Watch CBS News

Did you get an offer from Xcel for additional water, gas, or electric line protection on your home? Here's what experts say you should know before you buy it.

Experts discuss additional warranty coverage and if Coloradans need it
Experts discuss additional warranty coverage and if Coloradans need it 02:37

If you're a homeowner and Xcel Energy customer in the Denver metro area, you may have received a letter in the mail last week from the utility service advertising special protection for your water, gas, and power lines. The letter asks you to respond in 30 days, and says the additional coverage can help you "protect your finances."

CBS News Colorado wanted to know – what is the protection offering and is it really necessary? So, we reached out to experts to break it down, so you can decide what's best for your home, and pocketbook. 

Carole Walker, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association, says the letters are offering a warranty type coverage for the gas, water, and power lines on your property, and you should check with your insurance agent to make sure of what your homeowner's insurance policy already covers before buying. 

She says the exterior water lines aren't always included in a typical policy, so a warranty could be helpful if you want to avoid a surprise bill in the event of any damages. But, in general, when your home suffers damages, those items are covered under a typical insurance policy a homeowner might already have. 


"You just have to weigh your household budget, whether you just want to have an extra peace of mind to have a warranty if there was any kind of damage to that line," Walker said. "Water damage can be tricky when it comes to homeowners' insurance, is it inside your property line, is it exterior of your property line, and then what caused that damage? Is it a broken washing machine hose, a frozen burst pipe, those are the types of things that would be covered under your homeowner's insurance."

Another example, she says, is if a natural gas line leaks and causes a fire or explosion, that would also likely be covered under a homeowner's insurance policy, but the letters from Xcel are offering more of a warranty in case the lines are repaired and need repairs. 

"For example, I don't purchase my car warranty anymore either, I have an older vehicle... so, I might just decide to buy a whole new car," Walker said. "The same with an appliance, you might just decide to buy a new dishwasher."

No matter what, she advises all homeowners to check in with their agent this time of year to make sure they'll be properly covered in the event of floods, hail, or anything else. 

"I think that insurance is something that we all kind of procrastinate, but this time of year it's good to do an annual spring cleaning on your insurance policy," Walker said. "Make sure you know what it covers, what it doesn't, what the deductibles are, what the limits are, and really be prepared for what mother nature has to hand out."

It's important to remember that while Xcel provides a public utility service, it is a for-profit company. For these protection plans, Xcel says it's partnering with another private company called HomeServe to administer them. 

When we asked Xcel what percentage of profits it receives from the sales of these plans, Xcel said: "the financial terms of the agreement are confidential."

We found hundreds of complaints against HomeServe on the Better Business Bureau website, but HomeServe says, it serves "5 million customers and over 1,800 jobs completed every day, any business would tell you that, from time to time, there's a job that doesn't go exactly as planned, hence some negative reviews... but... we have an A rating with the Better Business Bureau... and when jobs don't go as planned, HomeServe always tries to make it right."


A spokesperson for HomeServe added, "we are a customer-focused company that takes great pride in providing exceptional service through a trusted network of locally vetted, certified contractors. We work with 71 leading contractors throughout Colorado to complete our customers' home emergency repair needs."

HomeServe also emphasized that the protection plans are completely optional. 

"If a homeowner doesn't think they need one or would benefit from one, they simply don't have to purchase one," the HomeServe spokesperson said in an interview with CBS News Colorado. 

Xcel declined an interview, but tells us in a written statement "as our customers' trusted energy provider, the letter is meant to explain the protection plan's value to customers – to minimize unexpected repairs on the customer side of the electric and natural gas meters."

Xcel also added, "HomeServe is the leading nationwide provider of home repair service plans and engages with over 1,250 municipal and utility providers in dozens of states. We sold our HomeSmart service business to HomeServe because they have an excellent track record of customer service and will offer our customers a greater variety of product offerings to fit their needs. These are legitimate, co-branded mailers from both Xcel Energy and HomeServe. They are approved by Xcel Energy and are meant to introduce HomeServe as the service plan administrator and additional service offerings to our customers."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.