EPCOR Teams Up with Questionable Scheme

EPCOR, the company that is building the controversial Heartland power line together with AltaLink and Quebec-based SNC-Lavalin, has teamed up with a questionable firm selling water and sewer line insurance (Edmonton Journal).

EPCOR is marketing a new kind if insurance never before available – insurance to repair or replace broken water and sewer lines that run on residents’ private property.  EPCOR has teamed up with HomeServe, a private UK-based company selling the water line insurance for $9.99/month. Sewer line insurance is another $15.99/month. EPCOR has received a fee from HomeServe to assist with marketing. Neither HomeServe nor EPCOR will disclose the fee EPCOR is being paid. The deal was not tendered, the financial details are confidential, and neither EPCOR nor HomeServe will say whether EPCOR also gets a cut of HomeServe’s sales.

The deal appears even more shady, as the Edmonton Journal’s research reveals. The fine print indicates there are many types of damage and repair that HomeServe’s insurance will not cover. And, if you have a problem with your water or sewer line, the fine print says HomeServe will ensure the repairs get done “as soon as practicable”. Wow…that’s reassuring, since most of us would probably consider damage to either our water or sewer line as an emergency. The Journal dug a little deeper and discovered through the Better Business Bureau that HomeServe has been investigated by 4 U.S. states for violating consumer protection laws, and the company paid a whopping 750,000 pound fine ($1,188,990 CAD) for breaking Britain’s phone soliciting laws. HomeServe is also under investigation for its sales practices by the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority.

In this letter to the Edmonton Journal, Bob Raynard explains the math behind HomeServe’s insurance scheme, and suggests the company is offering protection against something that will likely never happen.  The ex-engineer-superintendent of Edmonton’s water department, Phillip Walker, wrote this letter to the Edmonton Journal in which he says, “Epcor and HomeServe are laying a trip on homeowners by raising fears of big repair bills for a very unusual, very unlikely occurrence.” So one has to wonder why anyone would actually purchase this insurance?

In spite of HomeServe’s questionable history and the questionable value of their insurance coverage, EPCOR’s VP Jill Matthew is enthusiastic about their new business partner. Well, when profit is the primary goal, it’s probably possible to justify just about anything. Another partner of EPCOR’s – SNC-Lavalin – is currently in the midst of an international corruption investigation involving allegations of fraud, bribery and money laundering.

~ by RETA on November 19, 2012.

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