By LESLIE COLLINS
September 11, 2013
When the city of Kansas City signed up to offer a service line warranty program, residents initially questioned the legitimacy of the program. Some even called it a scam.
The letters, complete with the city logo, were sent to residents this past spring and offered residents the option of signing up for a water and sewer line service warranty program.
Details were vague in the letters, but the city assured residents that Utility Service Partners, Inc., which operates the service line warranty program called Service Line Warranties of America, received backing from the National League of Cities.
During the Sept. 5 city Business Session, Utility Service Partners, Inc. provided an update on the program.
Currently, more than 180 communities across the nation participate in the program and larger cities include Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego and Las Vegas. Kansas communities include Dodge City, Derby, El Dorado, Garden City, Hutchinson, Prairie Village, among others.
More than 8,170 Kansas Citians signed up for the coverage, and to date, 42 claims have been filed.
“Our enrollment has been very good here,” said Oscar Arras, regional account manager for Utility Service Partners, Inc. “We do not use contractors from a different state or a different part of the country. Our commitment is to use local contractors as much as possible.”
Utility Service Partners is currently working with additional local contract plumbers to join the program as demand for services increases.
When a plumber is dispatched to evaluate a lateral water or sewer line issue, the homeowner is sent a survey. Although the company only received one survey back of the 42, the survey rated the company with high marks. One resident sent an email to the company thanking them for their excellent customer service.
Arras said the company hasn’t received any surveys or phone calls from Kansas City residents dissatisfied with their service.
One advantage of the program is that Kansas City receives royalty fees and to date has accrued $95,152.41. That funding will be used to help indigent individuals pay their water bills and keep their services turned on, said City Council member John Sharp.
For the fall campaign, Utility Service Partners, Inc. will waive the 30-day waiting period to make a claim and will also send a draft of the campaign letter to the city manager for final approval. The company will also host a press conference to explain the program prior to the letter being mailed to residents.
“I think the program is certainly proving its worth,” John Sharp said. “I think it does offer people a lot of peace of mind, and the coverage is a lot better than some of these copy cats.”
Mayor Sly James also commended the company.
“I’m happy to see that people are taking advantage of it,” James said, “and not having any problems with it.”
Covers service to repair or replace lines that fail due to normal wear and tear.
Water lines: Contract is limited to $4,000 per occurrence, plus an additional $500 for public sidewalk cutting or $4,000 for public street cutting, if necessary.
Sewer lines: Contract is limited to $4,000 per occurrence, plus an additional $4,000 for public street cutting, if necessary.
For questions or to enroll, call (855) 999-8806 or visit www.slwofa.com.