Frustration at the time of a claim often stems from a client expecting their policy to cover something that it doesn’t. There is no worse feeling as an agent than discovering your insured had a loss that is not covered when they anticipated it would be.
Agents do their very best to explain how your policy works and what is covered. However, the policy contract is quite lengthy and not fully summarized on the declarations page. To understand the full scope of how your policy works, you have to actually read the policy contract language the company provides you.
You know that huge packet of info you usually get when you purchase a policy or when your policy renews?
Yep, that’s it.
That is your policy.
There is valuable info in there!
The policy contract outlines the specifics about how the policy works, what’s covered, what’s excluded, and all the other details that will equate to you either being a happy or unhappy camper at the time of a loss.
Ok, OK! I get it! It isn’t exactly the most exhilarating read. It can be a little on the dry side, but I still recommend that you try. You might be surprised to find your policy does more than what you expect it to. You also might find it doesn’t do what you thought it would. In reality, both are good outcomes as you have learned more about your policy and are now equipped to talk with your agent about it.
Typically, underground service lines running from the street to your house or from the house to an outbuilding have not been covered on a home policy. That alone has been a major frustration with insureds and their homeowners policy.
You might assume that some of them are not even your responsibility, like a gas line.
Wouldn’t that be the responsibility of the gas company?
Wouldn’t the water line from the street be the responsibility of the city?
In most municipalities, ordinances say that the ownership, maintenance, repairs or replacement of those lines are your responsibility as the homeowners.
The cost of these repairs can escalate pretty quickly. Imagine a water line that runs from the street, through your front yard, under your landscaping, sidewalk and deck on the front of the house. Now that has to all be excavated to make the repair and then replaced afterwards. You can see how this can turn into thousands of dollars pretty quickly, and historically, that would all be on you, the client, to pay out of pocket.
Thankfully, there is a new homeowner’s insurance coverage that a number of companies have begun to offer called Service Line Coverage. In short, it will cover damage to underground service lines that run from the street to your house or from the house to an outbuilding.
While this coverage and how it works does vary by company, there are some similarities between them all. Of the companies we represent that offer it, they all cover leaks, breaks, tears or ruptures to the following types of underground service lines:
Telecommunication Lines (phone/internet)
Water lines that connect to a public water supply or private well
Some of our companies also include:
Compressed air lines
Drain piping that leads water away from the house
Natural Gas lines
It’s important to note that this only applies to underground lines.
Where this gets interesting (OK, maybe I’m just an insurance nerd) is that some of the causes of loss that this will cover are not typically covered causes of loss under a home policy and in fact, are usually specifically excluded from coverage.
Typically a home policy is meant to cover large unexpected or unforeseeable losses and is not meant to cover things that are maintenance or upkeep issues. Although, over the years, we have seen companies begin to offer new coverages that are more maintenance related or in some cases more like warranty coverage.
Service Line Coverage will cover some maintenance related damage. Some of the covered causes of loss include:
Wear and Tear
Hidden or Latent Defect
Electrical and Mechanical System Breakdown
That is an almost a word for word list of common exclusions for most coverages on a home policy, yet here they are, covered under Service Line Coverage!
Some even take it a step further and include Power Surge and Tree Root Invasion. That last one is a big one. One of the most common types of service line repairs is when roots invade a sewer line and start to cause backups.
Some will also include what they call “Green Upgrade” coverage which will cover the additional cost of upgrading the service line to an option that is either more environmentally friendly or efficient.
The limits you can purchase for this coverage vary by company also but usually it is either $10,000.00 or $15,000.00 and we have one company that you can select a $20,000.00 option.
This coverage is also pretty inexpensive as well and starts as low as $15 for the year, that’s $1.25 a month.
For me, this was a no-brainer and when my home insurance company began offering it, I added it immediately; you may want to consider the same.
If you would like to learn more about this, give us a call at 1-800-644-6030. Even if your current company does not offer this, we can check your policy with those that do and give you a comparison quote.
I’m a former aspiring “ski-bum” turned insurance professional.I was licensed in 2002 and in 2013 I obtained my Certified Insurance Counselor (C.I.C.) designation. I'm married to an amazing woman, have a wonderful son and a cat.I enjoy travelling, music, craft beer, woodworking, collecting and restoring antique tools and all things computer and tech related.
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