Service line coverage protects homeowners in Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings on Hudson, White Plains, Westchester and all of New York in the event that pipes or wiring under their lawn (coming into their property but not located on the street or in their home) fail or are damaged.
It kind of ‘fills the gap’ between what a municipality is typically responsible to repair for piping and lines (usually the portion that’s under the street) and what homeowners insurance covers to repair (usually only what is inside the house itself).
This will help to cover the costs of repairing the damaged service lines and pipes you are legally responsible for.
These pipes and lines are very costly to repair and unfortunately most insurance companies are not offering this coverage!
What exactly is a service line?
Depending on the specific coverage plan you purchase, coverage for the following types of service lines coming onto your property is typically included:
- Electrical Wiring
- Power Lines
- Communication or Data-Transmission Wiring (TV, phone, internet)
This coverage is so important because these services are critical for making your home livable.
Without service line protection you are likely looking at thousands of dollars in repairs out of pocket if these lines need to be repaired or replaced.
Unfortunately, many homeowners find out too late that this is not something that is automatically covered in their homeowners insurance policy.
When does coverage apply for a service line?
If you have a leak, break, tear, rupture, collapse or arcing of a covered service line ; this would typically trigger coverage.
The more important question to ask, though, is what the coverage involves. The specific things you want your service line coverage to be responsible for include:
- Repair of damage to service lines
- Costs of excavation
- Expediting expenses
- Loss of use or additional living expenses (in the event you are not able to live in your home while the repairs are taking place)
- Outdoor property repairs (to repair damage to your property and other property in the process of repairing the damage)
It’s important to make sure you know what you are getting and that all your service lines are properly protected. You will likely be responsible for a deductible with your service line coverage so keep that in mind when comparing policies or plans.
Are there Coverage Exclusions? (Things that are not covered)
Yes of course!
Most service line protection plans have some very specific exclusions. You need to know what they are before you make any decisions that could cost you big time when all is said and done. Common exclusions include:
- Relocation or upgrading of wiring or pipes.
- Septic systems.
- Replacement of water wells, motors, or pumps.
- Damage from service lines that are being dismantles, serviced,o or installed.
- Wiring, piping, etc. that runs through a building or a body of water.
Not all policies are the same so you’ll need to discuss the specific details of your policy during the decision-making
What is an Orangeburg Sewer Pipe?
What’s the flimsiest substance you can imagine making a pipe out of? Paper, right?
Believe it or not, a substance not at all unlike paper called Bituminous fiber went into countless water and sewer pipes for decades. It’s called ‘Orangeburg pipes’ (after It’s named after Orangeburg, New York, where it was produced), and if you own an older home in New York or live in a historic neighborhood, your plumbing system is likely still using it.
The ‘pipe’ is basically wood pulp formed into tubes and waterproofed with pitch. While a form of this pipe has been around since the late 1800s, widespread usage of Orangeburg began during World War II due to a shortage of more cast iron materials and continured in the post war boom due to the need for cheap building materials.
These pipes were known to burst under pressure and only meant to last 50 year (if that!) ….
What if I have Orangeburgh Pipes?
Many homes in Ardlsey, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings, and Westchester County (and all over the East Coast) have these pipes.
In Ardsley for example, to the best of my knowledge and experience, 90% houses build after Korean War by the Joyce road area (that side of Ardsley High School) have these Orangeburg pipes. In fact many houses built just after World War II in Westchester County and along the East Coast, used these pipes since they were cheap.
So if your Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess or Rockland County home was built in the 1970s or earlier, there’s a good chance your water is running through Orangeburg pipe.
There have been several posts in the group of people who have needed to have the main sewer line from their house to the street replaced. The repair is very expensive and many people have questions about prevention and insurance.
What if I am buying a house?
If you have not experienced problems with back up yet, but want to be proactive I recommend putting a camera in your pipeline.
Sewer piping tends to be “out of sight, out of mind” until there’s, at a minimum, some sort of water backup.
Here’s one homeowners nightmare:
“Black water started coming up from the drain in our basement floor. We were told we had Orangeburg piping and the tree roots in our yard were crushing it. At this point, we have spent over $20,000 in sewer line repairs and the replacement of carpet and furniture.”
So what can you do to avoid facing a problem like this homeowner?
Know the Orangeburg Warning Signs
First and foremost, if you’re buying a home that was built before 1980, have a professional plumber do an inspection to ensure there’s not Orangeburg piping (if there is, you can subtract the replacement estimate from your offer).
If you’re already settled and are unsure whether you have Orangeburg piping, the previous homeowner or city documents may have the answer; if not, it’s again best to bring in a professional plumber who can do an inspection for you.
However, there are a few warning signs to watch out for:
- Slow draining
- Frequent toilet back-ups
- Foul sewer odors inside the home
- Mold issues
- Lawn patches that appear greener than others
- Dips or indentations in the lawn
- Sinkholes in the foundation
If You Aren’t Sure…
You can buy very affordable coverage for all of your service lines, including water and sewer lines! This can be added to your home insurance policy and offers coverage of various amounts. We work with multiple carriers who will add this to your home insurance policy.
Want to discuss your insurance needs to make sure you are properly covered? Please give us a shout, we are happy to help!
Or…. if you are still confused (or maybe even more confused!), and want to talk with an expert who can walk you through your options…. lets set a time to chat!
Or shoot me an email if that’s more your style- Nicole@thejohnsagency.com.
I speak insurance, so you don’t have to!
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