|By Brittany Wallman, Sun Sentinel|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The mailings warn that the recipient's home address "has appeared in our review" as being without insurance for the water line leading from the home to its connection with the water system. A repair or replacement, the letter goes on, could cost "thousands of dollars" and "burden finances in these difficult economic times."
Some have been confused, frightened and unsure what to do with the official-looking notice from HomeServe
The company ran into trouble in other states where customers complained about the mailings, most recently in
Attorneys general in
The company sent mail to 600,000 customers in
"There were some complaints in just a handful of states," Meehan said. "We worked with state agencies to improve our materials to make it more clear."
The mailing does advise customers that the company is "an independent company separate from your local utility or community" and the offer is an "optional service plan."
But Meehan said consumers often are unaware they are responsible for the pipes in the first place and "don't fully read the information."
And homeowners are indeed responsible, generally, for the water pipes on their own property, local officials say, but to find out whether the homeowner's insurance policy covers those pipes, a call to the insurance agent is necessary.
Water pipes do break. At the city of
"If the break is located between the meter and the house, it will be the responsibility of the property owner," Adams said. "If the break is not in this area, it will be the responsibility of the city."
But the letter implies that
His elderly mother-in-law in
"It is obviously, to me, a scam, because she's elderly and was worried they were going to sign the authorization and take money from her account," Gilbert said.
Customers are asked to send a check and allow future withdrawals directly from their bank accounts.
"Our office is currently reviewing those complaints," Lucas said.
One senior citizen in
"Where we live," she went on, "we are not responsible for any water lines."
The best way to find out? Call your insurance agent.
[email protected] or 954-356-4541.
(c)2012 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
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