SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – In 2015, Gary Vinson, who’s owned a home in Savannah for several decades, says he found out there was a problem with the water line leading from his home to the city hook up.
Because the pipes were on his property, he had to pay for the repairs — and it’s something most homeowners insurance won’t cover.
“Nope, they just consider that age and deterioration on the house,” said Vinson.
This week, the city of Savannah announced a new partnership with Service Line Warranties of America, designed to help homeowners who may be surprised by these expensive repairs.
The coverage is voluntary, and letters to city homeowners are now arriving in the mail.
Service Line Warranties of America offers a service plan that provides homeowners with selected contractors to do work at no charge to the homeowner. The money is paid to the company. The city of Savannah makes no money by endorsing the company as a provider.
“It’s a program that’s been used by many other cities around the country so that residents will get a quality program that meets their needs,” said Myles Meehan from Service Line Warranties of America.
Meehan says the company operates in up to 750 cities around the country and now 20 cities in Georgia.
The national average for a water line repair is $2,500, and for a sewer line repair, it’s $3,200.
“The service plan could be thought of as similar to an insurance plan,” said Meehan. “So if a homeowner has a problem with either their water or their sewer line, we will send a licensed and qualified plumber from the Savannah area to come out and make the repairs.”
“Those repairs are covered by the service plan so the homeowner doesn’t have to pay out of pocket for the repairs,” added Meehan.
Information included in the letters says that coverage for a water and sewer line can be as low as $13 a month.
Vinson is concerned that some people will see the sheet that has the service plan fees on it and think it looks like something that’s mandatory.
The letters come with a city of Savannah address and city logo. There is also a “reply by May 12 date” on that sheet which he thinks may make some people think it’s a bill.
“It kind of looks like a water bill,” Vinson said.
Meehan says the May date is a suggested date to buy coverage, and no one has to decide by then. He says Savannah homeowners can buy the service plan at any time.
Again, buying the service plan is voluntary. And Meehan said there is a reason for the city to be involved in sending the letter.
“That’s to tell residents this is a program that the city supports and that it’s legitimate,” said Meehan. “So people know the city is behind the program, that it vetted us as a provider.”
Mayor Van Johnson told reporters this week he plans to sign up for the service plan. The mayor said many homeowners do not know that damage to the service lines on their property is their responsibility to repair.
“As Savannah homes and the infrastructure serving them age, the service plan provides our homeowners with an optional solution to be ready in case of emergency,” Johnson said in a city press release.
Meehan said that in addition to Georgia cities, Service Line Warranties of America has provided the service plan in Charleston, South Carolina, since 2013.
“A lot of residents there signed up for the plan, and that’s a similar city to yours. And so over the years, we’ve got about 12,000 residents who have the program and used it, and many have saved a lot of money,” said Meehan. “In fact, $2.5 million since the program began.”
Vinson said he doesn’t think since he has already fixed his water line, and is also repairing his sewer line now, that he will need the service plan. But he says he can see that it may be helpful for those who don’t have the money to make unexpected repairs.
“To call someone and just be able to make a claim may work for someone in that situation,” he said.