At least one Madison family is still on the fence about getting new sewer line insurance after having to shell out for their own repairs.
Most Madison residents have received a letter recently about new sewer line insurance. Madison engineers have been fielding questions regarding the origin and veracity of these letters.
The offer is real, but optional, according to city officials. Residents do not have to buy into the insurance to protect their sewer lines.
But it’s also true that the city won't be covering repairs, and while rare, those repairs can cost thousands.
Dan Nelson is one resident who received the letter offering sewer line insurance last week.
"It's not often that the city is going to sell you insurance," said Nelson. "I almost threw it away."
But Nelson decided he had better give the letter a good read-through before doing anything hasty.
"The first thing it says is, 'You are responsible for the maintenance and repair of your sewer service line.' It didn't surprise me because a year ago, I had to do that."
What Nelson is referring to is what happened when his sewer lines backed up last year. The city checked from the manhole cover in the middle of Carnwood Road to sidewalk for problems. The tree root growing into the line turned out to be from Nelson's yard.
So he was responsible for repairs.
"Fortunately, that was fairly simple," Nelson said. He paid $90 for that fix, but some sewer line repairs can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Those are repairs the city can't cover anymore.
Ever since the passage of a new state law, work on private property anywhere in the state of Wisconsin – not just in Madison – has to be done by a private company.
"That was the benefit of the city doing the work," said deputy city engineer Mike Dailey. "We could be trusted, we could do it economically, and we'd just take all of the stress off of the homeowner."
The letter Nelson recently got in the mail outlined a new policy Madison homeowners can pick up: For $70 per year, homeowners can get up to $10,000 of sewer line coverage.
But Nelson isn’t sold.
"A lot of neighbors have talked about it," said Nelson. "Is it a scam? Is it something we should do or not? I think the jury is still out on that."
The city is busy assuring people that the offer is not a scam, but an option.
For Madison homeowners who enroll in the coverage before December 15, the insurance will take effect immediately.