City residents using insurance to cover water, sewer line breaks
In 2018, City Commissioners approved an agreement with Service Line Warranties of America.
SLWA coverage was introduced to Great Falls residents after several homeowners experienced water or sewer service line breaks and didn’t know that the city and basic homeowners insurance doesn’t cover those repairs, according to the city.
Those types of repairs can be costly, and breaks are unpredictable, according to the city.
Since the program started in the city in 2018, a total of 6,079 policies were purchased by city residents, and a 1,275 claims have been processed, saving property owners $1.8 million, City Manager Greg Doyon told commissioners during their Nov. 7 meeting.
The data was from a SLWA report to the city about policy usage in the city since the program started, Doyon said.
Periodically, SLWA circulates letters about the policy options in the city.
The letter includes the city logo, with permission from the city, and outlines optional coverage plans for water and sewer line repairs at a discount.
Citizens enrolled in the SLWA plan have access to an emergency repair hotline and SLWA will take care of the covered repair up to $8,500. A licensed plumber will be dispatched to the residence and SLWA will pay the bill directly, according to the city.
To learn more about these optional service plans and SLWA, visit www.slwofa.com or call toll-free at 1-844-257-8795. To answer questions specific to COGF’s partnership with SLWA, visit https://greatfallsmt.net/finance/service-line-warranties-america-faqs.
In November 2018, the City Commission approved a marketing agreement with SLWA.
The company approached the city to offer the service since the city is a member of the National League of Cities and Towns.
The agreement allowed the company to mail residents a campaign letter outlining the city’s endorsement as well as a reminder two weeks later, according to the November 2018 staff report.
Residents have the option to enroll in the program but are under no obligation to do so.
The policies are not for city-owned properties or commercial properties.
The agreement grants the company a non-exclusive license for the use the city’s name and logo on letterhead, bills and marketing materials and the city receives 50 cent license fee per product for each month that a product is in force for each property owner. The fee is paid to the city annually in January, according to city documents.
The city does not provide list of customer names and addresses. The company purchases that information from third-parties, according to the city.
The term of the agreement was three years from the effective date with an automatic renewal for an additional one year term unless one of the parties gives written notice at least 90 days prior to the end of the term.
In May 2019, the commission amended the agreement since the company was authorized by the state to offer products for external sewer/septic lines. If purchased, the program would cover from the exit point of a home up to the city’s service main as well as septic lines if applicable, according to the city documents.
“Many homeowners become frustrated when they discover a blocked sewer line or broken water pipe, and then learn that the repair is their responsibility. Homeowners are often unaware that these types of repairs are not covered by basic homeowner’s insurance policies or by the city,” according to the city’s 2019 release.
SLWA plan holders will have access to a repair hotline that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and repairs are performed by local, licensed, and insured contractors.
The SWLA program is voluntary for residents and provided at no cost to the City of Great Falls. No public funds are used to promote or administer the program, according to the city.