Significant numbers of consumers are contacting the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Nebraska, South Dakota and southwest Iowa regarding a mailing they've received from HomeServe USA. The mailings inform recipients that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their exterior water lines, leaving them liable for repairs which could potentially cost thousands of dollars. It provides an 800 number and a deadline to enroll in their water Service Line Coverage. Some consumers have stated the mailings appear to be from a local government agency or utility company.
The BBB is advising consumers to review these notices carefully,particularly the portion that says HomeServe USA is an independent companyseparate from your local utility or community. The BBB received similarwaves of calls related to HomeServe USA mailings in both February and May of this year.
The BBB also notes that while the company is correct when they sayhomeowners are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their waterlines "utility service connection to your home," the warranty coverage theyoffer is optional.
"Similar to any warranty, service plan or insurance policy, it is up to the consumer to determine its value and whether or not it's worth purchasing," said Jim Hegarty president and CEO of the BBB. "They should also be clear about what is covered under the policy offered, as well as what is not
The BBB says that while some homeowners may not be covered for the line repairs offered by HomeServe USA, anyone who is uncertain should call their water department to avoid paying for duplicate coverage. You should also
review your homeowner's insurance policy to see if coverage is already provided, as well as contact your insurance company to ask how this coverage would work in conjunction with your current policy.
Although HomeServe USA is headquartered in Stamford, CT, the company does claim a Post Office Box in Lincoln, NE. HomeServe USA has entered into consent agreements with the states of Kentucky, Ohio and Massachusetts. Both Kentucky and Ohio alleged that the mailing solicitations "generated confusion" and were "deceptive" in their appearance. The settlements should not be considered as an admission of guilt or a legal violation. The BBB recommends the following tips to consumers who receive a call or letter from HomeServe USA or similar companies:
- Read the service contract very carefully and make sure you have a clear understanding of it, especially each of the exclusions, before agreeing to buy coverage. Do not purchase any coverage over the phone without seeing a contract with all details that were discussed verbally set down in writing.
- Make sure you're familiar with the company's cancellation policy in case you change your mind after signing up.
- Check the company's BBB Business Review at bbb.org
For more information please visit bbb.org or call the BBB toll free at 800-649-6814.