One of our Twitter followers recently asked us: “Do I need exterior sewer/septic line coverage per mailer from my water district?” Great question! I happened to get the same mailer today, offering protection for $4.99 per month. I round-filed mine, but you might want to purchase it, depending upon your circumstance and risk tolerance. This post only relates to personal properties. Contact a Maine insurance agency for advice about business property insurance.
3 Questions to Ask Yourself
1) What Repairs am I Repsonsible For vs. the Water District? In the Portland Maine Water District, you are responsible for repairing damage to the water service line on your property; the utility is responsible for supply lines that lead to your property. Finding and repairing an underground pipe leak can be expensive.
2) What Pipe Damage Does My Homeowners Insurance Cover? Water damage from burst or leaky interior plumbing is covered by most homeowners policies; repairs to the pipes themselves are not. Most homeowners policies do not cover water or sewer backup into a basement unless you buy special coverage.
Most Maine Homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage to water or sewer pipes beyond your foundation walls. Common causes of such damage are tree roots, wear and tear, and crushing by heavy equipment. For most home owners, this leaves a gap in coverage that the water district plan offers to help fill, for an additional charge
3) What is the Cost vs. Benefit of Filling this Gap? The Portland Maine Water District plan costs about $60 per year.
4 Things to Know About the Utility’s Water Service Line Program
These plans vary from district to district. These comments relate only to the plan provided by Portland Maine Water District.
1) It is not insurance. It is a service plan offered by an independent, private provider. The water district markets it to their customers, and provides billing along with water and sewer bills. Although it uses terms like “deductible”, ”coverage” and “exclusions”, the plan is not insurance; it promises to arrange for a contractor to repair your pipes, and guarantees their work for 1 year.
2) Repairs to sewer or septic pipes aren’t covered by the PWD plan – only repairs to water supply pipes.
3) The plan covers repair or replacement costs up to $3,500 per service call ($7,000 maximum per year).
4) The plan contains exclusions such as: “acts of God”, “pre-existing conditions” (exclusion wording that a homeowners policy does not have); and “faulty construction/improper maintenance” and “reduction in performance caused by normal wear and tear” (similar to homeowners policy exclusions).
So, Should I Buy the Water District Plan or Not?
If you have limited funds for emergencies, or want to avoid unexpected out-of-pocket expenses, the plan may be a good choice for you. For about $60 a year, you’re avoiding up to a $3,500 expense. But realize that coverage is limited – it only covers water supply lines, not sewer lines – and that it contains exclusions, some of which seem to be open to broad interpretation.
The Bottom Line
The plan protects you from expenses not covered by most homeowners policies, but it does not protect you against all of the bad things that can happen to your underground pipes.