City endorses private water and sewer line protection company for homeowners

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The letter comes on city letterhead. It's even signed by Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte, and it spells out an offer to homeowners for water and sewer line protection at a cost of $120 a year.

But it has some homeowners wondering if the offer is legit. 

The city says, yes, it is legitimate. 

"Residents, this is an option for you. It is a good company that we've looked into …. We think this is something you should consider as a homeowner," said Kansas City Spokesman Danny Rotert.    

If one of those underground lines breaks, a policy holder can call a 24-hour hotline. A local plumber will be dispatched within 24 hours. The policy covers up to $4,000 in repair costs, plus another $4,000 allowance for street and sidewalk cutting.   

While it may seem unusual for a city to endorse a private company, it is not uncommon.  

In the past few years, Call For Action has reported on cities across the country and here in the metro endorsing companies which offer homeowners water and sewer line protection.  

But some consumers have been disappointed.  In 2011, Pat McKendrick called a company's 24-hour emergency hotline and said he got nowhere. 

"They said the lines were busy and please stay on the line. Then the next message was, 'we appreciate your business, please stay on the line,'" McKendrick said.

He ended up hiring a plumber at an out-of-pocket cost of $200.

Kansas City endorsed Service Line Warranties of America, which has an A plus rating with the Better Business Bureau. 

"No one is required to buy this," Rotert said. "The city isn't requiring you buy any warranties on your pipes. But you should know that from the sidewalk to your house is your responsibility." 

For the endorsement, the city will get a 10 percent cut for each policy sold by Service Line Warranties. The money will go into water assistance programs to help homeowners who are out of work and can't afford to pay their water bills.

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