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SALT LAKE CITY — If you own property in Salt Lake City, you may have received an advertisement for private sewer line insurance on government letterhead.
The insurance is being offered because homeowners are responsible to care for lateral sewer lines leading to the city's main line.
“This is a program, a service that our council said that if people want this, they can come to get that service through them (the company in the ad). But it’s not required,” said Tom Ward, the city's public utilities deputy director.
Ward said HomeServe won a $70,000 bid to pitch the coverage. Finance Administrator Jim Lewis said former councilwoman Jill Remington Love suggested the idea.
“She had a problem with her sewer line that had to be repaired not once, but twice, because she had a bad plumber. She was very interested in finding a program to resolve issues,” he said.
Any profits will help pay utility bills of the needy. Coverage is not mandatory.
Officials with the Utah Taxpayers Association said they appreciate Salt Lake City warning homeowners that they are liable for that part of the sewer line.
“We understand that Salt Lake faces difficulties in alerting homeowners that they may be responsible for this,” said Heidi Erickson, the association’s research analyst.
She said there isn’t anything improper or unethical about HomeServe’s bid to have its services promoted on Salt Lake City’s letterhead, but, the association wonders if the city handled it correctly.
She feels the city should have done more to let homeowners know about other companies who also made a bid.
“The government shouldn’t be choosing winners and losers in the market,” she said.
However, she said the association was informed by the state Insurance Commission that HomeServe is the only company that is fully licensed to provide that kind of insurance.