FARMINGTON — Farmington City Council on Tuesday authorized an agreement between the city and an insurance company to provide discounted water and sewer line coverage to customers.

The insurance is optional. Customers of the city's water and sewer services who enroll can be covered for water and sewer line maintenance. No similar city service exists, Public Works Director David Sypher said.

Service Line Warrantee of America, Inc. provides the insurance. The company, based in Canonsburg, Penn., is endorsed by the National League of Cities, an organization dedicated to improving cities. The group includes more than 2,000 member cities.

Service Line Warrantee of America offered the insurance to the city of Milwaukee, Wis., and about 10 percent of the city's utility customers bought the insurance, said Gregory Minchak, a spokesman for the league.

"We've seen some great pick up," he said.

Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes encouraged council to "seriously consider" the insurance program.

"There's really no down side for our customers who have old pipes," Mayes said.

Property owners are responsible for sections of their home's water and sewer lines. Usually when a line clogs or collapses, property owners must repair the sections of water line on their property and the sections of sewer line that extend to the street.

Property owners must hire a contractor to fix or replace their sections of water and sewer lines, if they are damaged. Sypher said replacing water lines often costs $2,000 and sewer lines can cost about $4,000.

Water and sewer lines typically begin failing after about 40 to 50 years, and the city has many older subdivision, Sypher said. Failures happen occasionally, and property owners need to know the ages of their homes, he said.

With the insurance, Service Line Warrantee of America chooses local contractors to repair and maintain customers' lines. The company's insurance covers up to $4,000 per repair. There is an additional $4,000 allocated for line repairs involving streets or sidewalks.

Monthly insurance rates will cost $5.25 for water line and $7.25 for sewer line coverage, Sypher said.

Ten percent of the company's earnings from Farmington customers will return to the city, said Brian Davis, a representative of the company.

The city's water and sewer customers can sign for the insurance at a 10 percent discount from the company's standard rates, according to city documents.

The agreement is for three years, and the company will advertise the service twice in the spring and twice in the fall, according to city documents.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.