When it comes to being a homeowner, it’s natural to focus on the house itself — the structure, interior, yard, etc. But underneath your home are essential components that are easy to overlook yet crucial for daily life: service lines. Let’s go over what service lines are, who’s responsible for their maintenance, and the coverage you can get to help reduce out-of-pocket expenses for repairs or replacements.
What Is a Service Line?
Service lines are a network of exterior, underground utility lines or pipes that supply a home with electricity, gas, water, and sewer functions. These lines connect from the house to a city’s main supply for these services. For example, installed under the street, a water main is a pipe that delivers the water supply to a home via a water service line.
Which Utility Lines May Be Considered Service Lines?
These utility lines are often considered service lines:
- Water: Incoming water pipes, internal water pipes, drains, sewer pipes, sprinkler lines, and steam pipes
- Electric: Underground power lines
- Gas and fuel: Fuel lines and natural gas pipes
- Connectivity: Cable lines, internet lines, and fiber optic lines
How Expensive Is It to Repair a Service Line Break?
If a break happens on the service line to your property, you — not the city — are responsible for the repair or replacement costs. These types of damages can be very expensive and inconvenient, and a standard homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover them.
When it comes to the cost of repairing or replacing a service line, it depends on the type and severity of the service line break. For example, according to Forbes, the cost to repair a water line ranges from $350-$1,575, while the cost to replace a water line ranges from $1,500-$12,000.
Special machinery may be needed to excavate pipes from beneath the ground, which may require your home, garden, or driveway to be dug up, depending on the location of the damaged pipes. If you're like many Americans, you likely need more money set aside to pay for this type of repair or replacement out of pocket.
What Is Service Line Coverage?
Many insurance companies offer service line coverage — optional insurance you can add to your standard homeowners policy to help pay for unforeseen service line failures. Specifically, Mercury offers Service Line Protection, which means you're covered in the event of costly or unexpected expenses related to water, electricity, gas, and sewer service line damage.
What Kind of Damage Is Covered Under Service Line Coverage?
Service Line Protection may cover damage, degradation, and breakdown to exterior and underground service lines, including:
- Water piping that connects from the house or other structure on the property to a public water supply or private well.
- Sewer piping that connects from the house or other structure to a public sewer or private septic system.
- Ground loop piping that connects to a heat pump.
- Piping that provides heating, including geothermal, natural gas, propane, and steam.
- Piping that provides compressed air.
- Power lines that provide electrical service to the dwelling or other structure.
Service line coverage only costs a few dollars per month and covers lodging and other living expenses if your home becomes uninhabitable. This type of insurance has its own $500 deductible that’s separate from your homeowners insurance policy. The average claim payment is $5,000, with excavation being the largest cost associated with service line repair.
What Kind Of Damage Is Not Covered Under Service Line Coverage?
Service line coverage generally won’t cover damage resulting from:
- Fuel tanks
- Septic tanks and pipes attached to your home
- Wiring or piping that runs through a body of water
- Underground wiring or piping that isn’t connected and ready to use
- Water wells
If there's damage to one or more of your service lines, it's your responsibility as a homeowner to fix them. Repairs — especially replacements — can be expensive, so adding Service Line Protection to your homeowners insurance policy is a valuable investment. Call your local agent today if you're interested in getting Service Line Protection.