City of Albert Lea offering protection program for utility lines

The City of Albert Lea is helping residents and landlords cover costly repairs to their water and sewer lines by offering a protection program for $5.50 per month. The program will go into effect Aug. 1 with the fee appearing on the utility bill that you receive at the end of September.

Like many cities, Albert Lea is facing the challenge of replacing aging infrastructure. Between 50 and 90 homes a year in Albert Lea experience a line repair of some kind.

The city is providing this program through a company called HomeServe:

    • The program will cover the repair cost – up to $8,500 – per incident of frozen pipes, tree root damage, line breaks, and other problems in the water and sewer lines on residential property.
    • It will cover residential water lines from the house to the curb stop and sewer lines from the house to the trunk main.
    • There is no limit on the number of incidents covered, and the service will be available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
    • Local licensed contractors will provide the repairs.

Homeowners are responsible for repairs to their water and sewer lines from their house to the curb or trunk main.

The city will enroll all eligible residential properties in the program, unless property owners decline the service.

You may decline the service by:

    • Calling the City of Albert Lea Finance Department at 507-377-4300
    • Stopping at the Finance Department window at City Hall, 221 E. Clark St.
    • Downloading, completing and returning the online form to the Finance Department, 221 E. Clark St., Albert Lea, MN 56007

For more information, contact the Finance Department at 507-377-4300. Also see the Terms and Conditions.

Frequently asked questions:

Why is the City of Albert Lea providing this coverage?
Many homeowners are not aware that they are responsible for their exterior utility lines, which are underground water lines from your house to curb and sewer lines from your house to the trunk main. A broken or blocked water or sewer line can cost thousands of dollars to repair or replace, and many times residents are not prepared for this unexpected expense.

Do homeowners really need this coverage?
It is difficult to determine when a pipe may fail, with key contributors being the type of piping material, age of the service pipe, soil conditions and installation quality. The median age of homes in the U.S. is 36 years, and can be much higher in various parts of the country, which means many service pipes are functioning on borrowed time. Water and sewer line repairs can be costly, with a water line replacement costing an average of $2,500 in the U.S., and a sewer line costing $3,929.

Your property insurance may already provide this type of coverage so be sure to check it before deciding whether to stay enrolled in the city’s program or decline it. 

What properties does the program cover?

Residential properties with 4 units or less.

Are townhomes and condos eligible?

Their eligibility depends on whether the townhome/condo association is responsible for repairs or the individual townhome/condo owners. Because of the complications and variability in determining who is responsible, townhome and condo owners need to contact the Finance Department to see if they are eligible, and if so, to enroll.

What does this protection plan cover?

  • Up to $8,500 coverage per incident on your exterior water service line for repair/replacement of leaking, clogged or broken lines from the point of the utility connection to the foundation wall of your home exterior.
  • Up to $8,500 coverage per incident on your exterior sewer service line for repair/replacement of leaking, clogged or broken lines from the main, which includes the lower lateral to the home exterior.
  • No annual or lifetime limits, deductibles, service fees, forms or paperwork.
  • 24/7/365 availability.
  • Repairs made by licensed local contractors.

When does the protection plan take effect?
The City of Albert Lea’s protection plans goes into effect starting Aug. 1, 2022. A company called Service Line Warranties of America (SWLA) will arrange for repairs. SLWA  representatives will be available to take customer calls 24/7/365 and schedule appointments for repairs.

Do I  have to pay for a service call?
There is no fee to make a service call.

How can I request a service call?
Call SLWA at 855-336-2465 to schedule a service call. SLWA will assign and dispatch a local, licensed contractor right to your home to handle all covered repairs.

Who is SLWA?
Service Line Warranties of America, a subsidiary of HomeServe USA Corp. (“HomeServe”), is the entity obligated to provide service. SLWA is your point-of-contact for all questions or concerns regarding the servicing of this protection agreement. For questions about this service contact SLWA at 1-877-444-7750.

How much does the protection plan cost?
The protection plan costs $5.50 a month and is included on your monthly utility bill from the City of Albert Lea.

Will the cost increase next year?
The city has no plans to increase the $5.50 a month fee. HomeServe has locked in its fee for 5 years.

How can I decline the protection plan?
You may decline the service by:

  • Calling the City of Albert Lea Finance Department at 507-377-4300
  • Stopping at the Finance Department window at City Hall, 221 E. Clark St.
  • Downloading, completing and returning the online form to the Finance Department, 221 E. Clark St., Albert Lea, MN 56007

Why are residential properties automatically enrolled in the program?
The City chose the decline-only option to secure a much lower cost for the program.

If I decline the program now, may I enroll later?
Yes, you may enroll later, but there will be a 30-day waiting period to make any claims for repairs to your utility lines.

Do other cities in our region offer this program?
Yes, Owatonna, Austin and Rochester have similar kinds of protection programs.