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  • Writer's pictureJoyce Insurance

Call 811 Before Digging

The spade, pickax, shovel, and mattock are out, and you're ready to plant a small flower bed or install a sprinkler system. Maybe you've even hired a contractor to build a new fence.

Not so fast! Before you start digging, it's crucial to call 811.

Why Call 811?

Electric, water, sewer, gas, cable TV, fiber optic, and other utilities may be buried underground in your yard. If you dig without calling 811, you can unintentionally sever an electric line, throwing the entire neighborhood into darkness and harming yourself and others around you. As a result, you may have to pay heavy fines and repair the damage out of your own pocket.

What is 811?

811 is the Federal Communications Commission designated "Call Before You Dig" number. A national number, 811 is the same for every state, eliminating the confusion with multiple numbers and making it easy to remember and use.

What happens after calling 811?

Calls to 811 are routed to the local One Call Center. A representative will take down information such as what type of project you're working on and where you plan to dig and notify utility companies with facilities in your area.

Crews from the utility companies will then visit your home to mark any underground line present in the dig site with spray paint or flags, letting you know exactly where to dig and areas to avoid.

In New York, you are required to contact the New York 811 at least two full days before digging. The two days do not include the day you call. Users of ITIC, a real-time, web-based ticket-entry system, can also make a request online.

Which digging projects require calling 811?

Yes, you have to call 811 for every digging. Underground utility lines could be anywhere, with some just a few inches deep. So even the smallest project could result in a damaged utility, resulting in dangerous and costly consequences.

If you don't want the entire yard marked, you can use white paint or white flags to mark out the dig area.

Do I have to pay to contact 811?

No, you don't. It's a completely free service. Instead, It may save you money. By contacting 811, you'll prevent liability claims, injuries, and expensive repairs that are bound to result when you damage a utility line.

How do I identify a marked utility?

The color of the flags or paints in your yard is significant, enabling you to identify the underground utility in your dig site.

  • Red – Electric

  • Orange – Communications, telephone, and cable TV

  • Blue – Potable water

  • Green – Sewer/drainage

  • Yellow – Gas/petroleum pipeline

  • Purple – Reclaimed water

  • Pink - Survey markings

  • White – Site of intended excavation

Does homeowners insurance cover underground utility lines?

Standard homeowners' insurance plans do not provide coverage for underground utility lines. So if you damage a buried utility line, you may have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars out of your own pocket.

However, you can purchase a service line plan. It is an add-on policy that protects you and covers the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged underground lines, fines, medical costs if there are injuries, and other associated costs.

Other insurance considerations to make

If you're digging for a home improvement project, you should speak with your insurance agent. The home improvement project will likely add to the value of your home. So you want to ensure your homeowners' insurance covers the new addition.

Need more information on how the service line plan works or want to buy or update your homeowners' insurance coverage? Call us now.



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