City of Battle Ground enters marketing agreement with utility warranty company


The City of Battle Ground is now in a marketing agreement with a utility warranty provider to help cover water and sewer line breaks, something which is not always included in homeowners insurance policies.

During its April 3 meeting, the Battle Ground City Council voted 4-2 to approve the agreement with Utility Service Partners (USP), which allows the company to use the city’s name and logo on marketing materials.

USP offers warranties for water and sewer lines. It covers leaking, clogged or broken lines from the point of connection to the public utility system to the home’s exterior, Battle Ground Deputy City Manager Robert Ferrier explained to the council. The company also offers a warranty on interior plumbing and drainage. 

“In many instances, a homeowners insurance policy does not provide coverage for damage to water and sewer lines located on a homeowner’s property,” a city staff report stated.

The company’s warranty program is endorsed by the National League of Cities, which is currently available in more than 1,100 cities in North America, seven of which are in Washington state, Ferrier said.

Participation in the warranty program is voluntary and having a separate homeowner’s policy doesn’t affect their ability to participate, Ferrier said.

The agreement doesn’t cost the city anything nor require the city to do anything other than review the marketing materials, Ferrier said. Homeowners with any issues covered in the policy will contact USP directly.

Though taking part isn’t a full endorsement of USP, the agreement could help promote livability, one of the city’s “guiding principles” adopted in 2019, Ferrier said.

The city had heard a prior proposal for the agreement right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Mayor Philip Johnson said. 

Johnson had an experience with the issue the warranty would address. He recalled a time when a water line on his property broke while he was on vacation.

“Normally, I would dig it down and fix it myself (for) a couple $10, $20. I’m not in town, so the plumber was $575,” Johnson said. “It would have saved me a tad of money.”

Councilor Adrian Cortes said residents often think the city will fix a water or sewer line break on their property, which isn’t always the case. Based on where the issue occurs, the homeowner may be on the hook for the repair.

“At the end of the day, when a citizen does experience a water main break or a sewer break, sometimes it’s hard for them to understand that the city is not going to pick up that bill,” Cortes said.

Not all of the councilors were on board with having the city logo in USP’s materials. 

Councilor Tricia Davis said she was uncomfortable having the logo used in marketing for a private company.

“Are we in the marketing business? … We don’t get anything from it, but it does send out possibly a misunderstanding by the public because our logo is on it,” Davis said.

Davis reasoned that such an agreement could go out for a public bid process, noting only seven cities in the state work with USP. There are 281 cities and towns in the state.

Councilor Shauna Walters noted the coverage only went up to $8,500 per repair for water and sewer warranties and $3,000 per repair for the interior plumbing and drainage warranty. The premiums are $5.99 a month for water coverage, $7.99 a month for sewer line coverage and $9.49 per month for interior plumbing and drainage.

“To me, it seems like they’re paying a lot more than they’re going to get in return,” Walters said. “I guess that’s a gamble people take with insurance, but it seems like kind of a big gamble to me.”