Archive for September, 2013

September 26, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions on Water Service Line Coverage Available through HomeServe

I thought DMWW owned the service line.  Why would I pay for something the water utility is responsible for?

Many customers don’t realize the entire exterior water service line that connects your home with Des Moines Water Works’ water main is your responsibility as a homeowner. If you were unfortunate enough to suffer a break in this line, or discover an inoperable shutoff valve, it would be up to you to find a plumber and face potentially costly repairs. For more information on homeowners’ responsibilities, please visit Service Line Overview.

Why offer this program?

Utility staff recognized the need to explore offering a service line maintenance program for two reasons.  Primarily, warranty companies, including HomeServe USA (HomeServe) and their competitors, were already soliciting customers in the Des Moines market. However, because these companies were not working in collaboration with DMWW and didn’t necessarily understand the customer’s responsibility for their service line, those program offerings did not offer adequate coverage that would best meet our customers’ needs. For example, no unaffiliated program offered coverage of the external shut-off valve (stopbox), which accounts for about 75% of our customers’ repairs.  Customers were purchasing coverage that was not necessarily well-suited for their needs. Secondly, Des Moines Water Works staff speaks with customers weekly who have difficulty funding the unexpected expenses that come with a service line leak or inoperable stopbox. These customers are looking for options to help manage their risk related to their water service line.

What process did Des Moines Water Works go through to select HomeServe?

The utility sent a Request for Proposal to several companies in 2012, and after a thorough review of responses, Des Moines Water Works selected HomeServe as the utility’s recommended provider. Utility staff worked diligently with HomeServe to customize a program that offers comprehensive coverage at a price of $4.99 per month. The HomeServe program covers repairs to the shut-off valve (stop box), and in addition, has no coverage limits or deductibles like many plans have. Des Moines Water Works is not aware of any program that matches this program’s benefits and price.

I’ve heard HomeServe has a negative BBB rating.

As part of Des Moines Water Works’ due diligence, staff thoughtfully considered BBB information for all companies submitting proposals, and found both positive and negative ratings specifically for HomeServe. Staff found the negative ratings stemmed from the company’s marketing practices in areas where the company did not collaborate with the local utility, causing confusion with the utility’s customers. DMWW staff is directly involved in the development and approval of the marketing materials to ensure customers are aware the program is optional and to ensure coverage and costs are clearly stated. It is important to note that HomeServe’s BBB rating is currently an A-.

Who pays for marketing?

HomeServe pays for all marketing materials. Des Moines Water Works’ contract allows four mailings to be sent per year. Des Moines Water Works staff participates with HomeServe in the development of the mailings and approves the materials before they are mailed to customers. Customers are able to opt out of mailings by contacting HomeServe at 1-855-695-1493.

How many DMWW customers have signed up for the program?

About one in four customers have chosen to enroll in the optional program, and while staff has not spoken with every customer who has made a claim, several customers we have spoken with have related positive experiences.

How many customers really experience service line issues?

The table below shows the number of external shut-off valve repairs and the number of water service leak repairs Des Moines Water Works has coordinated with customers each of the last ten years.

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Valve Repairs

411

763

677

504

868

1,008

917

644

555

581

Leak Repairs

180

187

137

86

132

143

176

146

163

154

Total Repairs

591

950

814

590

1,000

1,151

1,093

790

718

735

 

Isn’t this just a way for Des Moines Water Works to make money?

Des Moines Water Works receives a 5% billing re-imbursement fee from HomeServe for each new enrollment that covers the cost of billing on DMWW’s monthly statement. The primary objective in offering this program is to provide an optional service to customers—not for the revenue.

Why don’t you offer sewer line coverage?

Des Moines Water Works offers its customers this optional coverage for water service line. Sewer line coverage is available through HomeServe, but because Des Moines Water Works is not affiliated with that product in any manner and has not reviewed the plan in terms of coverage, cost, exclusions, etc., we do not endorse it.  In addition, the cost for sewer line coverage or any other product offered by HomeServe is not available for billing on your monthly DMWW bill.

Who is eligible to enroll in the program?

  • Single-family residents in the City of Des Moines and Des Moines Water Works’ total service areas
  • Landlords with sole responsibility for the water service line, which may support up to six residential units.

Residences not affixed to a permanent foundation, recreational vehicles and properties used for commercial purposes are not eligible for coverage.

What is covered by the program?

You will be covered for qualified costs to repair or replace the broken or leaking exterior water service line, from the water meter inside your home to the Des Moines Water Works water main, including the cost to repair the exterior shut-off valve. This includes all service call charges, labor and materials for covered repairs, and basic restoration.

If I have a meter pit what is covered by the program?

The line is covered from the main to the where the line enters the primary residence on the property.  Repairs to the pit itself are not covered by the program.

Who will be doing the work?

HomeServe contracts with local, licensed and qualified plumbers.

In the event of a home emergency, just call HomeServe toll-free at 1-855-695-1493. A local, licensed and insured plumber will be dispatched to your home to make your repair or replacement. Once covered repairs are completed, just sign the repair form and HomeServe pays the plumber directly for you.

How do I enroll in the program?

You can contact HomeServe directly at 1-855-695-1493 or visit HomeServe

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 2 Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers September 5, 2013

Water Works Park Bridle Trails

KIMG0230With the upcoming Water Works Park Open House on Tuesday, September 10, there is a lot of dreaming of what Water Works Park could offer to the community and visitors of Des Moines in the future.  One unique and often hidden treasure of Water Works Park available today are the beautiful bridle trails.

Des Moines Water Works boasts several miles of bridle trails on the north side of the Raccoon River in Water Works Park.  Avid and novice horsemen and women regularly visit the signed trails that wind throughout the park and the “Lost Planet” area.  Horseback riders will encounter several species of wildlife on their excursion through the park, including white-tail deer, red fox, coyotes, and bald eagles.  The trails are groomed and are accessible year-round.  Riders can gain access to the trails off of Edwards Street, which is south of Grand by the Valley Park Stables.

Enjoy!

Posted by: Scott Atzen No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Parks