When it comes to some offers: Buyer beware
by Terra Temple
Aug 08, 2012 | 778 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Back in the day, the ancient Romans had a saying. In Latin, it was caveat emptor Today, it's translated as "Let the buyer beware."

They are words of advice city attorney Rick Abell gave when addressing a mailing several residents have received from a home utility insurance company called HomeServe. Abell said he's been looking into HomeServe for a while. He informed the Metropolis City Council of his findings during their July 25 meeting.

"What they offer, or report to offer, is basically insurance to cover your water line from your house to a curb stop," Abell told the board.

According to its website, HomeServe USA Repair Management Corp. "is an independent company separate from the local utility or community and offers its service as an authorized representative for AMT Warranty Corp., the contract issuer." For its members, states the website, the company will "with one phone call, at any time day or night, 365 days a year, we'll send a local, licensed and insured contractor to your home to repair your plumbing, electrical or HVAC emergency — all at no cost to you."

In its mailings, the company states the homeowner is "responsible for the maintenance and repair of the exterior water line at the above address. Repairing a broken line could cost you thousands of dollars without coverage."

"When you read the fine print, you're not buying hardly anything because it's all covered anyway," said Alderman Bill Carrell.

Abell noted that most policies only pay for repair costs when the damage is the result of a  sudden catastrophic event, such as an earthquake.

"They don’t pay simply because something wears out. In the case individual waterlines, they are rarely damaged by outside forces," he said.

Because waterlines for the city are on private property and not in right of ways, they don’t get run over by heavy equipment or vehicles and they don’t experience continuous vibration from vehicles overhead which can cause them to shift and wear by rubbing on surrounding rocks or fill material. 

"The city is responsible for the waterline to the curb stop and will even repair a waterline in the right of way if it damages the waterline," Abell said. " Consequently, there is very little likelihood of a waterline into a home being damaged in a sudden catastrophic event that would cause the insurance policy to pay for repairs."

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