Damage Caused by Power Outages: Are You Covered?

Winter months can be stressful for homeowners for many reasons.  High heating costs and worries about ice damage are generally at the top of the list.  But, another problem that often occurs during cold weather is power outages.  So, before an outage strikes your home, you need to know what to expect when it comes to power outage coverage provided by your homeowners insurance policy.

In most cases, outages are short-lived, lasting only a few hours so they don’t typically cause any damage to the home.  However, a long-lasting outage can be more than just an inconvenience.  

Did you know that most people don’t think about electricity unless it’s time to pay the bill or when running high-demand appliances?  As a result, they are often caught off guard when a power outage occurs.

Before the weather gets colder, review your insurance policy to learn about what is covered if a power outage causes damage to your home.  

In the meantime, here are some FAQs you may find useful:

Is food that spoiled due to a power outage covered?

Your homeowners insurance may cover the cost of food spoiled due to a power outage if the outage was caused by a covered peril.  For example, you may be compensated for food in your refrigerator that goes bad if a tree falls on your power lines and knocks out your power.

Your claim for spoiled food may be denied if the power outage was caused by any of the following:

  • Your power was cut due to nonpayment.
  • Electrical grid failure.
  • Planned rolling blackouts.
  • Excluded perils such as floods, earthquakes, or normal wear and tear.
  • Poorly installed or malfunctioning equipment.

In some of the cases above, the power company may reimburse you for spoiled food.  Otherwise, your insurance company typically limits the amount they pay for spoiled food to about $500.  Also, you may be responsible for a deductible.  

If my prescription drugs spoil due to a lack of refrigeration, are they covered?

As some medications must be refrigerated or frozen, your homeowner policy may provide limited coverage for prescription drugs that have spoiled due to a power outage.

Does homeowners insurance cover appliances damaged by a power surge?

Your homeowner insurance may cover damaged appliances, however, the coverage is limited.  The damage from a power loss caused by off-premises electrical equipment.  The damage is covered only if directly caused by a lightning strike or power surge.  You may want to consider the amount of deductible you’ll have to pay if you file a claim.

If my electronics are damaged by a power surge or outage, are they covered?

You may be able to file a claim for damaged electronics if the damage was caused by a covered peril.  For instance, if lightning causes a power surge that results in a blackout, it can damage televisions, computers, or other electronics.  Since lightning strikes are a covered peril, you may be able to repair or replace the electronics.

Do frozen pipes resulting from a power outage qualify for coverage?

If your power goes out, it can cause your pipes to freeze, crack, and burst.  In some cases, cracked or burst pipes cause extensive damage to the home.  Damaged pipes resulting from a power outage may be covered by homeowners insurance if the property isn’t vacant or unoccupied.  

If my home is unfit to live in during the outage, are hotel costs covered?

Generally, power outages do not make a home unlivable, therefore the Loss of Use coverage or Additional Living Expense coverage doesn’t kick in.  The Loss of Use coverage, also known as Coverage D, only pays for additional living expenses if your home is uninhabitable after a covered peril.  Although power outages can make your home extremely uncomfortable, it is still considered habitable.

Will I be reimbursed if I buy a generator in anticipation of a power outage?

Homeowner insurance doesn’t generally pay for generators, even if you purchase one to prevent food spoilage or to keep your pipes from freezing.

What You Can Do to Prepare for Power Outages

Power outages often occur at the worst time, and cannot always be predicted.  But, there are ways you can prepare so you aren’t caught off guard and end up scrambling for things you need.  Here are a few suggestions that can help you and your family get through the outage without too much inconvenience:

  1. Disaster kit:  Put together an emergency preparedness kit that includes batteries, flashlights, first aid supplies, an emergency radio, and cash.
  2. Alternative charging methods:  Get a battery pack tol keep your phone charged.  You may also need solar-powered or hand-crank radios, flashlights, and cell phone chargers.
  3. Gas-powered generator:  A gas generator costs less to operate than you may think and will help keep your food fresh, operate medical equipment, and keep your family comfortable during a power outage.
  4. Stock up:  Be sure to have extra batteries, non-perishable foods, bottled water, and bags of ice if you know a storm is on the way.
  5. Fill your car’s gas tank:  If the power outage is widespread, you won’t be able to buy gas.  Since you may need your car to get you to safety, make sure the tank is full if you know bad weather is imminent.

Other things you can do to reduce the chance of problems during a power outage include:

  • Turning off all electrical outlets
  • Limiting the number of times you open the refrigerator
  • Using flashlights or lanterns instead of candles to reduce the risk of fire  

These are simple ways to ensure that you can provide some level of comfort during a power outage.

Learn More About Homeowners Insurance and Power Outage Coverage

The best source of information about homeowners insurance and power outage coverage is your insurance agent.  Sandifer Insurance Agency is always eager to help our clients understand their insurance policy’s terms and conditions, so don’t hesitate to call if you have questions.

Also, if you are shopping for homeowners insurance, reach out to us by phone, email, or online.  One of our representatives will be available to assist you in any way.  We have over 40 years of experience in helping customers get the best coverage at the most affordable rates.


goalzero.com/ – Consumer Power Report

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *