What to know before purchasing insurance from your utility company

January 4, 2018

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

If you've ever received a letter from First Energy suggesting you buy insurance to protect your electrical equipment, you may be wondering if and when you should accept. 
 
But is it worth the monthly fee they charge you, or just another way to get your cash?
 
21 News raised the question with the people pushing the product.
 
Electricity is a resource we depend on every day. Which may be one reason why First Energy and Ohio Edison sends out letters to homeowners suggesting they buy insurance to protect some of the equipment those homeowners are responsible for that is connected to their electric meter.
 
"While the company Ohio Edison repairs and maintains some parts of the exterior repairs and maintains some parts of the exterior equipment, the customer is actually responsible for maintaining the weather head, the service drop, the meter box, and the wiring that goes from the meter into their home," Diane Francis, a spokesperson for First Energy said. 
 
The electric company claims your homeowner's insurance won't cover the cost if any of the parts break to your exterior electrical lines.
 
Several insurance companies we spoke with agree, saying with insurance, deductibles often at $1,000 the cost of the repairs may never reach that much.
 
Consumer Attorney Thad Wexler tells 21 News the insurance is a way for utility companies to make extra money.
 
"Most people don't have issues with the utility boxes, but if they break, it's probably costly," Wexler said. "The few extra dollars can give homeowners peace of mind. Make sure if you buy it, it covers the most costly aspects of replacing the utility boxes."
 
First Energy says the insurance is through a company called HomeServe and currently it's a 12-month program added to your electric bill.  The promotional cost at this time is $2.99 a month.
 
Now we've received new information from an insurance agent who says she has always recommended that her clients purchase the insurance from the utility companies.
 
That insurance agent says most inspections reveal old, dated electric boxes and meters which can run in to thousands of dollars, sometimes up to $3,000.
 
When it comes to gas lines running to the street those are the homeowners responsibility and if the lines run under a sidewalk that incurs even more of an expense that could cost up to $4,000.

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