Tonawanda News

January 10, 2013

Insurance letter misleading to NT residents

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — An advertisement mailed out to residents across North Tonawanda has officials worried about its wording. 

For weeks, American Water Resources, an insurance company out of New Jersey, has flooded the city with letters that imply it has links to the municipality, while efforts by the city to halt the solicitations have thus far been unsuccessful. 

Clerk-Treasurer Scott Kiedrowski said those who have been getting a weekly mailing from the company may be misled into buying insurance for water and sewer lines, with the gist of the sales pitch centered on the fact that the city does not pay to attach the main lines to city homes.   

“It’s basically a solicitations letter to residents of North Tonawanda informing them that they’re responsible to take care of water and sewer lines to their houses,” he said. “Most residents do that already and the way the letter is worded it certainly leads one to believe that the City of North Tonawanda is somehow tied to this. We absolutely, unequivocally have no involvement in this.” 

Kiedrowski said he first became aware of it when he received the same letter from the company in early December and made attempts to contact the company via e-mail to stop the sales pitches. It didn’t work, with a non-response from company vice president, Barbara Bayarsky. 

Attempts made by the Tonawanda News on Wednesday to reach Boyarsky by phone were also unsuccessful. 

Kiedrowski said a second round of letters were then sent about by the company during the last week, while he has particular concerns about senior citizens “being duped by something like this and spending money when they don’t

need to.” 

“It’s already covered by most homeowners’ insurance policies,” he said. “Before anyone moves on the solicitation they need to consult with a family member and an insurance provider.” 

Consultations with the city’s legal department revealed there’s little that can be done, though Kiedrowski said most residents will realize the misleading nature of the wording. 

“Generally ... most people, they’ll throw them in the garbage,” he said, while recalling a similar mailer several years ago that used the North Tonawanda seal as part of its advertisement.  

Kiedrowski said companies such as American Water Resources often procure names and addresses through board of elections website or by paying other private entities for local demographics. 

“People may think, ‘what’s North Tonawanda doing now?’” he said. “I think most people will probably figure it out, but I still wanted to get the word out.” 

Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.