The City of Maryland Heights insures sewer laterals for homes within the city. The policy took effect Jan. 1, 2000. For more information, see the Q&A below, or call (314) 291-6550.
Do other cities offer sewer lateral insurance?
How much does this insurance cost?
Who pays to repair a damaged yard or pavement?
Is there a one-time repair for the homeowner or will the homeowner be covered for multiple breaks?
What is the process?
Will my homeowners' insurance pay for repairs?
Who is included in this program?
What are the health risks if my lateral breaks?
What is a sewer lateral?
Who owns the lateral?
How do I know if my sewer lateral breaks?
Would this cover a sewer break inside my house?
How much would I have to pay to replace a sewer lateral?
Can other city revenues fund this project?
How much do residents pay in other cities?
Q: Do other cities offer sewer lateral insurance?
A:
Yes. State law allows cities to establish sewer repair insurance funds, and more than 40 area cities have approved such programs, including St. Ann, Creve Coeur, Overland and unincorporated St. Louis County.
Q: How much does this insurance cost?
A:
A maximum annual charge of $28 has been set on all residential properties with six or fewer dwellings. This fee is collected annually by St. Louis County.
Q: Who pays to repair a damaged yard or pavement?
A:
The city will pay to replace grass, sidewalks and driveways. If a fence, shed, garage, etc. is in the lateral's path or lies over the damaged portion of the lateral, the city reserves the right to reroute the lateral or to require the structure to be moved at the owner's expense.
Q: Is there a one-time repair for the homeowner or will the homeowner be covered for multiple breaks?
A:
There is no clause limiting the number of repairs in our policy; however, one repair job typically ensures an intact line for several years.
Q: What is the process?
A:

Before the city's insurance policy will cover repairs, the homeowner needs to take a few steps to make sure the sewer lateral is indeed collapsed, rather than just clogged.

  1. Call a plumbing or sewer cleaning service and have them clean the sewer lateral pipe. The homeowner is responsible for the cost of this service call. If the cleaning solves the problem, the sewer lateral is fine. If it does not solve the problem, the homeowner should file a claim with the city.
  2. The city will review the claim and arrange for a contractor to videotape the inside of the pipe. This investigation will be used to ensure the line is collapsed.
  3. If the videotape shows damage, a city contractor will fix the line. The homeowner does not need to get bids for the repair.
  4. Expenses less than $10,000 will be paid for by the city. If the cost exceeds $10,000, the additional charges are shared equally by the city and the property owner.
Q: Will my homeowners' insurance pay for repairs?
A:
Probably not. Most policies do not cover lateral repair cost, which is generally considered a home maintenance expense.
Q: Who is included in this program?
A:

All Maryland Heights residences are included, except for apartments with seven or more dwellings in a single building, properties with septic tanks and properties that do not connect to MSD lines.

If you have any other questions, please call the Maryland Heights Government Center at (314) 291-6550.

Q: What are the health risks if my lateral breaks?
A:
Illnesses in raw sewage can enter the water table, creeks, streams and soil around your home. Bacteria such as E.coli, dipli-cocci, strep and staph, and hepatitis virus could be released.
Q: What is a sewer lateral?
A:
A sewer lateral is the pipe that carries household wastes to the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District's (MSD's) sewer main. The sewer lateral does not include a sewer line located under any part of the building.
Q: Who owns the lateral?
A:
The homeowner. It is private property, considered part of the house.
Q: How do I know if my sewer lateral breaks?
A:
Usually, sewage will back up into the home. Also, portions of your yard may collapse over the damaged section of the pipe, or sewage may leak into your yard.
Q: Would this cover a sewer break inside my house?
A:
No. The proposed plan would pay for breaks in the line between the outside of your home and the MSD sewer main.
Q: How much would I have to pay to replace a sewer lateral?
A:
Most lateral repairs cost at least $3,000, or more complicated repairs can exceed $10,000.
Q: Can other city revenues fund this project?
A:
No. State law prohibits city funds being used to pay for these repairs. Only this annual fee could pay for the sewer lateral repair program. Monies for storm water projects and parks cannot fund this project.
Q: How much do residents pay in other cities?
A:
It varies from city to city, but Maryland Heights has the best answer: nothing as long as the cost is less than $10,000. In most communities, the property owner is responsible for at least part of the repair cost. For instance, Creve Coeur residents pay 20 percent of repair costs. In St. Ann, residents are responsible for up to 40 percent of the costs.