Letter creates worry for Independence water customers

INDEPENDENCE, Missouri - A letter that’s hitting many Kansas City area mailboxes is causing a stir.

Alice Hendrickson recently got one.

"I didn't realize I was responsible for that line that goes from the house to the street,” Alice tells Call For Action’s Keith King.

The letter comes from American Water Resources and states, “You are responsible for the repair and maintenance of the water line that runs through your property.”

It goes on to say that water line repairs aren't covered by insurance and can cost thousands to fix. American Water Resources will give homeowners piece of mind for just five dollars a month.

Alice’s reaction to getting the letter? “I thought maybe it was just a scam,” she says.

She’s not alone. The Independence Water Department got a lot of calls from worried homeowners who received the ad in the mail.

Call For Action got a letter Wednesday from an Independence condo owner who says he received two letters from American Water Resources in two weeks.

He wonders if his fellow condo owners "would fall for this when it's not even their responsibility.” He adds, “Something about it strikes me as a scam.”

Thomas Heinkel, Customer Service Manager for the Independence Water Department says, "It has no affiliation with the city. We tell them it is an insurance policy."

Just who is responsible for water line repairs? Each city is different.

Heinkel says, “Each homeowner is responsible for their water and sewer line from where it leaves the house to where it hooks up to the city sewer or water main. That is owned and must be maintained by the homeowner."

Alice Hendrickson says she's lived in her home for 50 years and never has had a problem with water pipes. She plans to pass on the offer.

The following is the written response submitted by American Water Resources:

Many homeowners are unaware of their responsibilities when it comes to water line repairs. Most believe these repairs are the responsibility of their water service provider and/or their municipality, and many believe it is within the coverage of their homeowners insurance. These repairs are actually the responsibility of the homeowner and oftentimes, they are not covered by homeowners insurance policies.

American Water Resources provides water line, sewer line and in home plumbing emergency programs to homeowners across the country. We have been in business for 10 years and currently have approximately 830,000 customer contracts in 16 states.

The company has been providing water line protection programs in Missouri for eight years.

American Water Resources has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and is a subsidiary of American Water, the nation’s largest investor-owned water and wastewater services provider, which is marking its 125th anniversary this year.

American Water Resources’ water line protection program provides peace-of-mind coverage to homeowners in the event of a water line leak or break. The water line protection program covers up to $5,000 for the cost of repairing a leaking or broken water line and performing basic restoration of the area of the property affected by the repair.

The terms and conditions of the programs are available online, and we have customer service representatives available to answer any questions people may have.

We provide 24/7 customer service and we promptly dispatch local, licensed independent contractors after receiving a service call.

While American Water Resources makes every effort to direct our mailers to only those homeowners with service line repair responsibility, we cannot always determine from the addresses whether the property is a single family residence or a part of a condominium association. That is why the company's mailers advise townhouse and condo dwellers to check with their association regarding their service line responsibilities prior to enrolling.


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