Regardless of where you live, chances are your public utility department holds you responsible for the cost of any repairs to your sewer and water lines that are on your property. In Seattle, homeowners are responsible for the lines all the way up to city connection in the street.
When a sewer line brake or clog causes sewage to backup into your home, your homeowners insurance will typically pay to repair some of the resulting damage inside the house, depending on your deductible. Homeowners insurance however, does not normally cover the cost of repairs outside your home where the sewer or water line break or leak occurred.
Now, a new type of insurance is emerging to address the problem. National Water Company, LLC. started offering special Sewer Line Insurance polices 18 months ago through insurance companies across the state. NWC is based in Moses Lake, Washington, with an office in Bothell.
Owner Jeff Johnson says NWC is currently approved to insure private residential water and sewer lines in Washington, Oregon and Utah and is working to get approval in other states across the West. There are approximately 45 brokers offering the coverage in this state, and Johnson says he's actively working to increase that number. Johnson says sewer line insurance has been around for some time on the east coast.
The coverage is relatively inexpensive -- $5.99 a month for sewer line coverage, $3.99 a month for a water line, and $7.99 a month for both. Maximum coverage is $5,000 per line. As with any insurance policy, sewer line insurance has a list of exclusions, which consumers should read carefully.
Johnson says NWC has had about 40 claims since it stared offering sewer and water line coverage in Washington a year and a half ago. I checked with the State Office of the Insurance Commissioner and verified the license. The state says technically, National Water Company is not an insurance company, but rather an insurance agency, which administers and manages the sewer line insurance sold by partner insurance companies. OIC tells me records show no consumer complaints nor state investigations.
In a related topic, you should be aware that other companies from out of state are promoting sewer line insurance by using official-looking fliers that are written to alarm you, and appear, at first look, to be from your public utility. They are not. As always, be leery about any company that uses deceptive tactics to get you to respond.