Home insurance and power outages: What’s covered?

Tue Jul 18 2023

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

When it comes to homeowners insurance and power outages, coverage usually depends on your policy terms and the circumstances of the power outage.

In most cases, coverage for a power outage is based on the cause and location. For example, if a power outage is caused by a covered peril, like a fallen tree or lightning strike, and that peril happens on your property, then your damage may be covered.

But let’s say a lightning strike at your local utility company causes a blackout over a wide area that includes your house. The source of the power outage isn’t 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?

Home insurance often covers the cost of food spoiled by a power outage if the power outage was caused by a covered peril. For instance, say a tree on your property knocks out your power lines. You might be compensated for the items in your refrigerator that go bad in this situation. 

However, your claim may be denied if your food spoiled after a power outage caused by:

  • Planned rolling brownouts.

  • Your service is being cut off for nonpayment.

  • A failure of the electrical grid.

  • Excluded events, such as earthquakes, floods, 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. But your insurer might not be your only option. Your power company may reimburse you for your spoiled food, so you might want to contact its customer service department.

Does home insurance cover hotel stays during power outages?

A power outage rarely makes a home unlivable, so it seldom triggers your homeowners' policy’s loss of use coverage. Also called Coverage D, loss of use coverage pays for additional costs above your normal additional living expenses when your home is made uninhabitable by a covered peril. While a power outage may make your home less comfortable, it’s usually considered habitable during a blackout. 

Are electronics covered when damaged by a power outage or power surge?

As with some of our other examples, you may be able to file an insurance claim for your electronics if they’re damaged by an artificially generated electrical current, or power surge 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?

Pipes damaged as the result of a power outage (including frozen lines) are often covered by home insurance as long as the property isn’t vacant or unoccupied.

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.


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