Home Insurance and Power Outages: What’s Covered?

Mon Jul 18 2022

Man in complete darkness holds a phone to investigate a home fuse box during a power outage

Does homeowners insurance cover power outages? Like most questions about insurance, the answer is not a straightforward yes or no. Instead, coverage usually depends on your policy terms and the circumstances of the power outage.

That may be less than reassuring to many homeowners this summer. Rather than staying in the dark about home insurance and power outages, let’s take a high-level look at what policies typically cover.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Power Outages?

Whether or not a home insurance policy covers a power outage usually depends on the cause and the location. For example, power outages that are located on your property and caused by events that are included under your policy, like windstorms or lightning strikes, are often covered.

But let’s say a lightning strike at your local utility company causes a blackout over a wide area that includes your house. In that case, the source of the power outage is not on your property, and that often means your home insurance doesn’t cover it.

The same is generally true of power outages caused by perils not covered by your home insurance, like flooding. If a flood causes a power outage, you may only have a claim if you carry flood insurance.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Spoiled Food from a Power Outage?

When a power outage is caused by a covered peril, you may have limited coverage for spoiled food. So if a tree on your property knocks out your power lines, you might be compensated for the items in your refrigerator that go bad. However, this isn’t true in other situations, such as a power outages caused by:

  • Planned rolling brownouts.
  • Your service being cut off for nonpayment.
  • A failure of the electrical grid.
  • Excluded events, such as earthquakes, flood, and normal wear and tear.
  • Malfunctioning or poorly installed equipment.

Most insurance companies limit the amount of coverage they offer for spoiled, usually to around $500, plus you may be responsible for a deductible. On the other hand, you may be able to get reimbursement for your spoiled food by contacting your power company.

Does Home Insurance Cover Hotel Stays During Power Outage?

A power outage seldom triggers your homeowners policy’s loss of use coverage. Also called Coverage D, loss of use coverage pays a portion of your additional living expenses when your home is made uninhabitable by a covered peril. This can include a hotel room so that you have a safe place to stay. While it may be uncomfortable, your home is usually considered habitable during a blackout.

Are Electronics Covered When Damaged by a Power Outage?

As with some of our other examples, you may be able to file an insurance claim for your electronics if they’re damaged by a power outage that’s caused by a covered peril. Imagine for instance, that a lightning strike causes a power surge that results in a blackout. Power surges can easily damage computers, televisions, and other plugged-in electronics, but you may be able to repair or replace them because lightning strikes are a covered peril.

Does Home Insurance Cover Frozen Pipes If My Power Goes Out?

Granted, we’re focusing on hot weather, but extreme temperatures in the winter can also cause power outages. When that happens, it’s not uncommon for your pipes to freeze. This can lead to your pipes bursting.

In many instances, the water damage that follows is often covered by home insurance. However, your claim may be denied if your pipes were in poor condition, either because of wear and tear or inadequate maintenance.

Having quality insurance and knowing what it covers is just the first step in protecting your home. The next is making sure you’re ready for the worst-case scenario – including preparing for power outages in your home.