Insurance Against Lateral Catastrophes

In Mishawaka, Indiana, residents are protected against sewer repair costs through an innovative insurance program
Insurance Against Lateral Catastrophes

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Editor's note: This article is part of a profile on the Mishawaka, Indiana, Department of Sewer Maintenance, which was published in the September 2015 issue of Municipal Sewer & Water.

It’s not uncommon for residents to have to cough up a large amount of money to pay for repairs to sewer lines running from their property to the street. Often, they think the sewer utility is responsible for the lateral, only to discover that the bill is theirs to pay.

In Mishawaka, Indiana, however, residents are protected against catastrophic sewer repair costs through an innovative insurance program.

As part of their regular sewer bill, homeowners pay $1.50 a month into a sewer insurance fund. The fund pays all costs in excess of $250 that are directly attributable to the repair of a private sewer lateral connection between the foundation wall of the home and the city’s trunk sewer line. The fund also covers all costs associated with the removal and replacement of public streets, curbs and sidewalks as a result of the repair. If the situation simply requires routine cleaning or maintenance, the homeowner is responsible for that cost.

Tom Dolly, manager of Mishawaka Department of Sewer Maintenance, reports that in 2014 there were 43 calls from residents concerning sewer lateral issues. A little more than half of those incidents qualified for repair under the insurance program. Total payout from the insurance fund was just over $180,000 — or about $7,800 per project.


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