If you’re a homeowner then you’ve probably been receiving a rash of junk mail lately, explaining the importance of buying insurance for the water line running from the street in front of your house, to the meter inside your house. If you’re like most people, you probably hadn’t given it much thought before you started getting those pesky mailers.
But Who Is Responsible For That Pipe?
Your local utility company is responsible for the water main up to the valve that goes to your house. They are responsible for the meter inside of your house. So, wouldn’t they also be responsible for the pipe running between the two? In a word, NO. The homeowner is ultimately responsible for that pipe.
Is This Something To Worry About?
Generally speaking, these pipes rarely burst or even spring leaks. That’s not to say that it can’t happen, but it is rare. If you’re sufficiently scared, the first call you should make is to your utility company or local public works department. They will be able to tell you how often they’ve had to deal with this issue, and if it’s something you should be overly concerned with. Obviously, the older your house, the more chance of something giving way due to old age; but again, if you haven’t seen or heard of other people with similar vintage homes having such problems, then you’re probably not at much risk either.
What If You’re Wrong, Plumber Guy?
If you’re still worried, then the next call should be to a plumber. If you’re familiar with reputable local plumbers, call one of them. They will be able to steer you in the right direction. A plumber will have a pretty good idea of what kind of costs you’ll incur. Of course there are several factors. How long is the line from the main to your house? What sorts of obstacles are in the way (sidewalks, stone walls, driveways, etc.?) How deep is the line? The amount of time it takes to find the leak, the extent of the repairs, and the length of pipe needed are also major factors. The costs can run up to a few thousand dollars.
Do You Think I Should Buy The Insurance?
Whether or not to buy the insurance is clearly a personal choice. Before you do, however, there are some things to consider. Does your homeowner’s insurance cover this? Some policies have it included, and some companies can attach a rider to your insurance to cover this. If you’re thinking of buying through your homeowner’s insurance company, or even buying a separate policy, you’ll need to consider the cost of the added insurance and how long before paying for it becomes more costly than the repair. Can you take the money you would spend on the added insurance and put it aside? If so, you would have control of the money, and it could cover a multitude of emergencies instead of just this one. Financial advisers can help with this endeavor. Perhaps most importantly, read through the entire policy, especially the fine print. You will need to see what kind of damage is actually covered, and what kind of damage is not.
Before you actually buy the insurance, consult with your friends who may have similar policies, or talk to an insurance agent that you know and trust. Some fly-by-night policies are written in such a broad and confusing manner that you would probably need the likes of Perry Mason if you did try to cash in.
There is a comfort level that comes with having an insurance policy. However, when it comes to water main insurance, make sure you have all the facts and figures before you shell out the cash. What are the risks? What are the costs? What kind of coverage are you actually getting? What’s the opinion of the local plumbers or utility operators? Is the insurance company reputable? How are they rated with the Better Business Bureau or other rating agencies? You should also check your state’s consumer affairs department. They have information on companies’ reputations, so you’re not left high and dry when your water service is interrupted.