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Better Business Bureau issues statement on HomeServe letter

Less than a week after Beltrami County released a statement regarding letters being circulated by HomeServe USA, the Better Business Bureau is weighing in.

The BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota on Tuesday issued the following press release:

Minnesota consumers have been contacting the BBB regarding a mailing from HomeServe USA. The mailings inform recipients that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their exterior water lines, leaving them liable for repairs which could potentially cost thousands of dollars. It then provides an 800 number and a deadline to enroll in their Water Service Line Coverage.

Some consumers have stated the mailings appear to be from a government or county agency.

The BBB is advising consumers to review these notices carefully, particularly the portion that states, "HomeServe is an independent company separate from your local utility or community."

The BBB also notes that while the company is correct when they say homeowners are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their water lines - from the street to their meters - the warranty coverage they offer is optional, not mandatory.

"Similar to any warranty, service plan, or insurance policy it is up to the consumer to determine its value and whether or not it's worth purchasing," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB. "They should also be clear about what is covered under the policy offered, as well as what is not covered."

While some homeowners may not be covered for the line repairs offered by HomeServe USA, anyone who is uncertain should call his or her water department to avoid paying for duplicate coverage. Homeowners also should also review the homeowner's insurance policy to see if coverage is already provided, as well as contact his or her insurance company to ask how this coverage would work in conjunction with the current policy.

HomeServe USA is headquartered in Miami, Fla. The company also claims a P.O. Box in St. Paul. The Business Review with the Better Business Bureau of South East Florida gives them an "A" rating, but notes that they have previously entered into consent agreements with the states of Kentucky and Ohio for mailing solicitations that "generated confusion" and were found to be "unfair and deceptive" in their appearance. HomeServe USA is not currently accredited with the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota.

The BBB recommends the following tips:

E Read the service contract very carefully and make sure you have a clear understanding of it, especially each of the exclusions, before agreeing to buy coverage. Do not purchase any coverage over the phone without seeing a contract with all details that were discussed verbally set down in writing.

E Make sure you are familiar with the company's cancellation policy in case you change your mind after signing up.

E Check the company's BBB Reliability Report at to see if there are any unanswered, unresolved or unusual pattern of complaints that other consumers have noticed.