Happy New Year everyone! For the first blog of 2014…part two of my experiences with Sewer Line Warranties of America. You can read the first post here. SLWOFA offers insurance policies for Brookside/Waldo homeowners regarding water and sewer lines outside the home. Recently I spoke with a ‘warranty specialist’ with some questions about making a claim and how they choose their contractors. Jessica was very helpful and spent a lot of time on the phone with me. Here’s what I found out:
I asked her how SLWOFA selects their vendors. She said the company uses Plus One Solutions to check out the contractors–they make sure all are drug tested, licensed, insured and bonded. Contractors are locally based in the specific area they serve. She would not share the contractor list with me, saying it was ‘proprietary information’, and added if there was a contractor I thought should be added to the list, that person call SLWOFA. She did confirm some of their contractors sub-contract the work. Jessica said the work most sub-contracted was excavation, as that requires heavy equipment many plumbers don’t have. (This isn’t how it worked with my neighbors who made a claim earlier this year, FYI. A subcontractor did all the work–read details in the blog link above). However, Jessica stated that the company does guarantee work done by both contractor and subcontractor. She also said they do rotate work among all the contractors on their preferred list of vendors.
I was curious as to what happens if there is a claim for service without a clogged pipe initiating a service call. What happens if you have the insurance in place and decide to send a camera down your sewer line as preventative measure–to see if there are already breaks in the line, tree roots growing through, etc? Jessica explained SLOFWA would schedule a second inspection of the sewer line with one of their preferred vendors. Depending upon the outcome of the second inspection, choices would be made about the work needed. If Inspector #1 suggested a complete replacement of the sewer line and Inspector #2 (provided by SLOFWA) said just a repair is needed, it would be up to the homeowner to decide what to do. SLOFWA would pay for the repair only, not the replacement. I also asked “what if the homeowner wants to use his own contractor–one that isn’t on the list?”. She said they can authorize a pay-out, especially if the contractor the homeowner wants to use will charge more.
Here’s the bottom line as I see it: the insurance is relatively inexpensive, and if there is a problem, you can make a claim to cover the fix, ultimately spending less. However, as a homeowner you should get two opinions about the repair, and then be very aggressive as to what will permanently solve the blockage. There are some plumbers who may tell you a $8000 complete pipe replacement is needed when just a partial pipe replacement will do. Usually insurance companies want to pay out as little as possible regarding claims. It can be time consuming dealing with contractors and subcontractors. If you have a problem with your sewer line and have the SLOFWA insurance, make detailed notes about every conversation you have with any representative who is connected with the repair. Get a second opinion. Ask if the entire job will be subcontracted. Be comfortable with the local contractor SLOFWA sends out. As a customer and homeowner, you want to make sure the job is done right! If you are thinking of buying the insurance, be sure to read the FAQ on the SLOFWA website first.