Portland Water District has contracted with HomeServe to sell service plans for underground exterior supply and sewer pipes for several years. We’ve posted our advice on these before (see “Should I Buy Water Line Coverage from My Water District?”).
Today, we saw a new offer from PWD, also from HomeServe. It’s called Interior Plumbing and Drainage System Coverage. Here’s how it works: If you have a water or sewer backup inside your home, Homeserve sends a contractor to clear the backup or replace the pipe if necessary. They’ll cover the cost up to $2,500 per visit (max 2 per year).
Like HomeServe’s exterior pipe program, this is NOT INSURANCE. It’s a “service agreement”. The cost is $9.99 per month, about $120 per year. If you own a multi-family, you have to buy a separate agreement for each apartment.
For most people, we don’t think so. Here’s why:
- Most backups are caused by system overflow or blockages in the sewer or drain. Pipes themselves are very rarely damaged;
- The program doesn’t cover the pipes outside the walls of your home. You have to buy the separate agreement to get that coverage;
- It doesn’t cover the most expensive parts of a water or sewer backup:
- damage to your home or belongings;
- clean up costs to remove water or sewage from your home.
- You don’t get to choose your own plumber. You have to use the HomeServe contractor;
- It’s expensive. A typical plumber’s bill to clear a blocked line is $100-$150. Unless you have frequent drain issues, you’re better off putting the $10 a month aside to pay your own plumber if the need arises. Within a year or so, you would have enough to pay for a typical plumber’s visit.
Is This Already Covered by Your Homeowners Policy?
In short, no. “Off the shelf” homeowners policies cover neither damage to pipes; the cost to unclog them; nor property damage from a water or sewer backup.
Most insurance companies sell optional water or sewer backup coverage. This doesn’t cover the plumber’s bill in case of a backup, but it does cover the resulting water or sewer damage to your property. That can cost a LOT more than the $150 plumber’s bill. Yet, the insurance costs much less than PWD’s HomeServe offering. Most companies charge $60-$75 per year.
We do recommend buying water or sewer backup coverage, especially if you have:
- a finished basement;
- a sump pump or drain in your basement;
- a sewer cleanout or other plumbing in your basement floor.
If you have questions about water backup or any other insurance questions, contact your insurance agent or Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance. We’re independent and committed to you.