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Is water line protection worth it?

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UPDATE 1/1613:  Cincinnati area homeowners are reporting another barrage of letters this winter urging them to sign up for underground water pipe protection, for a fee of $60 a year.

While the company is legitimate, and has a good rating with the Better Business Bureau, Cincinnati Water Works does not endorse this program and is not affiliated with any of these companies.

Read our original report below on what happened to one man who tried to make a claim after buying one of these policies.

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ORIGINAL REPORT:

Many Cincinnati area homeowners have received letters in the mail offering protection for their underground water, sewer, or electric lines.

They often tell you that a repair could cost you two thousand dollars if you don't have coverage.

But as one couple found out, there are some things they don't tell you up front.

Protection for old pipes

Pat McKendrick lives in an old home with old pipes in Cincinnati's Madisonville neighborhood.

So an offer for protection for his underground water and sewer lines sounded promising.

McKendrick said "it sounded attractive, especially since we are living in a home built in 1920. We figured we might have some plumbing problems so it sounded good."

And it was just $65 a year. He said "so we signed up for it."

Then, one Saturday a few months later, the main drain out of his house backed up.

McKendrick immediately called the company's 24 hour emergency hotline. But he told me "when the phone would ring they said the lines were busy, and please stay on the line, then the next message was' we appreciate your business, please stay on the line,' over and over."

So McKendrick tried again...and again...all weekend long. He said "I did that for 15 minutes to a half hour, and then I tried it again. And then I tried again, and got the same thing."

Frustrated, Pat finally called a local plumber who he said found the clog in about 3 hours.

He ended up footing the $200 bill himself.

Many Exclusions

Several companies offer underground water and sewer protection. But they often have so many exceptions, that many public water departments do not endorse them.

These plans often exclude damage caused by digging, landslides, flooding, other earth movement, or defective pipes. The same exclusions often apply to underground wire protection, if your electric runs underground.

If you are considering underground protection, check the company with the Better Business Bureau, or your local water works.

You decide if this is a case of don't waste your money.

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Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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Copyright Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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