Are any of these sewer line and water line protection/warranty programs worth having?

There is a new kid on the block, the Home Inspector offering you a free sewer line and water line protection for “Free” for a 90 day period.  Is it just a gimmick to get your business or is it worth choosing that Home Inspector just to get this supposed protection?

[tab: Is it really worth it?]

There is another gimmick out there being used by Home Inspectors to get you to use their services.  It is another one of these 90 Day Wonders that is being advertised to protect your home purchase, albeit if only for 90 days after the home inspection.  But is it really a useful product or not?  If you are tempted to select the Home Inspector based on this, and the other 90 Day Wonder gimmicks they are offering you then you really need to read that protection agreement before you sign on the dotted line and spend money on the Inspector’s services.  This particular sewer line/water line service product that Home Inspectors are offering for free for 90 days does have the option to extend it at what the provider calls a “nominal fee”.  Of course in the process they do not tell you what that “nominal fee” is and use this to obtain your contact information.  Are they using your contact information to try marketing this extension and other possible products and services to you?  Is an extension or other products they market to you worth considering?

I have had the opportunity to view this new 90 Day Wonder protection and I have also compared it to the various other policies that are being offered for a small fee from your own water/sewer service providers and directly from the companies that are offering this service.  I won’t bother to post this 90 Day Wonder service agreement here or even refer it by name.  I won’t do this as it only provides them more free advertisement.  You should ask your Home Inspector to provide you a copy of the agreement for this new 90 Day Wonder before you sign the Home Inspector’s contract and/or even book their services for your home inspection.  You should closely review the terms and implications of this service agreement and compare it to the ones noted below.

What I will do though here is to provide you a small comparison of this 90 Day Wonder product that I do have a copy of and one of the policies for the larger companies that are offering a vastly superior product for a small fee that might be worth your time looking into.

Service Line Warranties of America
American Water Resources
Dominion Energy Solutions
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For the comparison purposes we will use the Service Line Warranties of America (SLWA) sewer and water line protection policies to compare this 90 Day Wonder service agreement so that you can get an idea of the vast difference between them.  We won’t compare all of the terms but just some major points to consider.  In the comparisons below we will identify the SLWA policy as “SLWA” and the 90 Day Wonder policy as “90DW” just to make it easier to type out.  The SLWA policy is one taken for coverages in Texas, but offers coverage in many other States as well, and they do reserve the right to make needed changes from one area to another.  So if you do use any of these policies make sure what changes or exclusions might apply to your area.

Is this policy regulated and controlled by any State agency?  It is important that you only deal with any of these policies that are properly regulated and controlled by a State agency as the companies offering them now must follow strict guidelines or risk being shut down as far as offerings here.  An honest service provider/company will not risk losing their license/approvals from State agencies by acting irrationally with the consumers.  These sewer and water line policies are very lucrative for them and an honest company just won’t risk losing the client base.

SLWA – Yes, this company’s policies are controlled by the Texas Real Estate Commission and full under the Residential Service Company (RSC) laws/Acts.  If you have an issue with their program and feel you are not being treated properly you have an avenue of redress by filing a complaint with TREC.
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90DW – NO!  TREC refuses to regulate these 90DW policies so if you have a problem with the provider you are on your own!  As for extending the policy for a “nominal fee” that would put this company under the control of TREC and the RSC Act.  At this time I can’t find any appearance that they are even licensed to offer an extension here in Texas.
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Does the water line protection include the entire main water line length from the City owned water meter up to the main entry point into the home, including through the homes foundation/slab?

SLWA – Yes, they include the entire line length from the water meter to the internal entry point into the home, including the point it passes through the slab.
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90DW – NO as I read their coverage.  The coverage is confusingly worded such that the only coverage is from the City water connection point to the City water meter or to a main water shut-off inside of the home.  If you read this literally they are expecting that you have a main water shut-off inside of the home.  Here in Texas we have many older homes that do not even have a main water shut-off outside of the home let alone inside of the home.  Also if they are only covering to a house side shut-off valve does this coverage then stop outside of the house if there is a main water shut-off valve on the house side?  There is quite a bit of wiggle room in the policy to potentially deny a claim under various situations depending on how much they stand to lose paying out.
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Does the sewer line coverage extend to any part of the primary sewer line that extends under the home or through the home’s slab at the point of entry.

SLWA – Yes.
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90DW – No, this policy only covers the sewer line outside of the wall and to the City sewer connection.
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What are the dollar limits for what the policy will pay?  This is an extremely important item to consider when you look at these various policies.  I just performed an inspection where the main sewer drain line from the house to the City sewer connection essentially required replacement.  The Plumber estimated a minimum of $4200.00 for the work and did stipulate that depending on what was found when it was excavated that the costs could rise to $5200.00 or more.  The estimate they provided was a believable one and not inflated in my opinion.  Sewer line problems are not cheap to repair no matter where you are located!

SLWA – This policy pays up to $4000.00 per occurrence and as long as your policy is in effect they do not display a maximum number of occurrences or maximum amount per contract period that they will pay for.
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90DW – This policy only pays up to $2000.00 per occurrence and no more than $4000.00 for the life of the policy.  What that means using the example of the $4200.00 repair I mentioned above this policy would only cover the $2000.00 of that cost.
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Does the policy pay for the clearing of clogs in the sewer line?  This might sound silly but a clog can signal other issues with a sewer line.  In the example repair I discussed before it was the clearing of a clog problem that identified significant other issues with the sewer line.  Besides clogs are a major problem and paying for even one clogged drain clearing could easily pay for the coverage itself.

SLWA – Yes
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90DW – NO
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Does the policy pay for reconstruction of City streets or sidewalks that have to be damaged to repair your line?  This is something that many people just don’t think of since they neither see the sewer line connections and never really think about them.  Repairing even small sections of sidewalk and street can be very expensive and it is the homeowner’s responsibility if they are damaged during these repairs.

SLWA – Yes they cover up to $4000.00 for public street repair and $500.00 for public sidewalk repair.  As you can see by the SLWA policy they fully expect there is a potential for additional repairs and have provided generous allowances for this on top of the cost to repair the line itself.
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90DW – NO!  This policy does not cover anything but the cost to repair the line itself.  With this you could be in for a very large repair bill if public sidewalks or streets had to be cut open to repair your sewer connection.
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What has been provided above is just a sampling of the significant differences between these policies!  The 90 Day Wonder policy claims that you can extend this coverage for a nominal fee but never does say how much that is.  Also I would fully expect that their coverage you are extending is nothing more than what is in this “Free” 90 Day Wonder policy.  The question is would it be worth extending such limited coverage when there is significantly more coverage available out there?

If you are interested in sewer line, water line, and even gas line protection policies I would highly advise that you speak with the local supplier of these services to your home and see what they offer or can refer you to.  Your local utility provider is best equipped to provide these policies and services and many times these policy payments can be added to your monthly utility bill.  Whether you buy these policies or not is a matter for you to decide your own comfort level with.  You should also check your chosen homeowner policies to see if they cover any of this.  Typically they don’t but some policies might.

So what about this 90 Day Wonder policy/service agreement?  Well obviously in my opinion it really isn’t worth much when you can see how it stacks up with, or falls down next to, the various other policies out there.  These 90 Day Wonder policies and products are nothing more than lead generation tools used by the providers of them to sell you various products and services.  Usually the Home Inspector is required to have you sign waivers to the Do Not Call (DNC) lists so that the marketers can call you and try to sell more.  Some of these programs even pay the Home Inspector large referral fees (as much as $200 I have seen/been told) to have you sign the waivers and if you do buy into the products being marketed to you.

So when you are offered one of these 90 Day Wonder products check them out very closely and make sure you know what you are getting and what you have to do to get it.  Look for competing products that you can potentially purchase on your own without subjecting yourself to telemarketing calls and other tactics.

Good luck on buying and/or owning your home!

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