City "Partners" with Private US Firm offering Homeowner Protection Plans
The City of Ottawa has "partnered" with a private American company offering protection plans to homeowners to "help cover repair costs" associated with water lines, sewer/septic service lines, and stormwater sewer service lines.
The city's website states that participation in coverage plans offered by Service Line Warranties of Canada (SLWC) is “optional and voluntary” and that “the City in no way warrants or is liable for the work or performance of SLWC.” The City also indicates that it receives compensation from SLWC for use of the City of Ottawa logo on the company’s promotional material.
"If this private partner doesn't do its job properly, the city might end up on the hook for whatever damages they cause or whatever work they haven't done. And that to me as a taxpayer ... concerns me," said Stéphane Émard-Chabot, a former Ottawa city councillor now teaching municipal law at the University of Ottawa, when speaking with CBC News in February 2021.
Many local homeowners have already received promotional material from SLWC which features the City of Ottawa logo, and appears to come from the City. The material was in fact mailed by Service Line Warranties of Canada (SLWC) which is based in Pennsylvania.
CBC Ottawa obtained a copy of the partnership agreement which shows the city will receive a quarterly royalty of 5 per cent of all revenue SLWC earns from the sales of its service plans in Ottawa.
If considering a service agreement with SLWC, it's recommended to first check coverage with your own insurance company — your policy may already cover the cost of repairing or replacing underground water and sewer pipes. If not, you may be able to add that coverage for a lower amount than the monthly fees charged by SLWC.
Check also with the City to determine the age and material of water service pipes to your house.
Related Reading (Updated):
Sewer Repair Partnership with U.S. Firm puts City at Risk, Prof Says | CBC News, Feb. 25, 2021
Unravelling the Mystery Behind Sewer Line Warrantee Packages | CBC News, March 20 2021