A new city-endorsed water and sewer service line protection program sparked some skepticism from concerned residents over how safe it really was to sign onto and how it stacked up against other options.
After receiving numerous calls from his constituents questioning the legitimacy of the city Department of Environmental Protection’s insurance policy that covers homeowners’ repair costs to private water and sewer lines, City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) said the city’s plan was the safest bet.
Halloran said the protections save residents the worry over replacing private water or sewer line breaks that could cost anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 in some of the worst-case scenarios.
“In this tough economy, I don’t know any homeowner who has $8,000 to spare,” Halloran said. “Damage to these lines can be the result of wear and tear, tree roots, heavy vehicle traffic or nearby construction. Like any other insurance program, the Service Line Protection Program could save you a lot of money.”
Under the program, homeowners are responsible for their own private water and sewer lines, in the middle of most streets, and the connection to their houses. The DEP chose contractor American Water Resources to provide the protections for covered repairs from wear and tear to basic repairs to an unlimited number of claims, 24/7 customer service and city-licensed workers.
According to Halloran, the DEP program is the safest option for homeowners looking to protect themselves from water and sewer line breaks. The councilman joined with community leaders of northeast Queens in front of his Whitestone office Tuesday to caution against potential scam programs.
“These companies are capitalizing on the DEP’s new program and could be confusing to homeowners, especially seniors,” Halloran said. “We want people to know what they’re signing up for so they can decide how to best protect their homes.”
According to Kim Cody, president of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association, some companies, such as AmeriServ, have mailed letters throughout the borough offering similar services — but with a catch.
“People are going to look for the cheapest price, but you get what you pay for,” Cody said, noting that programs such as that of AmeriServ offered protections to only water lines, and at a higher rate than the DEP.
Cody joined with Halloran in support of the DEP program as the safest option, with rates set by the city Water Board that vary from year-to-year and offer an option for residents to opt out at any time.
Halloran, who signed onto the program for his own home in the Broadway-Flushing neighborhood, said broken water or sewer lines that may break under the street or sidewalk might fall under the homeowner’s jurisdiction, which could end up costing thousands of dollars.
According to the DEP, water customers may participate in programs at $3.99 per month for water line protection and $7.99 per month for sewer line protection.
“We’ve all worked so hard to have our homes in this community and we all want to protect our homes from expensive, unexpected damage,” Halloran said.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2013 Community News Group
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