Blog Service Line Coverage in Ontario

Jun 8, 2023

Should you get service line insurance?

underground service lines

Did you know you are responsible for the underground service lines on your property? If something goes wrong and they need to be replaced, you might have to pay out of pocket if your policy does not include service line coverage.

Service line coverage is often one of the overlooked areas of home insurance. This additional protection can protect you from losses due to damage to service lines. In this blog post, we'll delve into the details of service line coverage in Ontario, exploring what it is, why it matters, and how it can provide homeowners with peace of mind.

Click below to go to key points

What is a service line?
What does service line coverage include & how does it work?
Issues related to damaged service lines
How to add service line protection to your policy
FAQS about service line coverage

What is a service line?

A service line refers to the underground or above-ground pipes, conduits, or cables that connect a property to the municipal or utility service infrastructure. These lines deliver essential services such as water, sewer, drainage, gas, electricity, or internet connectivity to residential and commercial buildings.

Here are some common types of service lines :

  • Water service line : This line connects a property to the municipal water supply system. It carries potable water into the building for various uses such as drinking, bathing, cooking, and irrigation.
  • Sewer service line : The sewer service line carries wastewater from the building's plumbing fixtures, such as toilets, sinks, and drains, to the municipal sewer system or a septic tank.
  • Gas service line : Gas service lines deliver natural gas or propane from the utility provider's main line to a property. They supply fuel for heating, cooking, and other gas-powered appliances.
  • Electrical service line : This line carries electricity from the utility provider's power grid to a property's electrical panel. It powers the building's lighting, appliances, and electrical systems.
  • Telephone and internet service lines : These lines transmit telephone signals and internet connectivity from the service provider's network to the property.

Understanding the types and conditions of the service lines on your property is important for ensuring proper maintenance, identifying potential issues, and obtaining appropriate coverage to protect against unexpected damages or repairs.

What is service line coverage?

Service line coverage is an element of an insurance policy that protects homeowners from costly repairs or damages associated with service lines that are connected to their properties. Unfortunately, these lines are susceptible to damage due to various factors, including tree root invasion, ground shifts, aging, and severe weather. The repairs or replacement of service lines can be a significant financial burden, often costing thousands of dollars.

In Ontario, homeowners are typically responsible for maintaining and repairing their service lines from the point where they connect to the municipal service infrastructure to their property. This is where ensuring you have an adequate amount of service line coverage on your Ontario home insurance, becomes crucial, as it can help offset the financial impact of unexpected repairs or replacements.

How does service line insurance work?

Service line coverage typically protects against wear and tear, deterioration, mechanical breakdown, or accidental damage. It can cover costs associated with excavation, repair, replacement, and even living expenses during the repair process.

It is important to note that service line coverage may vary among insurance providers. Some policies might have specific exclusions or limitations, such as only covering damage caused by sudden events rather than gradual deterioration and various deductibles. It's crucial to review your policy carefully and consult with your provider to understand the specifics of your coverage.

How much does service line coverage cost?

The cost of service line coverage can vary depending on several factors, including the insurance provider, the specific coverage limits and deductibles chosen, the property's location, and the service lines' age and condition. On average, the cost of adding service line coverage to a homeowners' insurance policy can range from $30 to $100 per year.

While the additional premium for service line coverage may seem like an extra expense, it can provide significant financial protection and save homeowners from incurring substantial out-of-pocket costs in the event of service line damage.

Causes of loss from service line damage

Service line damage can occur due to various causes, and the specific causes of loss can depend on factors such as the type of service line (water, sewer, power, etc.), the location, and the surrounding environmental conditions. Here are some common causes of loss from service line damage:

  • Age and deterioration : Service lines can deteriorate over time due to aging and regular wear and tear.
  • Tree root invasion : Tree roots are attracted to sources of moisture, which can lead them to infiltrate service lines. As tree roots grow, they can pressure the pipes, causing cracks or blockages. This can result in water or sewage backups and interruptions in power or communication lines.
  • Ground shifting and settling : Changes in the ground, such as soil erosion, settlement, or ground shifting due to geological factors or construction activities, can stress service lines. This can cause misalignment, cracks, or breaks in the pipes.
  • Freezing and thawing : In colder climates, freezing and thawing cycles can impact service lines. Water lines are susceptible to freezing, leading to pipe bursts and subsequent water damage.
  • Corrosion and rust : Corrosion and rust can occur in metal service lines, especially in older infrastructure. This can weaken the pipes and result in leaks or breaks, leading to water or gas line failures.
  • Excavation and construction : Accidental damage to service lines during excavation or construction activities can cause immediate disruptions or damage. Digging without proper knowledge of the location of service lines can result in line strikes and subsequent repairs.
  • External forces : External factors such as natural disasters, severe weather events, or accidents (e.g., vehicle collisions) can also damage service lines. Floods, earthquakes, storms, and other events can lead to service line issues.

Reviewing the policy language and discussing it with your insurance provider can clarify the specific causes of loss covered by your service line coverage.

excavation in process

What’s covered in the event of a loss from service line damage?

Depending on your policy and the cause of the service line claim, you may be covered in the following areas:

  • Excavation costs : You’ll potentially be covered for the costs of extraction needed to expose and repair the damaged lines.
  • Loss of use : Additional living expenses may be covered if your home becomes uninhabitable from the service line disruption.
  • Outdoor property : If your outdoor property - plants, patios, or fences are damaged, replacement might be covered.
  • Repair expenses : Additional costs of temporary repairs.

How to get service line coverage

Homeowners in Ontario can typically add service line coverage as an endorsement to their policy. Contact your insurer to discuss the options available and determine the additional cost of adding this coverage.

Service line coverage FAQs

Yes, service line coverage is important. It can help protect you from costly repairs, problems from aging infrastructure, and unforeseen events and help ease the claims process. While service line coverage may involve an additional cost, it can save homeowners significant money in the long run. Comparing home insurance from multiple insurers can help you find the best coverage at a competitive price.

Yes, insurance coverage for service lines is available and can be obtained as an add-on to a policy. Service line coverage protects homeowners from the costs of repairing or replacing service lines that connect their property to the municipal infrastructure. Remember that the coverage has specific inclusions, exclusions, and limitations.

Sewer line insurance is similar to service line coverage. If you have this additional protection on your policy, you might be covered for any fees associated with locating and repairing damaged lines on your property.