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Thursday, October 23, 2014  |   Madison, WI: 52.0° F  
MADLAND: A group blog about life in Madison, Wisconsin
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Citizen Dave: Why I passed on sewer lateral insurance
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If you're like me, you don't give a lot of thought to your sewer lateral. Except maybe lately you have.

Ever since a letter hit Madison property owners offering to insure the piece of pipe that connects our homes to the sewer main in the street, I've been getting questions from friends and neighbors about it. They want to know if they should pay the $70 annual insurance rate offered by Service Line Warranties of America.

What I want to say is how the heck should I know? I'm as confused about this as anybody.

It used to be that the city would take care of this, but then the Wisconsin Legislature banned all municipalities from doing work on private property. I don't know why, but my guess is that businesses like Service Line Warranties of America just might have had something to do with that. Last year in Milwaukee, the company cleared over a million dollars after settling claims.

Anyway, I've told people who ask me about it that as far as I can tell, the chances of my sewer lateral going out on me are slimmer than my chances of competing in the Masters and winning the coveted green jacket. So, I didn't buy it, but I'm not suggesting that anybody take the same risk. After all, I've been working on my swing and I wouldn't rule out a trip to Augusta one of these springs.

Now it turns out I can be more confident in that answer -- at least the part about the insurance. The city engineering department reports that sewer lateral mishaps happen about a dozen times a year. There are something like 60,000 households in Madison. So, that makes your chances of sewer calamity one in about five thousand.

Now the insurance also covers Roto-Rooter type fixes which are more common, but at my house we've had to do that once in the sixteen years we've been there, and that runs about $200. So, unless you're figuring on calling Roto-Rooter every three years, you're better off taking the risk for that as well.

I like them odds. I'll save my $70.

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