Unless you've purchased a brand-new home that includes warranties on the newly installed systems and appliances, there's no guarantee you're covered for repair or replacement if something stops working in your new place. One way for buyers of pre-owned homes to protect themselves against the risk of costly repairs is to consider purchasing a home warranty.

A few things you should know about home warranties:

1. They’re NOT homeowner’s insurance.

Homeowner's insurance generally protects the structure of your home and your possessions inside your home, while warranties cover appliances and systems. For example, some things covered by a warranty would be repairs to your furnace, hot water heater or electrical system. Homeowner’s insurance, on the other hand, typically covers repairs of damage to the home from theft, fire and some weather-related incidents; it also covers injuries that are caused by these types of incidents.

2.  They’re not all-inclusive.

Although warranties usually include HVAC, plumbing and electrical, they do not include everything you might personally consider a “system” or “appliance.” It depends on the specific policy. For example, some basic policies cover septic systems; others don’t. Talk with your warranty issuer to make sure you're getting the coverage you want and need.

3. They cover the unknown.

Any existing issues with your systems and appliances should have been found during your home inspection and addressed prior to you taking ownership of the home, if you negotiated repairs and replacements. Warranty companies consider problems identified during a home inspection as “known conditions,” and often don’t cover them. Home warranties generally cover “unknown conditions,” issues that would not have been revealed through a normal home inspection or ones that develop after you move in.

4. They won’t break the bank.

Generally, home warranties range from about $350 to $500 per year. Often, it’s up to you to purchase a policy. Other times, sellers may include a policy as added incentive during negotiation of the home sale. Some real estate agents give homebuyers a home warranty as a gift after the home purchase is settled.

5. They come with fine print.

There are a number of companies that offer home warranties. Ask your agent for guidance on where to turn. And be sure to read the entire policy to confirm exactly what’s covered, to what extent and the steps you’ll take if you ever need to file a claim.

6. They’re great for first-timers.

Home warranties can be especially helpful in providing peace of mind for first-time homebuyers who are unfamiliar with home maintenance and repairs – as well as buyers of high-mileage homes – especially during the first year.

For guidance on home warranties and all facets of the homebuying process, find a local RE/MAX agent who's ready to help.