Covering the buried peril of underground utility linesBy William C. Schlager | July 21, 2020
Buried utility lines—wires, pipes, and conduits of various kinds—deliver essential service to millions of homes, often protected from many of the elements that can damage exposed equipment. But underground utility lines aren’t immune from damage, and because they’re out of sight, they can be out of mind until they fail.
Some homeowners may assume that utility providers and/or municipalities are responsible to mitigate damage when mishaps involving underground connections occur. It’s only when losses resulting from such failures occur that many of those homeowners realize they can be on the hook for several thousands of dollars, as repairing to damage to these lines can be their responsibility and may not be covered by their homeowners insurance. Carriers have an opportunity to help ease the minds of their customers with a coverage tool that addresses an often-overlooked peril.
A new coverage endorsement
ISO has recently launched a new homeowners coverage option for damage to underground utility lines. The new endorsement for the ISO Homeowners Program is designed to include coverage with respect to damage to a range of equipment delivering municipal or commercial utility services such as water, sewer, gas, steam, electricity, and communications. The covered causes of loss in the ISO endorsement include wear and tear, bursting, explosion, implosion or collapse, and damage from trees or other plants
Excavating a damaged utility line, fixing or replacing it, and repairing related damage can cost thousands of dollars. Costs related to compliance with changing municipal codes can add to the loss, and some homeowners may incur additional living expenses and loss of rental income if the property must be temporarily vacated. For such additional losses, ISO’s endorsement provides up to 10 percent of the coverage limit. ISO’s basic coverage limit for this endorsement is $10,000 per loss, with pricing support available for optional limits of $25,000 and $50,000.
To complement the endorsement, ISO has also introduced associated rules and loss costs. ISO began the state-by-state filing process for this new endorsement in June 2020.