Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Power Outages?

Power outages can cause damage to your home and personal belongings. Any part of your structure or personal property impacted by a power outage may be eligible for coverage under your homeowners insurance policy.

Losing electrical power in your home for a short time may be an inconvenience, but as the power outage drags on, your home begins to sustain severe damages that may be hazardous. Fortunately, if you carry homeowners insurance, some of your expenses may be covered.

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Two of the most common damages from power outages are frozen pipes and spoiled food.

Frozen Pipes

Prolonged winter power outages do more than leave you shivering. They put your pipes at risk of freezing. Frozen pipes then burst, causing water to stream into your home, potentially causing thousands of dollars of damage in minutes. 

Unfortunately for homeowners in colder climates, your pipes can freeze in a short time after the heat fails. For example, the chances of pipes freezing grow very high if the outside temperature is below 20 degrees for six or more consecutive hours. However, those in warmer regions can still suffer frozen pipes after a heating failure, especially because builders are less likely to install insulation around pipes in Southern states. 

While most pipe burst claims receive approval, there are some notable exceptions. For instance, very old pipes that were in disrepair could cause the insurance company to deny the claim on the basis that the pipe failure was due to age, a maintenance issue, rather than because of the heating that had stopped.

Negligence by the homeowner could also cause a claim denial. For example, if you cut off power to the home for long periods while not present. 

Ruined Food

Refrigeration may be a huge asset to modern homeowners, but when the power fails, food can spoil quickly, leaving you out hundreds of dollars in perishable groceries. In warmer months, when power outages may be longer due to high electricity demand during heat waves, food can spoil in hours.

Homeowners policies usually reimburse policyholders for food losses due to a power outage. Many companies make this benefit part of standard homeowners coverage, so no special riders are needed. However, you should review your policy carefully because some companies require you to elect spoiled food and power outage coverage as an add-on at an extra premium.  

Before filing a claim, it’s important to assess whether the value of the spoiled food is high enough to make a claim worthwhile. First off, you must consider how much you can collect in view of your deductible. Second, a claim will likely cause your premiums to rise. Therefore, filing a claim usually makes sense only if the spoiled food’s replacement value is extremely high or part of a more significant issue. 

In addition, some insurance policies cap ruined food losses at $250 or $500. Therefore, unless you have other damages to include in the claim, a ruined food benefit may be below your deductible.

Power outages for a few minutes may cause nothing more than a little inconvenience. But when they stretch on for hours or days, severe damage can result to your home or property. When this occurs, such as frozen pipes or spoiled food, you are entitled to compensation from your homeowners insurance company. However, before filing a claim, make sure the amount of the loss is over your deductible and worthwhile if your premiums go up as a result.

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