When is the last time you thought about the underground service and utility lines that run underneath your property?
Unless you’ve had an incident or are planning to excavate, probably not recently.
Utility lines come in many forms. Some examples of underground service lines include:
If any of these run through your property, you may be deemed liable for damage, even if you did not cause the damage directly.
These service lines are often out of sight, out of mind.
However, the reality is that you as the homeowner are responsible for keeping these lines intact.
It’s common for homeowners to think that their responsibility is simply not to interfere with the lines directly while performing activities such as renovations and property developments.
This simply isn’t the case. As a homeowner with multiple utility lines running underneath your property, you are responsible for much more.
You are not only liable for incidents that involve underground service lines, but also general wear and tear as well. Even damage that is caused over time can be seen as negligence and you may be deemed at fault.
We often see claims come in for gradual unforeseen circumstances related to underground service lines.
In many cases, it is something indirect that happened over time. One example is a tree root growing through a water pipe, resulting in a leak and increasing the cost of running water until the damage was repaired.
In this instance, even though the owner was unaware, keeping the area around the service lines free and clear of potential risk factors was their responsibility. They would be deemed liable for the repairs and resulting damages.
Other examples include:
Each of these things can cost thousands of dollars in damages and repairs. This is because repairing damages to underground service lines isn’t as simple as patching up a pipe. It often requires hefty additional expenditures, such as digging up your driveway, sidewalk, or landscaping to access the line.
One of our advisors has experienced this first hand prior to pursuing a career in the insurance industry. Due to a leaking natural gas line, she was displaced from her home because the heat needed to be turned off until the damage could be repaired. It was a very troubling time for her family as they waited to hear back from the service company.
Although she had not been involved directly in causing the damage, she was deemed at fault by NIPSCO for failing to eliminate a risk factor. When she received the repair bill for $9,900, she immediately panicked. She did not have the resources to pay for this.
After a quick call to check her insurance policy, she was grateful to find out she had coverage for the incident because she’d opted to purchase additional underground service line coverage for her home.
After paying a small deductible, the incident was settled, and she was able to move back home in just three days.
In addition to repairs, your underground service line policy may also cover expenses such as hotels, meals, and other living expenses while the line is being repaired and you are unable to stay in your home.
Coverage for underground service lines is not typically included in the standard homeowners policy. If it is, it is often only for a single line. If you have multiple lines running underneath your home, it’s important to consult with your insurance advisor about applying that additional channel of coverage to your policy.
Adding underground service line coverage to your policy is often more affordable than you think, and it can save you a ton of money when an incident does arise.
Without having the policy in place, the consequences of the natural gas leak we described above would have been severe and depleted much of our advisor’s personal resources. Paying a small premium to extend her coverage to the service lines underneath her home saved her $10,000 when she least expected it. This could be the case for you too.
Connect with us today to learn more about underground service line coverage or if you have any questions about the number of service lines you have running underneath your home. If you’re unsure about adding this additional coverage, one of our advisors would be happy to help.
At General Insurance Services, we are a team of insurance professionals with an array of experience, backgrounds, and interests. We’re advisors with a mission to secure the future of the communities we serve. Share our knowledge through this blog allows us to get one step closer to achieving our mission.