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Will your home insurance cover damages from a power outage?
A power outage -- whether triggered by lightning, a storm rolling or some other cause -- can suddenly make homeowners realize how vital electricity is. The outage can not only leave homeowners in the dark, but can damage computer equipment, TVs and other electronic equipment.
Most homeowner's insurance policies cover losses from power interruptions caused by lightning, windstorms and other such weather, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Roughly one-third of power outages are caused by lightning. The National Lightning Safety Institute reports that 3 percent to 4 percent of insurance claims are filed as a result of lightning. For homeowners, lightning was responsible for nearly $800 million in insured losses in 2009, with the average homeowner's claim totaling $4,296, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
The most common homeowner's policy in the United States -- called Homeowners-3, or HO-3 -- provides broad coverage for disasters, or “perils,” such as lightning or tornadoes. The Insurance Information Institute recommends checking the dollar limits of insurance with your agent and making sure you’re comfortable with the amount of coverage for specific items.
Power outages and spoiled food
Food spoilage from a loss of power affecting a refrigerator or freezer isn’t regularly covered by homeowner's insurance policies, although sometimes power companies will reimburse customers for such losses.
Even if food spoilage is covered, it may not be worth paying the deductible. You'd have to have, say, $500 to $1,000 in spoiled food in the refrigerator for the deductible to pay off.
Coverage for spoiled food generally arises from an "on premises" power interruption, such as wind knocking down a tree onto your power meter. If power went out because of an "off premises" interruption and knocked out power to the entire block, for example, it's generally not covered by homeowner's insurance.
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