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City Helps Fill Sewer Line Coverage Gap in Home Insurance Policies

Posted in Home Insurance
by: Jessica Bosari

May 5th, 2014

sewer line collapse

Residents in Royal Oak, Mich. are learning that a standard homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover the cost of a collapsed sewer line. That’s why the city is working with a warranty company to help homeowners pay for the cost should a sewer line break. A warranty program can be a good way to supplement homeowners insurance – but only when the homeowner really needs it.

Fixing the Gap in Coverage for Sewer Line Collapse

According to Royal Oak’s Daily Tribune, city residents suffer “at least a couple dozen” sewer line collapses a year. Although pipes in the main sewer line are the city’s responsibility, most cities place the burden of collapsed lines running from the home to the main line on homeowners.

A collapsed sewer line can cost $3,500 or more to repair. A collapse can also damage city streets, leaving the homeowner to pay for those repairs, as well. To address the problem, Mayor Jim Ellison recently sent letters to residents informing them of a warranty program from Service Line Warranties of America. Participation in the program costs homeowners $8.50 per month.

Warranty Not Necessary for Everyone

Homes built in the 1970s and earlier likely have eroding sewer lines. Plant roots infiltrate clay or cast-iron pipes, weakening them. No one knows when the sewer line will collapse, but sooner or later it’s likely to happen. And, in cases of collapse due to age, there is no coverage from a homeowner’s policy.

But newer homes, or those with replaced sewer lines, might not need a warranty. Modern sewer lines, made from PVC plastics, have an indefinite life expectancy, according to Houselogic. If pipes were replaced with cast iron, the life expectancy is about 100 years. Knowing when the sewer lines were installed and the material used helps determine if coverage is needed at all.

Homeowners can also use herbicides if they know they have a problem with roots infiltrating a sewer line. Pouring a root killer down the line annually will stop roots from blocking the pipe and further weakening its structure.

Photo credit: Walter Siegmund

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