HOUSTON – Many of you are leery of letters sent to thousands of homes offering you gas line coverage in case your gas line should need repairs. You’ve asked KPRC 2 to put this program through our Trust Index to find out what it’s all about.
A Katy homeowner emailed us asking “Is this necessary? And is it a way to get Centerpoint to get more money for nothing?”
First, some background
Centerpoint Energy contracted with HomeServe in June 2018 to help send out the letters and get customers signed up for the warranties. As with any warranty or insurance product, some people may need it, while others don’t.
If you have ever had a water or gas line break, you may have been shocked to learn, if the damage is anywhere in the line going from the curb to your home or from your gas meter into your home, you have to pay for the repairs. And they aren’t cheap.
“We’ve seen, on average, gas line repairs average around $1500 a repair, which is significant,” said Centerpoint’s Director of Home Services Rick Plummer. “And a lot of customers haven’t really saved up for those repairs.”
Is coverage necessary?
If you don’t have at least $1500 saved for emergency repairs, it wouldn’t hurt to sign up for the gas line protection offered by HomeServe and endorsed by Centerpoint.
They will add $5.49 plus tax to your monthly gas bill. If your pipes are damaged, you can call the home serve repair line 24/7. They’ll send a local, licensed, insured contractor to inspect the line. If the damage is covered under the service contract, the contractor will make repairs or replace the line, up to $8,000.
It is possible you could pay that $5.49 every month for years and never need to use the warranty coverage. In that scenario, where does your money go?
Does Centerpoint get a cut of the premiums?
Consumer expert Amy Davis asked Plummer that question. He said Centerpoint is making money from the program.
“We do have a agreement with HomeServe; and I’m not at liberty to share that,” he said.
Centerpoint’s agreement with HomeServe isn’t just for your gas lines, which is Centerpoint main industry.
The energy company is also pitching warranties for your water and sewer lines, your heating and cooling systems and your electrical system. Centerpoint and HomeServe share the cost of sending out the letters and marketing materials.
“We’re connecting them with quality service providers,” Plummer said. “Cause it’s difficult sometimes to find somebody good to get the work done in your home.”
On the KPRC 2 Trust Index scale, we rate this a green, “True.”
Bottom line. The coverage is not a scam. You can choose to buy it or not. The older your home is, the more likely you might be to have issues with your water or gas lines.