Water-Sewer line insurance

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Admiral
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Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by Admiral » Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:42 am

In our city, the maintenance of the section of water and sewer lines that run from the main to the house are the responsibility of the homeowner. When there is an issue (typically collapse of cast iron sewer line) it can cost $3-5k to dig up, replace, backfill, and then repave. Many homeowners on our block have had collapses over the years and had to deal with this. By luck or chance, we have not.

There is now a private company that is offering to cover the entire cost of this repair (not preventive, only upon collapse) for $95/year. It includes everything: digging, new pipes, backfill, and repaving.

(I'm less worried about the water line but it does cover both.)

Cast iron can of course last for centuries. But, it can also collapse. My general feeling is that ours will, at some point, and we plan to be here for many years.

Is the cost worth it? It's $1000 for ten years (or likely more, since they can and likely will raise the price each year.) You must pay with a credit card and authorize them to auto-bill it once per year, cancellable at any time.

(BTW this is not covered by homeowners insurance.)

StopIroningShirts
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by StopIroningShirts » Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:44 am

I've never heard of this and want to follow. I've got a 60+ year old cast iron pipe for half of my house we've been nursing for a while.

I'm just curious what the company's history is of paying claims. That seems like a bad deal for them

Admiral
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by Admiral » Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:52 am

StopIroningShirts wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:44 am
I've never heard of this and want to follow. I've got a 60+ year old cast iron pipe for half of my house we've been nursing for a while.

I'm just curious what the company's history is of paying claims. That seems like a bad deal for them
Cast iron inside the house is not covered, if that was not clear. We have some exposed cast iron in the basement but I don't worry about that, as it's easy to spot rot. It's the buried ones that are concerning.

The company is American Water Resources, publicly traded utility.

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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:15 am

I have a policy with the same company. They will live up to their end of the bargain if you have a claim. My in-laws hold the same policy, they made a claim on a leaking water main going into the home, plumbers showed up, found the pipe was leaking, got authorization to begin work, replaced the pipe in 6 hours, done. If we had hired outside plumbers, they would have charged close to $5k, but first you’d have to find them and have them show up on the day you called (not likely).
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Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:16 am

StopIroningShirts wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:44 am
I've never heard of this and want to follow. I've got a 60+ year old cast iron pipe for half of my house we've been nursing for a while.

I'm just curious what the company's history is of paying claims. That seems like a bad deal for them
Well, I’ve paid this premium for the last 5 years, with no claim (knock wood), so clearly they are making money from those like me who make no claim.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

p_qrs_t
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by p_qrs_t » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:19 am

Admiral, we have the same system in our city-- the city itself sent out noticies stating they encourage house owners to get insurance with this company. I have a plan with Homeserve for $117/year. Several of my neighbors have been hit with bills which have exceeded $5000.

I don't anticipate using this insurance, but that's why I have it.

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jfn111
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by jfn111 » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:28 am

It can be a good insurance if you have an older house and plan on selling in the next few years. For whatever reason we have run into a rash of sewer problems during Buyer inspections this year. Sewer scoping has become more common, during inspections, and we are finding more cracked and partial collapses that we ask to have repaired. (Always a fun negotiation because they are costly to fix and the sewer seems to be working).

IowaFarmBoy
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by IowaFarmBoy » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:30 am

Here in central Illinois on a mid-60's house, we have cast iron inside the house and under the slab. When it exits the house, it switches to clay tile. I don't know if that is common elsewhere or not. We had ours replaced from the house to the street with PVC a few years ago due to tree root issues.

theshovel
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by theshovel » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:39 am

I work for the Water Dept of a major, HCOL city, diagnosing, and repairing/maintaining water and sewer mains.

I can't recommend the purchase of insurance on both lines strongly enough.

If you have a water leak on your service line, I will cite you with three day's notice. Then I'll be back to shut your line off by literally digging it up at the main and turning the valve. Same if you have a sewer leak that's running into the street or your neighbor's property. I'll shut the incoming water service off for that too. It's an extra 1k on top of the cost of the repairs for me to do that. You can yell, scream, threaten to call the City Council all you want, but I'm "gonna dig 'ya."

So you'll need to rustle up some major coin(in my city, at least 4k) in a day or two to get yourself under contract with a licensed water and sewer main contractor. Or you can call your insurance provider.

The ground freezes and shifts, tree roots grow, heavy equipment/trucks are being used on the street, locusts, earthquakes, etc... Anything and everything can cause a leak, collapse, or break.

And it will decimate an EF. Buy insurance.

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Watty
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by Watty » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:45 am

Where there is a problem do they have to replace the entire sewer line, or can they just replace a few feet where it collapsed?

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jfn111
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by jfn111 » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:52 am

Watty wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:45 am
Where there is a problem do they have to replace the entire sewer line, or can they just replace a few feet where it collapsed?
Here in the Minneapolis metro area it's common to just replace the damaged part of the line. It's always good news for the homeowner when the repair doesn't involve digging up the street. Repairing the lawn is much easier than repairing the roadway.

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TxAg
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by TxAg » Sat Nov 17, 2018 9:05 am

IowaFarmBoy wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:30 am
Here in central Illinois on a mid-60's house, we have cast iron inside the house and under the slab. When it exits the house, it switches to clay tile. I don't know if that is common elsewhere or not. We had ours replaced from the house to the street with PVC a few years ago due to tree root issues.
My home (in TX) has the same. The clay pipe collapsed about 2 years after we moved in. It cost nearly $5k

jimmo
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by jimmo » Sat Nov 17, 2018 9:09 am

We get letters at least quarterly for offers to buy this insurance. I don't buy it for the same reason I don't buy phone insurance or extended car warranties. For the things I can reasonably self-insure, I do that. Insurance/warranty companies are in the business to make money. For things that would have a meaningful impact to my bottom line, or are mandated by law, I buy insurance for - Auto, Homeowners, Health, etc. Avoid getting nickle and dimed on the small stuff unless you are exploiting a pricing inefficiency. i.e. your kid drops their phone in the toilet once a year but phone insurance cost stays fixed.

jcpct
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by jcpct » Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:55 am

I use this type of insurance for my rental property. I have not needed to use it but I figure it's cheap, it's a deductible expense and it takes away one more rental property headache. Thanks for asking this question as I like to hear others thoughts on water and sewer line insurance.

tj
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by tj » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:34 am

What companies offer this type of insurance?

b0B
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by b0B » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:51 am

StopIroningShirts wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:44 am
I've never heard of this and want to follow. I've got a 60+ year old cast iron pipe for half of my house we've been nursing for a while.
What exactly do you mean by "nursing" the pipes?

moehoward
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by moehoward » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:52 am

We had a pipe issue outside of the property line of our condo after we retired. Fortunately, we were renting while owner blamed association and association was non-respondsive. We moved into the Hilton Garden Inn at owner's expense and said let us know when its fixed. (we had no sewage) The owner told me he was not responsible for putting us up in a hotel. After I said , see you in court, the pipe problem was fixed within a week. Yes, owner paid my Hilton fees and $30 a day per diem. The bottom line, I would get the insurance for a private property.

Toadandfriends
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by Toadandfriends » Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:07 pm

Hi,
I am interested in this as well. I don't think this type of coverage can be called insurance. It is a protection plan, correct? I am wondering if the distinction matters.
Toadandfriends

mouses
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by mouses » Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:11 pm

theshovel wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:39 am
I work for the Water Dept of a major, HCOL city, diagnosing, and repairing/maintaining water and sewer mains.

I can't recommend the purchase of insurance on both lines strongly enough.

If you have a water leak on your service line, I will cite you with three day's notice. Then I'll be back to shut your line off by literally digging it up at the main and turning the valve. Same if you have a sewer leak that's running into the street or your neighbor's property. I'll shut the incoming water service off for that too. It's an extra 1k on top of the cost of the repairs for me to do that. You can yell, scream, threaten to call the City Council all you want, but I'm "gonna dig 'ya."

So you'll need to rustle up some major coin(in my city, at least 4k) in a day or two to get yourself under contract with a licensed water and sewer main contractor. Or you can call your insurance provider.

The ground freezes and shifts, tree roots grow, heavy equipment/trucks are being used on the street, locusts, earthquakes, etc... Anything and everything can cause a leak, collapse, or break.

And it will decimate an EF. Buy insurance.
I can't speak to the need for drastic action on the sewer line, but that seems rather high handled for what may be a small leak on the incoming water line that it might take several days to find a company to fix.

Why would you have to dig up the valve to shut it off, don't you have access gizmos at the street, as my town does?

(If this were my house and you unnecessarily shut the water off, I can confidently say that the water would be turned on overnight and back off again in the morning until the problem was fixed.)

mouses
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by mouses » Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:12 pm

IowaFarmBoy wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:30 am
Here in central Illinois on a mid-60's house, we have cast iron inside the house and under the slab. When it exits the house, it switches to clay tile. I don't know if that is common elsewhere or not. We had ours replaced from the house to the street with PVC a few years ago due to tree root issues.
I had that same setup in my former house, and the clay part did collapse.

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fortfun
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by fortfun » Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:46 pm

Admiral wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:42 am
In our city, the maintenance of the section of water and sewer lines that run from the main to the house are the responsibility of the homeowner. When there is an issue (typically collapse of cast iron sewer line) it can cost $3-5k to dig up, replace, backfill, and then repave. Many homeowners on our block have had collapses over the years and had to deal with this. By luck or chance, we have not.

There is now a private company that is offering to cover the entire cost of this repair (not preventive, only upon collapse) for $95/year. It includes everything: digging, new pipes, backfill, and repaving.

(I'm less worried about the water line but it does cover both.)

Cast iron can of course last for centuries. But, it can also collapse. My general feeling is that ours will, at some point, and we plan to be here for many years.

Is the cost worth it? It's $1000 for ten years (or likely more, since they can and likely will raise the price each year.) You must pay with a credit card and authorize them to auto-bill it once per year, cancellable at any time.

(BTW this is not covered by homeowners insurance.)
Do your sewer and/or water lines run under a concrete driveway? If so, removing and re-installing the driveway will be the most expensive part and the insurance probably doesn't cover that. I had a friend that paid 13k for that part alone.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:54 pm

Toadandfriends wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:07 pm
Hi,
I am interested in this as well. I don't think this type of coverage can be called insurance. It is a protection plan, correct? I am wondering if the distinction matters.
Toadandfriends
Isn't that what insurance is?

In my area most of the local cities contract directly with the insurance company, so everyone is covered. We are not in one of those cities, and just recently added coverage. On one hand, we've been here 20 years and haven't had a problem. On the other, a couple of neighbors have, and it has been expensive. In a 50 year old subdivision, it feels like time.

theshovel
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by theshovel » Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:01 pm

mouses wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:11 pm
I can't speak to the need for drastic action on the sewer line, but that seems rather high handled for what may be a small leak on the incoming water line that it might take several days to find a company to fix.

Why would you have to dig up the valve to shut it off, don't you have access gizmos at the street, as my town does?

(If this were my house and you unnecessarily shut the water off, I can confidently say that the water would be turned on overnight and back off again in the morning until the problem was fixed.)
[ quote fixed by admin LadyGeek]

Because the water pressure will probably be fine in your home, and people just let leaks go if that's the case. Leaks can also undermine the road/sidewalk, creating an imminent public health hazard. And the water itself costs money to produce.

Most properties in my city don't have curb shut offs. I can shut down a block from the street.

I can confidently say that most people confidently say that about turning their water back on. Then they have to break out about 8 inches of tampered asphalt and dig between four and six feet fresh, tampered fill.

And we know allllll the tricks.

Admiral
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by Admiral » Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:42 pm

fortfun wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:46 pm
Admiral wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:42 am
In our city, the maintenance of the section of water and sewer lines that run from the main to the house are the responsibility of the homeowner. When there is an issue (typically collapse of cast iron sewer line) it can cost $3-5k to dig up, replace, backfill, and then repave. Many homeowners on our block have had collapses over the years and had to deal with this. By luck or chance, we have not.

There is now a private company that is offering to cover the entire cost of this repair (not preventive, only upon collapse) for $95/year. It includes everything: digging, new pipes, backfill, and repaving.

(I'm less worried about the water line but it does cover both.)

Cast iron can of course last for centuries. But, it can also collapse. My general feeling is that ours will, at some point, and we plan to be here for many years.

Is the cost worth it? It's $1000 for ten years (or likely more, since they can and likely will raise the price each year.) You must pay with a credit card and authorize them to auto-bill it once per year, cancellable at any time.

(BTW this is not covered by homeowners insurance.)
Do your sewer and/or water lines run under a concrete driveway? If so, removing and re-installing the driveway will be the most expensive part and the insurance probably doesn't cover that. I had a friend that paid 13k for that part alone.
Concrete sidewalk and street. This is a rowhome in the city. The premium covers the sidewalk. The City is responsible for the street portion.

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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by abuss368 » Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:50 pm

I have heard of this insurance and I would not buy it. That said in our prior home we had a pipe break outside. The plumber chopped out the cement and replaced the section of pipe for about $1,000. The plumber told me this was a rare event.
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mbasherp
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by mbasherp » Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:59 pm

I get these offers all the time for water, sewer and gas lines. I always assumed it was for those who are easily scared into insuring against everything, no matter how unlikely. Then again, my home and development are only 20 years old. Perhaps it’s worth considering after several more decades.

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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sat Nov 17, 2018 2:03 pm

abuss368 wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:50 pm
I have heard of this insurance and I would not buy it. That said in our prior home we had a pipe break outside. The plumber chopped out the cement and replaced the section of pipe for about $1,000. The plumber told me this was a rare event.
My folks were offered the insurance by the local water utility which contracted with AWR for pipe replacement, they took the same approach as you - they didn’t buy it. Four months later, the water pipe into the house cracked, they found out it was the water pipe when the water pressure in home dropped way off, the city told them they were responsible for the repairs. It costed them 5,250. Way I figure it, if you believe $100-$160 is expensive, just wait till you have to write a $5k+ check and that is just for 1 pipe.
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by adamthesmythe » Sat Nov 17, 2018 3:03 pm

Read carefully what is covered by the insurance. When I was offered something like this, "restoration" was not included.

Digging up the pipe, replacing it, filling, and throwing grass seed is not that expensive. I would risk that. Replacing driveways, sidewalks, and plantings is expensive and may take a year or so to look right.

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abuss368
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by abuss368 » Sat Nov 17, 2018 3:17 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 2:03 pm
abuss368 wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:50 pm
I have heard of this insurance and I would not buy it. That said in our prior home we had a pipe break outside. The plumber chopped out the cement and replaced the section of pipe for about $1,000. The plumber told me this was a rare event.
My folks were offered the insurance by the local water utility which contracted with AWR for pipe replacement, they took the same approach as you - they didn’t buy it. Four months later, the water pipe into the house cracked, they found out it was the water pipe when the water pressure in home dropped way off, the city told them they were responsible for the repairs. It costed them 5,250. Way I figure it, if you believe $100-$160 is expensive, just wait till you have to write a $5k+ check and that is just for 1 pipe.
During our process we also learned that the size of the front yard (i.e. your potential exposure) has a lot to do with it. Our front yard in the prior home was not long and thus we took that risk. We have friends with substantial front yards that may consider an alternative approach.
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by Doc » Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:42 am

Our city and several others in the area have a "city sewer lateral program". IIRC a sum of money is allocated each year and it can be used by home owners on a first come first serve basis.

If you Goggle "city sewer lateral program" you might find some more data relevant to your own situation.

When I Goggled with the name of the city there were multiple cities in different states with some kind of program.
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Turbo29
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by Turbo29 » Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:00 pm

Our city is always sending out flyers for this type of insurance. I just looked it up on the city website and found this interesting fact:
"... residents have saved well over $2 Million. The program has also generated approximately $1.5 Million in revenue for crucial city services including police and fire protection, library services, and parks."
The fact that $2MM in repairs were performed and $1.5MM extra revenue was generated for the city shows how much profit is built into this type of coverage.

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unclescrooge
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by unclescrooge » Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:56 pm

I had severe root intrusion in the house I was remodeling.

It caused the sewer line to back up the flood the lower level with disgusting sludge. Luckily, the house was down to the studs so no damage.

Plumbers wanted to dig up 16ft of paved driveway, 12ft of pavement and 10ft of road to replace the clay pipe all the way to the main sewer line.

We're talking 10s of thousands of dollars.

I hired a guy to reline the pipe instead. He brought an auger to clean the tree roots that had choked the sewer line in multiple places, and created a thick PVC pipe. He warrantied it for 50years, or his life span, all for $4750.

I live in VHCOL place so this might be a lot cheaper in other parts of the country.

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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by daheld » Mon Nov 19, 2018 1:16 pm

Doc wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:42 am
Our city and several others in the area have a "city sewer lateral program". IIRC a sum of money is allocated each year and it can be used by home owners on a first come first serve basis.

If you Goggle "city sewer lateral program" you might find some more data relevant to your own situation.

When I Goggled with the name of the city there were multiple cities in different states with some kind of program.
This is good advice, but a word of caution is relevant. Just as with insurance policies, these programs will do everything in their power to not cover your claim. We sold a house 9 months or so ago and during the inspection, a cracked sewer lateral was discovered. The crack/damage was just outside the home's foundation under a concrete stoop. In talking with the manager of the program, he was very nice and assured me it would be covered after I described the location to him. After a couple weeks of hearing nothing, we were denied coverage under the municipality sewer lateral program because per their policy the damage couldn't be located under a "permanent structure", which is what they considered the front stoop. He had previously told me the program was great for people whose lines ran under a driveway. Anyway, just know that they'll do what they can to not cover your repair.

As an aside, we wound up doing a trenchless repair with a cured in place expoxy liner. It cost $3,000 and they did about 10 feet of liner. I was told the amount of liner doesn't really dictate the price--$3,000 was basically what it cost for them to do any repair and if you had a HUGE section that needed to be lined the price would increase. It took half a day for them to finish, and no digging. Highly recommend you consider this solution if it's an option.

ArmchairArchitect
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by ArmchairArchitect » Mon Nov 19, 2018 2:21 pm

Sounds like you live in Philadelphia like us. We got the same letter/offer, of course on our local scumbag politician's (Darrell Clarke) own letterhead.

My advice would be to shop this insurance out and go with the lowest priced reputable company (rather than what the city is pushing due to kickbacks they receive). Reading on my neighborhood (Fairmount) Nextdoor, people had bad things to say about AWR.

be217
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Re: Water-Sewer line insurance

Post by be217 » Mon Nov 19, 2018 2:31 pm

We get letters offering to sell this insurance multiple times per year. Everything that I've read says NOT to buy them.

A) The offer we get is for "water service line" coverage which means INCOMING water only (not sewer going out). These are much, much less likely to fail.

B) The company selling has some agreement with the local water company which allows them to plaster the water company's logo on the letterhead even though the plan itself is totally independent of the water co. You can ask yourself why they do that.

C) As another poster said, like with appliance warranties, they're sold by companies to make profit, not out of the goodness of their hearts. If you will feel better, set up a side fund and deposit $95/year for water service line coverage + whatever it costs to insure your cell phone + washer + laptop + TV + whatever. When one item fails (since you'll never know which) just dip into the fund to pay for that repair. You'll save a bunch.

Insure against things that would be financially catastrophic. Not sure for most people this qualifies.

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