City of Ottawa-approved pipe protection program tries to enroll residents again [Boss Insurance]

City Of Ottawa-Approved Pipe Protection Program Tries To Enroll Residents Again

City of Ottawa staff say the relaunch of an insurance-style sewer protection program will incorporate lessons learned from 2021, when many residents were confused and angry at the offer of voluntary coverage from a private company with City approval.

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This summer, letters from Service Line Warranties of Canada (SLWC) will be mailed to residents’ residences, giving them the option of signing up for a warranty program that would help cover the cost of repairing water and household pipes. underground sewer, if the need arises. .

Homeowners are responsible for a portion of the pipes under their private properties that connect their homes to city-owned water and sewer lines — something many residents aren’t aware of, according to city staff. Bringing attention to this potential drain on owners’ wallets is a key City argument for its team with SLWC.

Although the goal of the program has been the same since it was first offered to residents two years ago, the ensuing controversy over how it was communicated to people at the time has resulted in a number of changes in the next sales pitch that will come to residents. ‘ mail boxes.

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Many locals in 2021 wondered if they were dealing with a scam when they received their mails. Others were angry because it looked like the city was trying to sell insurance for something that might have already been covered by home insurance policies, and some didn’t like SLWC’s success in getting their home addresses. .

City staff addressed all of those concerns in a presentation Monday and advocated for the program itself. The Board approved the creation of a protective plumbing program in 2016, but it took years to set up.

“Imagine waking up to find water gushing out of your lawn. Imagine calling your insurance company and finding out that you are not covered for necessary repairs and damage. Imagine calling a qualified contractor and discover that the repair will cost you thousands of dollars”, Marilyn Journeauxdirector of linear water services and customer services, told attendees at Monday’s briefing.

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Canada’s Service Line Warranties are Canadian-owned and operated by Ontario, staff told councilors and reporters in attendance, and its optional Service Line Protection program has now been endorsed by 79 municipalities in Ontario.

Residents are encouraged to check with their insurer if their policy includes repairs to the private portion of service lines on their properties. Although the city’s agreement with SLWC includes use of the city’s logo and the city’s approval of the company’s marketing plan, SLWC obtains mailing lists independently and the city does not provide addresses or contact details.

The letters, which are expected to be sent out in two installments this summer with an initial notice and a reminder, will now include SLWC branding alongside the city logo.

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Another change from 2021 includes “the removal of any undue perceived obligation to apply,” said Brian Simpson, water utilities customer service manager. This meant removing the phrase “please respond to the request” and having no time limit for residents to provide a response.

Capital County Shawn Menard, Chairman andEnvironment and Climate Change Committee, said he was pleased on Monday to see the changes in communications by staff, which followed a motion he brought to the committee in May 2021 for staff to consider the launch the program and report to the board.

As for the continuation of the program itself, “I want to see how this deployment goes,” Ménard said. “If this one goes well, I think we are in a better position. If it’s not going well, then I think we have to review the program.

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It was staff who decided in August 2022 to extend the program for another five years, with the board sending a memo beforehand, “To let them know we were moving forward with the contract extension and to give them an opportunity to comment or get back to the staff if they had any concerns,” Simpson said.

This process was not going well with Orléans East-Cumberland County. Matthew Luloff on Monday, who pointed out that the extension memo came during the busy run-up to the municipal election, on a topic that had previously caused great consternation.

“We hear so often… that old councils cannot bind future councils to a decision – well, it seems that is exactly what happened in this case.”

Asked about the thinking behind the staff-led extension, Simpson said it “gives us a window to relaunch” and data shows it is helping some residents. Staff will review the program leading to the five-year mark when another extension is possible.

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“While the initial launch in 2021 may not have gone as well as we anticipated and wished, we know the need and adoption was there,” Simpson said.

As for resident participation in response to the initial offer mailed in 2021, Linda Uhryniuk, Program Manager for Localizations, Derivations and Grants, says it was around three percent or 4,000 to 5,000 guarantees and less than 2,000 customers. The numbers have since dropped, in the absence of any follow-up mailings.

More than 350 claims have been submitted under the program since its launch, representing more than $500,000 in work, Simpson said. The total number of incidents for which this program provides coverage was not something staff could talk about, as the city has no involvement in repairs to private portions of service lines.

The program is revenue neutral for the city, according to Uhryniuk. She said the five percent of the revenue the city receives from any registration with the SLWC – about $18,000 a year – offsets the city’s costs of administering the program.

With files from Postmedia staff

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