SEWER, WATER-LINE INSURANCE--DO YOU NEED IT?

Posted by Joan Coogan on Friday, January 24th, 2014 at 11:24am

A year ago, I received a letter from the DEP "inviting" me to purchase insurance to cover the cost of repair to the aging sewer and water lines that exist on Staten Island. I mulled it over, held on to the letter for a number of months and eventually sent it to the circular file.  

Recently, I again received the same letter from the DEP urging me to purchase said insurance which is being offered by American Water Resources.  Only 14% of all Staten Island homeowners have signed up for this program. Of the City's estimated 600,000 homeowners, only 103,021 homeowners have enrolled.

The cost is $4.49 a month for the water line protection and $7.99 a month for the sewer line protection. There are exclusions, naturally, to the insurance coverage.  The protection does not cover repairs "not resulting from normal wear and usage, such as age of the home, the age and pipe material of the water line, as well as the shifting of soil and settling of gound around the line."  OK, that's good to know.  The problems NOT resulting from normal wear and usage would be natural acts or disasters such as earthquakes [hurricanes, floods?] or issues that were caused by the homeowner or a third party, such as digging through the lawn or a broken line caused by a street collapse. Leaks and breaks are covered; clogs or blockages are not covered unless the clog or blockage was caused by a leak or break to the line.  Typical insurance jargon!


A number of years ago, my family suffered through a water line break.  The basement was flooded, and a plumbing contractor was hired.  Family members cleaned up the basement, salvaging furniture and belongings, disposing of junk and working for hours into the night. The plumbers worked for a good 24 hours day and night digging up the front yard to the connections, digging up the street outside.  I could not locate the bills that were incurred so I am not able to determine what the cost would be to complete the job in today's dollars.  

The sewer line is another unknown.  I live on the North Shore of Staten Island in an 1800's house that was formerly the maid's quarters of the "Estate" .  (The Estate  Manor house still exists across the street from my humble abode.) The sewer line begins with my home, extends through the back yard of my neighbor and then into the main street under a commercial strip of stores.  As a child, I remember witnessing plumbers digging through our side yard, into the neighbor's yard, into the main sewer line to find the clogged sewer line.  In other words, I share the sewer line with my neighbor--a four family home.  A few years ago, I again experienced a clogged sewer line, but it was repaired by the City at no expense to me.  (The neighboring house was foreclosed and the clog originated with them.)  The new owner maintains the sewer line periodically, and the problem has been solved. The sewer line protection covers the sewer service lateral from the exterior wall of the home to the point where it connects to either the NYC DEP's main or septic tank.  

Do we need insurance?  Is protection needed if sewers have only been installed in last 10 or so years as on the South Shore?  How long do sewer lines last?  How much would these repairs cost? Why have only 14% of Staten Islanders enrolled in this insurance?  Do the Have's know something that the Have Not's do not know?  

If you have more extensive knowledge of this insurance protection program--the pros and cons--I would like to hear from you.  

Joan Coogan

Associate Real Estate Broker

Gillani Homes

646-258-9696 – cell

 

 

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