EWEB to customers: Beware of 'water line insurance' offer

EUGENE, Ore. - Be on the lookout for a mail solicitation campaign involving a company known as “HomeServe” that offers water service line insurance coverage, the Eugene Water & Electric Board said Monday.

Consumers in several states have alleged fraud and misrepresentation against the Connecticut-based company, which has earned a “D” rating from the Better Business Bureau, according to EWEB.

The Oregon Attorney General’s Office has received more than 40 complaints against the company since early 2011, and the Better Business Bureau has logged 142 complaints related to HomeServe and its associated firms over the past three years.

The company, also known as HomeServe USA Repair Management Corp., Home Emergency Insurance Solutions and Home Serve, entered into settlements and other agreements in 2010 with the Attorneys General in three states, and has paid nearly $100,000 in civil penalties and other costs related to consumer complaints regarding warranty misrepresentation and misleading advertising.

In letters sent to EWEB customers over the past week, HomeServe attempts to sell insurance to cover repairs to the water line that runs from the EWEB water meter to the home, and claims such repairs are not covered by homeowner’s insurance. While it is true that the section of water line running from the meter to the home is the customer’s responsibility, EWEB said, most homeowner’s policies do cover such repairs.

Customers considering buying such insurance should check with their insurer to find out whether such coverage already exists under the homeowner’s policy.

“It appears this company is offering a service that people don’t really need,” said Tony Green, spokesman for the state Department of Justice.

The Oregon Attorney General’s Office said representatives have received “dozens” of calls over the past week from recipients of the HomeServe letters. Anyone with questions or concerns about the letters should contact the agency’s Consumer Hotline at (503) 378-4320, or toll free at 1-877-877-9392.