Charlotte Water promotes a way to save money on repairs. But do homeowners need it?
A Charlotte man’s question about whether homeowners were required to have sewer line coverage offered by the city sparked conversation among neighbors whether it was needed.
In a recent NextDoor post, the homeowner said he received a letter about a commonly-offered service, similar to insurance, to defray unexpected costs. However, he wasn’t sure he should buy it.
Charlotte homeowners likely have gotten letters or advertisements in their mailbox offering protection for $5.50 per month against the costs of covered repairs if lines break down.
Another homeowner, who chronicled her situation on the online forum Nextdoor, explained if she had the optional service protection plan — offered in conjunction with Charlotte Water — the costs of an $8,000 home sewer line repair would be covered.
“My line that connects to the city’s clean out broke. Over the years where it’s broken has slowly dropped down and reduced the opening causing the line to backup,” the homeowner posted on the website. “My insurance does not cover it.”
Since 2019, Charlotte Water has partnered with HomeServe USA to help cut the cost of unexpected repairs to water and sewer lines for residents.
But many Charlotte homeowners are dubious. And some may find the service plan redundant if they already have extra coverage under their home insurance policy that would cover the problems, should they occur.
Some have even contacted the Better Business Bureau to express that the program is a scam.
“I have gotten several letters. They give the impression they are the City of Charlotte Water department. They are not. I think it’s a scam,” a resident wrote on Nextdoor.
The letter also states that “if the problem is on the public side, Charlotte Water will make any necessary repairs. If the problem is on the private side, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to find a plumber and cover the cost of repairs.”
Though Charlotte Water details that the service is not required, a mailer sent features an “acceptance form” that can be completed and returned to sign up for coverage.
Some home insurance policies do cover water or sewer service lines but there’s almost always an added cost and the coverage is optional. To find out if yours does, call your insurance agent and look on your policy documents for phrases like “service line protection.”
Tom Bartholomy, CEO of the Better Business Bureau of the Southern Piedmont and Western North Carolina explains it’s just an additional way to help protect your home in case of an emergency, even if you already have insurance.
“It’s not a scam. It’s one of many companies in the home warranty business. Consumers have lots of options,” Bartholomy said. “By every measure, it looks to be one of the better measures in the field. But you have options, you don’t need to do anything.”
According to Charlotte Water, most of its customers do not know they are responsible for the water and sewer lines running to their homes. If these lines ever break, it’s up to the homeowner to cover any costs associated with the repair.
“Homeowners insurance, in general, covers damage covered by a leak, not pay to repair a leak itself,” Bartholomy said. “HomeServe is not an insurance company, just a company to help with those repairs through a third party.”
HomeServe USA is an independent company separate from Charlotte Water that offers services for water and sewer emergencies and will handle all aspects of the service line coverage including billing, customer service and repair calls.
Charlotte Water said it partnered with the company because it is often notified about water leaks that turn out to be on a private exterior water service line.
Charlotte Water officials contacted by The Charlotte Observer said the partnership not only helps raise awareness about service line responsibility, but it provides an affordable option from a reputable company.