calendar year.
Worst-Case Scenario: Fire!
The worst-case scenario is that your HVAC system causes a major catastrophe, such as a fire. Here, the costs are truly incalculable.
Alternate Worst-Case Scenario: Replacement
Realistically, you may be looking at a total replacement. Angie's List reports the average replacement cost for a full HVAC system (2014) is around $5,000 (with a range from $4,000 to $6,000).
Pricey Scenario: Major or Minor Repairs
But the area where you will probably be most interested to do a comparison is here: in the realm of major or minor HVAC repairs. Let's say you opt out of a protection plan (which can vary in coverage levels—Shipton's offers $1,400 and $2,000 annually, respectively). So what will you pay, on average, for minor or major repairs?
According to Home Advisor, you can expect to pay between $78 and $900 annually for HVAC repairs, with most people reporting a range of $167 to $495 annually for HVAC repairs.
Step Four: Decision Time!
So here, you have an estimate of what you might have to spend out-of-pocket on HVAC repair costs with and without opting in for an HVAC protection and prevention plan. Please feel free to contact Shiptons with any questions regarding our maintenance plans. We’d be happy to discuss your options with you, and the pros and cons of all of them, so you can make the best decision for your home and budget.