Water and Sewer Line Insurance

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aburntoutcase
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Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by aburntoutcase »

I keep getting these offers from my water utility (American Water) to purchase water and sewer line repairs insurance for $10/month ($15/month after first year). I checked with my home insurer and they don't offer an add-on for this. Is this something people would recommend? I am a first time home owner (1.5 years) so not a lot of experience.
bradinsky
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by bradinsky »

How old is your abode?
chemocean
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by chemocean »

I don't think type of insurance was offered to me, but my father had it on the East Coast. I wish I had such insurance now.
I own a 26-year old house and was told by the water company that have a leak that is at least 3-gals per hour. The water utility just put in digital meters and they monitoring instantaneous use between midnight and 5 am. The leak probably start during a freeze during the middle of November. The leak has been increasing about 1 gal per hour per every two week.
By shutting off various valves, I have isolated the leak in 72 feet of the underground main water line in the T between the water meter at the street, the house shut-off valve and the back-flow protector for the irrigation system.
I was told that I would have to wait until the leak got to 8 to 10 gals per hour for the sonic/gas methods to detect the underground location of the leak. It will cost about $500 to just isolate the leak and who knows how much to dig to water main and repair it. Hopefully, there is only one leak.
The only good news is that I was told by the water company that I would be reimbursed for the leaked water once they confirmed the leak was fixed.
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Cosmo
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by Cosmo »

These policies are great deals for the sellers of the said policies. We get them all the time for our gas line. If they weren't such a big moneymaker for them, they wouldn't be so aggressive with the selling.

Cosmo
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Tubes
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by Tubes »

This is very situation dependent. It isn't for most, but could be good for few.

In my neighborhood, over 50% of the homes have had to have their water line replaced. (Sewer generally OK.) It is due to the type of material used and specifics of our soils.

In most of the homes, the supply line is 1 to 2 feet deep (south). It isn't terrible to replace, around $500 or so. A few years of premiums would cost as much.

My line is down 8 ft for half of the yard. My neighbor has similar, and 15 years ago he spent 4k getting it replaced. It would require major excavation, OSHA shoring, etc. Mine might be over 8k today.

So, I got the insurance for $8 a month. It is the only kind of warranty insurance I ever bought.
gtd98765
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by gtd98765 »

A consumer magazine recommends against them (no paywall): https://www.checkbook.org/washington-ar ... arranties/
But HomeServe’s own numbers reveal a key issue: Divide that $232 million in repair bills by the 400,000 claimants and the average payout was just $580.
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turtlebug
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by turtlebug »

I would not personally purchase this type of insurance; rather, I would make sure that I am putting enough money aside in savings to cover emergency expenses such as this.
suemarkp
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by suemarkp »

I've had two houses with water main leaks. First was a bush planted to close to it and its roots pushed the water line up until it cracked (22 yr old pipe). The second house was done with thin wall polyethylene, probably also about 22 yrs old, and it developed pinholes from our high pressure (90 PSI).

In both cases I dug up the leaking area. In the first I just patched it, and intended to dig up the line later and never did (and it never leaked again for the 8 additional years we lived there). The second one I did not trust the entire pipe so I dug it all up. It was 18" down for most of the 150' length, but it did go down to 4' for about 30' and crossed under a concrete sidewalk. Replaced it with heavy wall polyethylene and a larger size (1" versus the 3/4 that was there).

So this comes down to the same decision most insurance comes to: how expensive will it be to replace it (depth, length, entire pipe -vs- repair only the leak), how likely is it to occur (age, materials, pressure, corrosion, trees/bushes planted too close), can you afford to fix it or can you fix it yourself.
Mark | Somewhere in WA State
TLC1957
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by TLC1957 »

Daughter purchased a 40 year home with beautiful trees in the front yard in 2021. Sewer line is 200’ long to the house from the street. I told her to check with her insurance carrier if they provided coverage for water and sewer lines, yes Dad $45 for $25k coverage, good buy it! November 2022 problem with the toilet not flushing and water backing up in the laundry room. Turns out the sewer line was broken by a tree, cost to repair $24.5k. No problem she paid her $500 deductible problem solved!!

Dad & Daughter happy…lol
j.click
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by j.click »

My long serving plumber recommends sewer line insurance - that is where the real $ liability lies (pun intended)...
andypanda
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by andypanda »

We get the water and sewer line offer in the mail every month or three. My wife always asks if we should sign up now. I point out the small print that says it covers the lines "from the street to the house".

Then I remind her our well and septic lines are in the back yard.
(fwiw, the northern half of our county zip code has water and sewer service.)

Yes, other companies offer well and septic coverage. No, I'm not buying it.
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ClevrChico
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by ClevrChico »

Insurance is for risks that you cannot self-insure against. If you can afford a one-time, expensive plumbing bill, pass on the insurance.
jodhpur
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by jodhpur »

A friend in Boston had a single family home that had a master sewer line issue. He luckily had the insurance--maybe even by accident. Cost upwards of $40K to fix it. City engineering, digging up the street, shutting down everything, etc. I think if I had a single family home in a major city I'd entertain it.
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kevinf
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by kevinf »

ClevrChico wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 10:29 am Insurance is for risks that you cannot self-insure against. If you can afford a one-time, expensive plumbing bill, pass on the insurance.
I think this statement is a bit reductive. Firstly, you don't necessarily know how much the bill is going to be... there are several different examples in this thread of people quoting $40k+ bills which is brand new car or house down-payment kind of money. If the insurance costs you $500/yr (expensive coverage, mine is $100/yr), that would be $5,000 per decade which is 80 years of coverage if you choose NOT to insure and get hit with a $40k bill. If nothing happens, then the insurance cost would be pretty insignificant for anyone not struggling to pay their bills.

If we go with what I pay for coverage at $100/yr (reasonable), then a $10,000 bill (reasonable) would mean that I'd need to pay for a century of coverage to come out ahead by self-insuring.
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Tubes
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by Tubes »

kevinf wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 3:23 pm If we go with what I pay for coverage at $100/yr (reasonable), then a $10,000 bill (reasonable) would mean that I'd need to pay for a century of coverage to come out ahead by self-insuring.
That's exactly the calculation I did, down to the number.

I don't have any other product warranties. I've just seen what neighbors have gone through and the subsequent wailing and gnashing of teeth. But only on our side of the street. The other side of the street has shallow pipes. This is a very specific need, but the utility will sell it to anyone so they are way ahead.
as9
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by as9 »

We have it. It's around $150/yr and two of our neighbors have had to use it in the last few years because of old pipes. If they haven't been replaced (which ours haven't) then they are from 1920-1940 and very prone to tree roots and other things. Both jobs on our street cost $10-15k not factoring the landscaping mess.
criticalmass
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by criticalmass »

Cosmo wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 12:40 pm These policies are great deals for the sellers of the said policies. We get them all the time for our gas line. If they weren't such a big moneymaker for them, they wouldn't be so aggressive with the selling.

Cosmo
Our gas line is the responsibility of the gas company to the meter output. Inside the house it is black pipe in good shape. I wouldn't
insure that, but water/sewer lines are another matter.
Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

Year and half ago my neighbor shelled out $10k for a new polyethylene sewer pipe, his front lawn was a mess for a good bit of time. I have that insurance for water and sewer, it costs me $240 a year. My other neighbor had to repair his water line, no insurance/cost him $6k. It will take 65 years for me to shell out 16k in premiums and the cost of repairs will surely increase over time.
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nydoc
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by nydoc »

Is home insurance covering sewer back up is different than sewer/water line insurance?
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KSOC
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by KSOC »

I have coverage via my homeowners policy for $25k. The add on covers a lot of things normal polices don't.
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Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

nydoc wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 6:22 pm Is home insurance covering sewer back up is different than sewer/water line insurance?
The home insurance covering sewer back-up is if the raw sewage backs up into your abode/basement, usually capped at some low number dollars wise.
The sewer/water line insurance is offered by an external water utility company affiliate - American Water Resources, it covers the actual repair/replacement of the water line from the street to your house connection and/or the actual sewer pipe that runs from the main in the street to your house. My house was built 90 years ago, hence its a good idea that although they built things to last back then, they don't last forever like high density polyethylene pipe does today.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions
yeah
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by yeah »

KSOC wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 7:01 pm I have coverage via my homeowners policy for $25k. The add on covers a lot of things normal polices don't.
I also have "service line" coverage as a rider on my homeowners. It's an additional $25 a year.
Agent 99
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by Agent 99 »

The envelope and letters for this type of insurance made it appear to be officially offered by the utility. Reading the fine print it turned out the utilities had nothing to do with it. Regarding whether to purchase or not I decided against it after researching. Major complaints associated with these policies revolved around contractor response time, quality and other issues relating to the provider trying to keep their outlays to a minimum.
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aburntoutcase
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by aburntoutcase »

bradinsky wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 12:16 pm How old is your abode?
This insurance is for the lines connecting the mains to the inlet of the home I believe, not inside the home. The home itself is 90 years old but a lot of the pipes inside look pretty new.
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aburntoutcase
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by aburntoutcase »

chemocean wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 12:27 pm I don't think type of insurance was offered to me, but my father had it on the East Coast. I wish I had such insurance now.
I own a 26-year old house and was told by the water company that have a leak that is at least 3-gals per hour. The water utility just put in digital meters and they monitoring instantaneous use between midnight and 5 am. The leak probably start during a freeze during the middle of November. The leak has been increasing about 1 gal per hour per every two week.
By shutting off various valves, I have isolated the leak in 72 feet of the underground main water line in the T between the water meter at the street, the house shut-off valve and the back-flow protector for the irrigation system.
I was told that I would have to wait until the leak got to 8 to 10 gals per hour for the sonic/gas methods to detect the underground location of the leak. It will cost about $500 to just isolate the leak and who knows how much to dig to water main and repair it. Hopefully, there is only one leak.
The only good news is that I was told by the water company that I would be reimbursed for the leaked water once they confirmed the leak was fixed.
Thank you for discussing your experience. Unless I am interpreting this incorrectly it doesn't seem the water utility is going to charge you for the leak repairs?
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aburntoutcase
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by aburntoutcase »

Cosmo wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 12:40 pm These policies are great deals for the sellers of the said policies. We get them all the time for our gas line. If they weren't such a big moneymaker for them, they wouldn't be so aggressive with the selling.

Cosmo
Yeah I get a mailer every month like clockwork.
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aburntoutcase
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by aburntoutcase »

Tubes wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 12:59 pm This is very situation dependent. It isn't for most, but could be good for few.

In my neighborhood, over 50% of the homes have had to have their water line replaced. (Sewer generally OK.) It is due to the type of material used and specifics of our soils.

In most of the homes, the supply line is 1 to 2 feet deep (south). It isn't terrible to replace, around $500 or so. A few years of premiums would cost as much.

My line is down 8 ft for half of the yard. My neighbor has similar, and 15 years ago he spent 4k getting it replaced. It would require major excavation, OSHA shoring, etc. Mine might be over 8k today.

So, I got the insurance for $8 a month. It is the only kind of warranty insurance I ever bought.
I see so looks like I should first try to find out the depth of the supply line first. If deep then worth getting the insurance.
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aburntoutcase
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by aburntoutcase »

Thank you all for the replies I got more replies than I thought this question would elicit. Seems like the key variables are how long is the distance from the water mains to your water inlet and how deep is the pipe buried and potential for line being impacted by trees and shrubbery. The distance to our inlet should be fairly short and all of our big trees are in the backyard. However depth of line seems like something to find out. Maybe worth getting it just for the peace of mind it is only $15/mo would be one of the lowest cost items in all that a homeowner has to deal with.
bradinsky
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by bradinsky »

aburntoutcase wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 7:44 pm
bradinsky wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 12:16 pm How old is your abode?
This insurance is for the lines connecting the mains to the inlet of the home I believe, not inside the home. The home itself is 90 years old but a lot of the pipes inside look pretty new.
The purpose of my question was to get an idea as to how old the exterior lines are. The age of the home would be indicative of the age of the sewer & water lines. Clay sewer pipe is more likely to have issues that newer PVC or ABS lines. Ditto for older water lines.
suemarkp
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by suemarkp »

aburntoutcase wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 7:53 pm Thank you all for the replies I got more replies than I thought this question would elicit. Seems like the key variables are how long is the distance from the water mains to your water inlet and how deep is the pipe buried and potential for line being impacted by trees and shrubbery. The distance to our inlet should be fairly short and all of our big trees are in the backyard. However depth of line seems like something to find out. Maybe worth getting it just for the peace of mind it is only $15/mo would be one of the lowest cost items in all that a homeowner has to deal with.
One way to assess depth is by location. Water pipes should be buried below the frost line. So if you are in Montana or Maine, it will probably be 6' down or more. Ohio is 4'. Seattle is 18", and Florida or southern California could be shallower. The part of mine that was 4' deep is because it is a daylight basement and they put a lot of fill on that side. I can see the water pipe enters the room half way up the wall and the outside dirt goes to the ceiling in that area.

You may also have a lid in your yard with a WATER label on it. That could be a shutoff. How deep down is that hole?
Mark | Somewhere in WA State
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Tubes
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by Tubes »

suemarkp wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 11:29 pm
aburntoutcase wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 7:53 pm Thank you all for the replies I got more replies than I thought this question would elicit. Seems like the key variables are how long is the distance from the water mains to your water inlet and how deep is the pipe buried and potential for line being impacted by trees and shrubbery. The distance to our inlet should be fairly short and all of our big trees are in the backyard. However depth of line seems like something to find out. Maybe worth getting it just for the peace of mind it is only $15/mo would be one of the lowest cost items in all that a homeowner has to deal with.
One way to assess depth is by location. Water pipes should be buried below the frost line. So if you are in Montana or Maine, it will probably be 6' down or more. Ohio is 4'. Seattle is 18", and Florida or southern California could be shallower. The part of mine that was 4' deep is because it is a daylight basement and they put a lot of fill on that side. I can see the water pipe enters the room half way up the wall and the outside dirt goes to the ceiling in that area.

You may also have a lid in your yard with a WATER label on it. That could be a shutoff. How deep down is that hole?
Also have a daylight basement, which is a bit unusual in my area, but not unusual on my side of the street which is a hill. That's how I know depth.

Additionally, I know what my neighbors have gone through.

The my typical setup in my area is only 18" deep leading to a home on crawl space. I would not get the insurance for that.
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Cosmo
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by Cosmo »

criticalmass wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 5:39 pm
Cosmo wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 12:40 pm These policies are great deals for the sellers of the said policies. We get them all the time for our gas line. If they weren't such a big moneymaker for them, they wouldn't be so aggressive with the selling.

Cosmo
Our gas line is the responsibility of the gas company to the meter output. Inside the house it is black pipe in good shape. I wouldn't
insure that, but water/sewer lines are another matter.
I am always very skeptical of a company aggressive peddling insurance of any kind. More than likely, there is something in it for them and not you.
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lthenderson
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by lthenderson »

aburntoutcase wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 7:53 pm Maybe worth getting it just for the peace of mind it is only $15/mo would be one of the lowest cost items in all that a homeowner has to deal with.
In my opinion, questions like this just elicit "survivor bias." You are going to gets lots of feedback from those that have it and collected or wished they had but very few from the overwhelming majority who didn't purchase it and have never had any issues. As posted above, these are huge money makers for insurance companies and you are better off to self insure. This would give me more piece of mind than giving away money to those trying to make money off of me.
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kevinf
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by kevinf »

lthenderson wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 12:16 pm
aburntoutcase wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 7:53 pm Maybe worth getting it just for the peace of mind it is only $15/mo would be one of the lowest cost items in all that a homeowner has to deal with.
In my opinion, questions like this just elicit "survivor bias." You are going to gets lots of feedback from those that have it and collected or wished they had but very few from the overwhelming majority who didn't purchase it and have never had any issues. As posted above, these are huge money makers for insurance companies and you are better off to self insure. This would give me more piece of mind than giving away money to those trying to make money off of me.
We live in a capitalist society, few products are ever offered that aren't expected turn a profit. You could argue that all insurance should be socialized or non-profit subsidized if you want.
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imbogled
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by imbogled »

Insurance like this reminds me of the cartoon episode from 1952 with Porky Pig and Daffy Duck called, " Fool Coverage".

"Ultimately, Porky is convinced that his home is indeed full of hazards, and he agrees to take out the insurance policy. Daffy soon reveals the fine print, according to which the $1 million will be paid only for a black eye incurred in the course of a stampede of wild elephants in his house between 3:55 and 4:00 pm on the Fourth of July during a hailstorm". Quoted from Wikipedia

Fear of the fine print!
sleepy06
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by sleepy06 »

I'd echo seeing what it would cost to get it through homeowners as another data point. Although, if you use it may cause rates to go up.
Perhaps you can gather more data and you an inspection from the street to your home. If everything looks good, very unlikely you will ever need it.
Another way of looking at it-if it is $15/month and the bills are as expensive as people are saying, they don't pay out much. And, they can still make a nice profit even after all the mailers.
j.click
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by j.click »

Or perhaps you live in a 50 yr old neighborhood like mine where all the sewer lines were installed by the same developer using "Orangeburg" pipe and you have already witnessed five close neighbors replace their lines for $20K + each. I have asked each plumber/contractor what my odds are and they all say "it's only a matter of time and time is short". Sewer line insurance figures to be a good investment whether I need it or the next owner will....
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Tubes
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by Tubes »

j.click wrote: Thu Jan 26, 2023 5:30 pm Or perhaps you live in a 50 yr old neighborhood like mine where all the sewer lines were installed by the same developer using "Orangeburg" pipe and you have already witnessed five close neighbors replace their lines for $20K + each. I have asked each plumber/contractor what my odds are and they all say "it's only a matter of time and time is short". Sewer line insurance figures to be a good investment whether I need it or the next owner will....
So they made sewer pipe out of paper mache with a bit of tar thrown in and the pipes subsequently leaked and collapsed. Wow, didn't see that coming. /sarc
j.click
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by j.click »

Yep, "contractor grade"....
UNCHEEL
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by UNCHEEL »

If you talk to enough people, you're bound to come across someone who was "saved" by such a policy. But, like most product insurance/extended warranties, it's a high margin business with expected payouts <40% of the cost.

I get these offers all the time, even though I'm on a well.
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Tubes
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Re: Water and Sewer Line Insurance

Post by Tubes »

Not to beat a dead horse, but I will.

It all comes down to your trench depth. The cost of the fix literally goes up 10x when the trench gets deep.

What's deep? 4 ft. is the start, and definitely below 5 ft. There's no getting away from this, OSHA is very strict. Perhaps you remember having digging work done when you were a kid or younger? Forget about it. It has all changed. Trenching requirements today are very strict, and for good reason.

If my pipes were at 4 ft. or shallower, I would skip insurance. Beyond that, it is worth considering if there are other factors (Orangeburg pipe, for example).
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