Officials urge homeowners to read fine print

An offer to insure waterlines includes exclusions for most situations.

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WALLA WALLA -- Walla Walla and College Place residents have been receiving a letter in their mail from a company called Home Emergency Insurance Solutions offering to insure their waterlines for a mere $5 per month.

Sandi Olson, a crime victim advocate for Walla Walla, said the offer was "right on the edge of being a scam," in an email to the Union-Bulletin.

"When reading the very fine print at the bottom of the document, the exclusions are so restrictive that I don't think any type of leak would qualify," Olsen wrote.

Glenda Thompson, an insurance agent for McDonald Zaring, agreed the policy's exclusions, which include acts of God, faulty construction, improper maintenance, freezing and thawing and normal wear and tear, were very exclusive.

Stephanie Marquis, spokesman for the Washington Insurance Commissioner, said the company is, however, a licensed insurance agent in Washington state and is underwritten by Wesco Insurance Company.

"They do have a license with us," Marquis said. "They are an authorized insurance agent."

Marquis did say, however, homeowners need to make sure they understand what is and isn't covered.

"You have to read the fine print to find out exactly what you're going to get for your money," Marquis said, adding, "It's pretty difficult to understand what a covered event would be."

Mori Stuve, the Walla Walla Public Works manager, said one of the main causes of waterline problems is aging pipes, something specifically excluded from the offered coverage.

"If someone has a break, it's likely going to be one of these (excluded) things," Stuve said. "I'd want them to explain exactly what is covered."

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