City promotes insurance company

November 2, 2018 GMT

KANKAKEE — Kankakee doesn’t sell insurance, but it is letting an insurance company use its logo.

That’s because the city is endorsing Canonsburg, Pa.-based Utility Service Partners Inc. as a provider of sewer and water line insurance. It is among many companies to offer such services, but the only one to receive the city’s blessing.

By endorsing Utility Service Partners, the city will receive a royalty of up to $1.50 per month for each homeowner who signs up for the insurance. Residents are responsible for the lines that run through their properties, which is where the optional insurance comes in.

Cities around the United States have signed up with the company, which is cooperating with the National League of Cities, to which Kankakee belongs.

“This is the time of year we start getting calls from people about pipes freezing and breaking,” Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong said in her monthly Facebook town hall Monday night. “Our team will go out and look at properties (with pipe problems) and find that lines aren’t on city property. The residents get very upset when we tell them.”

Wells-Armstrong said Kankakee will allow its logo to be used on Utility Service’s mailings because the city checked out the company, which sends out letters three times per year.

“They’ll cover your lines and provide you education,” the mayor said.

It’s unclear whether the National League of Cities gets any benefit from its agreement with Utility Service Partners. Representatives of the league declined to say, and Utility Service didn’t return a call for comment.

Five years ago, Sauk Valley Media, the newspaper in Sterling, asked the league what it gets from Utility Service. At the time, the group declined to divulge the information.

“It’s not purely a financial consideration,” a spokesman told Sauk Valley Media. “They have a good track record as a company.”

Under Utility Service’s plan, the property owner can purchase a monthly plan to protect against one-time costly repairs. The monthly cost for water line coverage is $5.75 and sewer line coverage is $7.75, according to a presentation to the City Council earlier this year.

A third option in the plan would cover in-home plumbing repairs as well. She said that monthly cost would be $9.99. The fees are paid by the property owner directly to Utility Service.

The insurance would cover up to $8,500 per water line or sewer line repair. The in-home insurance would cover up to $3,000 per repair.

Utility Service Partners offers this protection plan to residents in more than 500 U.S. cities.