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SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake residents recently received a letter from the director of the Salt Lake City Public Utilities Department for water and sewer insurance.
It's a unique offer from HomeServe that's confusing some homeowners and flooding the city offices with questions and complaints.
Fixing an exterior sewer line or water service line can be extremely expensive. It can cost $10,000 to $12,000, and, depending on where the break is located, the homeowner could be left paying the bill.
More than 72,000 homeowners in Salt Lake City and surrounding Salt Lake County got a notice in the mail asking them to sign up for insurance coverage. Utility managers say the program answers a specific need: an aging infrastructure.
“Our system is aging,” said Jim Lewis with the city's utilities department. “Fifty percent of our water lines and sewers are over 60 years old. Not only are our water lines and sewer lines old, but the laterals that go to the homes are the same age.”
Signing up for the insurance covers sewer line repairs from the home all the way to the street. Without it, any problems or repairs from the home to the curb are the homeowner’s responsibility.
So far, more than 7,300 have signed up for the insurance. The city says 151 claims have been satisfied so far.
Andrew Jensen will not be one of those customers. He said he doesn't need the coverage and is put off by the solicitation.
“I don't know if the city is involved or how deeply they're involved,” Jensen said. “If they are involved and are promoting a private business, I think that's inappropriate.”
City leaders researched this coverage for five years before deciding on HomeServe. They admit the coverage isn't for everyone.
“If you have an older home, it's a very good product,” Lewis said. “If you have a newer home, this is not for you.”
The city knows a lot of people have legitimate questions about the program, but overall feel good about the coverage — good enough to start offering water line coverage as well.