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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / The new HomeServe USA facility is seen after a ribbon cutting on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn. The new facility serves as the operations center for their entire slate of customer services.

CORRECTION: This story was corrected on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, to state that HomeServe USA is based in Norwalk, Connecticut, not Norfolk, Virginia. This story was also changed to correct HomeServe company spokesman's first name from Miles to Myles.

HomeServe USA, which has grown its operations center in Chattanooga to nearly 500 employees over the past decade, is buying a Chattanooga-based company that offers insurance protection against water leaks in partnership with 144 rural water utilities across the country.

HomeServe USA, a Norwalk, Connecticut-based marketer of home repairs to over 4 million customers, said Monday it will buy Sunbelt Group's ServLine business division to expand its water and sewer service line protection services. Once the merger is completed by the end of the year, HomeServe plans to maintain the existing 12 employees of ServLine and likely keep its separate office on Lee Parkway Drive, company spokesman Myles Meehan said.

ServLine, which was founded in 2014 by by Mark Slater and Gary Harstine, works with rural water utilities in 18 states through an exclusive affinity partnership with the National Rural Water Association. The business offers insurance protection for water leaks to participating utilities, which can help cover high water bill costs that result from leaking water pipes on a homeowner's property, as well as a water and sewer service line protection program.

For $1 to $2 a month through the ServLine leak adjustment program, utilities can offer their customers insurance against a high water bill caused by a leaking pipe or fixture. The plans also benefit the utility who are protected against having to write off the cost of lost water.

Utilities participating in the ServLine programs currently have 27,000 customer homes under the water and sewer line protection program and 465,000 homeowner connections covered under the leak adjustment program.

some text Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / HomeServe North America Chief Executive Officer John Kitzie speaks during a ribbon cutting for their new facility on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"ServLine's unique business model will enhance what HomeServe can offer to our 700 municipal and utility water partners and their customers," John Kitzie, chief executive of HomeServe USA, said in an announcement of the merger. "The acquisition strengthens HomeServe's position in the market as the leading provider of home repair solutions."

Terms of the sale between the privately owned companies were not disclosed, but Slater said he is excited to be joining a company "long been recognized as the leader in providing repair plans to cover common home emergencies.

"Our specialized offering – covering high water bills associated with leaking pipes – coupled with the many customizable plans HomeServe already offers means homeowners across the country will have even more ways to be prepared for a home emergency," Slater said.

HomeServe started its call center in Chattanooga in 2010 with 35 employees and has expanded to include nearly 500 workers at the $5.5 million facility it opened on Lee Highway last year.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340

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