Residential natural gas lines are a necessary evil. These underground pipelines provide fuel for a variety of home appliances, including stoves, ovens and water heaters. In some geographical areas, they may even supply fuel for residential heating systems. Thanks to rising oil prices and the perceived efficiency of gas-burning appliances, these lines are becoming increasingly common across wide swathes of the United States.
Unfortunately, natural gas lines come with significant drawbacks. While it's true that natural gas burns more efficiently and cleanly than oil or coal, it's a volatile gas that can cause fires and explosions with relative ease. Ruptured natural gas lines are a major cause of home fires. In fact, using natural gas to heat your home can cause your homeowner's insurance premiums to rise significantly. Since natural gas is much cheaper than oil or coal, this isn't likely to affect your household's budget.
Most natural gas lines function for decades without requiring major repairs. Since natural gas isn't as corrosive as water or as viscous as oil, it doesn't wear down the pipes that carry it as quickly as those substances. As such, it's unlikely that your home's natural gas line will rupture spontaneously. However, it's painfully easy to cause your line to rupture by other means. If you're digging a hole in your yard and unwittingly stray too close to your buried natural gas line, you may sever it with your shovel before you realize what you've done.
Of course, a ruptured natural gas line is a serious safety hazard that must be repaired as quickly as possible. After turning off your home's gas, you'll need to talk to your homeowner's insurance provider to determine whether your policy covers the cost of repairing or replacing your gas line. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that your standard homeowner's policy would cover such an expense.
If a contractor broke the line while excavating your yard or working on another buried pipe, your policy may cover the cost of its replacement. Likewise, a rupture created by your gas utility is likely to warrant coverage. In most other situations, you'll be asked to pay for the repairs out of your own pocket.
To help offset the cost of any potential repairs to your line, your utility company may offer "gas line insurance" or some other form of coverage. These plans typically cost between $6 and $10 per month. In most cases, your gas line insurance plan will cover the full cost repairing or replacing your pipeline.