|Company offering water, sewer line protection service|
|Monday, January 28, 2013|
By JENNIFER HORTON
Information received in the mail by some homeowners in Lebanon from a company offering a service to protect their sewer and/or water lines in case emergency repairs are ever needed had a local citizen concerned, but the offer is on the up-and-up and strictly voluntary, a spokesperson said.
A woman who contacted The Wilson Post regarding the company, American Water Resources, was concerned that older residents on a fixed income who still reside in their own homes might be the victims of some sort of hoax. She said she called the City of Lebanon’s water department and was told by someone not to pay attention to the mailer and to throw it away.
However, a spokesperson for the company, which is based in Voorhees, N.J., said the company essentially offers a service contract so if something happens to the sewer line or water line breaks, leaks, clogs, then the contract covers the cost of repairs and basic site restoration if necessary.
Denise Venuti Free, communications manager for the company, explained that it is a subsidiary of American Water, which she noted, is the nation’s largest publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. American Water has been in business for 127 years, and American Water Resources has been around for about 11 years. The company has been doing business in Tennessee for approximately eight years.
AWR, as it is called, has a 93 percent customer satisfaction rating, an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and around 1 million service contracts in 35 states.
“We are definitely an established, legitimate and well-rated company,” Free said.
AWR offers service contracts to take care of water, sewer and in-home plumbing needs.
AWR also offers protection programs to homeowners through partnerships with municipalities and other governing entities, and the company was recently selected by the New York City Water Board as its official service line protection provider for homeowners in the City's five boroughs, Free noted.
“As a water services provider, American Water realized that 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,” she said.
“So as a water utility, when customers had leaks, breaks or clogs, they’d call us and of course when they learned it wasn’t the utility’s responsibility to fix it, they’d get upset. So we realized that there is a gap here – a need – and that’s how American Water Resources was founded.
“The programs offered by American Water Resources – our water and sewer line protection programs (which are service contracts, not warranties or insurance) – fill this need by providing peace-of-mind coverage to homeowners,” Free added.
She explained that 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 that is affected by the repair.
The sewer line protection program covers up to $8,000 for repairs to clogged/blocked sewer lines that run between your home and the sewer main in the street (the portion of the sewer line that is the homeowner's responsibility). The program covers repair of the sewer line and basic site restoration, and sidewalk/street excavation and repaving, if needed.
“Customers are eligible for unlimited service calls,” she added.
AWR provides a 24-hour customer service line, and licensed, local plumbing contractors are dispatched promptly in response to customer calls.
“Enrollment in the Water and Sewer Line Protection Programs, as well as in our In-Home Plumbing Protection Program, is voluntary,” Free said, adding the terms and conditions of the programs are available online at www.awrusa.com, and they have customer service representatives available to answer any questions people may have.
Free said the service contracts are for one year and must be renewed annually. The contracts can be cancelled by homeowners at any time. If they are cancelled within 30 days, homeowners will receive a full refund, and if cancelled after 30 days then the refund is prorated.
Clayton Anderson, manager of water distribution for the City of Lebanon, said people should check companies out before signing up for any service.
“If you can’t survey that company to make sure they’re legitimate, people can put a guarantee on anything,” he said, urging homeowners to do their research first, and check online, check with the Better Business Bureau, talk to friends and family who may have contact with the company and call company representatives and talk to them.
If they are a reputable company, Anderson said, they will do what they promised.
“Do your research,” he said.
For more information about AWR, visit www.awrusa.com or call 1-866-430-0819.