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Confused by what's covered under a Sewer Service Line Warranty?

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City of Madison homeowners may recall receiving a letter recently from the city offering an optional sewer service line warranty available through a third party. In the letter, it explained that the city is no longer legally able to make repairs to private sewer service lines. Keep in mind the new laws apply to cities and municipalities state-wide, as residents in the city of Milwaukee and other municipalities have been offered similar warranty options.

Here are some common questions you may have before you decide to purchase a sewer service line warranty:

What does this mean? 
In the past, the city would repair a portion of the private sanitary sewer lateral that was located in the public right-of-way, at the request of the property owner. New state laws now prevent the city from performing any work for which the property owner is responsible.

What does a sewer line warranty cover? 
Depending on the specific policy, a sewer line warranty may provide coverage for the service, repair or replacement of leaks, breaks, and clogs (including tree roots) from the sewer line.

Why would I need sewer line coverage? 
You may consider an extended sewer service line warranty if you live in an older neighborhood or feel you need additional coverage for your sewer lateral because your property has mature trees or shrubs and are worried about roots affecting your system. Wear and tear, the constant freezing and thawing cycles of our seasons, failed fittings and corroded pipes, as well as tree roots can all cause cracks, leaks, and clogs to your system.

Would this cover my entire sewer system? 
Not necessarily. The warranty offered through a sewer line warranty program would only cover the sewer lateral for which you are responsible for maintaining—the part of your sewer line that extends from your house to the street, where it hooks up to the city’s main sewer utility line. Keep in mind, this type of coverage also does not cover sewer backups in your basement, which are more common.

Doesn’t my home insurance cover an issue with my sewer line? 
No. Your home insurance only covers a broken sewer line inside your home, not outside the actual foundation.

Does Member Benefits offer this type of insurance? 
No. Sewer line coverage (from your foundation to the street) is not part of a home insurance policy.

What type of insurance would cover a sewer backup in my basement? 
Up to $20,000 of sewer and drain coverage can be added as an endorsement to your Member Benefits home insurance policy to protect you from losses due to a sewer or drain backup inside your home.

Remember, as a homeowner you are responsible for maintaining your sewer system.

  • Outside, between your home’s foundation and the city’s sewer system, you may choose to purchase the warranty offered through a third party, or be prepared to pay out of pocket.
  • Inside, water damage due to drain and sewer backup or sump pump overflow may be covered, but only if you’ve added an endorsement to your home insurance policy.

 If you have questions about your home insurance coverage or want more information about adding a sewer and drain endorsement to your Member Benefits insurance policy, call one of our Personal Insurance Consultants at 1-800-279-4010.

Cities and municipalities in Wisconsin may have their own sewer service warranty programs. Check with your local city or municipality for more information. More information about Madison’s sewer service line warranty program can be found on their Web site.

This article is for informational purposes only. Property and casualty insurance programs are underwritten by WEA Property & Casualty Insurance Company. The terms and conditions of your coverage are exclusively controlled by your written policy. Please refer to your policy for details.