Power Outages And Spoiled Food: What To Know About Insurance Coverage
With the repeated power outages in California this year as a result of power companies trying to prevent transmission lines and equipment from sparking fires, the loss of refrigerated and frozen food has become a very real problem. This is an issue both for markets and for homes where people might not have a lot of money to keep buying more and more perishable food as replacements for spoiled food. Those with homeowners or renters insurance are lucky to an extent because their policies may cover the loss of food. However, coverage depends on the cause of the power outage and the range of homes affected.
Covered Perils and Your Food
The first issue to look at when you have lost food as a result of a power outage is what the cause of the outage was. If the cause of the outage is something that would be covered by your insurance (called a "peril"), then your food is likely covered, too, at least up to a certain amount. If you have luxury foods that cost you hundreds of dollars (e.g., you sprang for rare caviar), you're likely not going to get all that money back. But you could get a few hundred dollars' of food covered.
For example, a winter storm knocks out power and causes damage to your property. If your insurance will pay to repair the damage from the storm, there's a good chance it will pay to replace at least part of your spoiled food. But, if the outage was from you messing around with your home's electrical wiring, for example, in an ill-advised DIY project, you may be out of luck because your insurance might not cover that mishap.
It's Not You, It's Them, aka the Rest of the Neighborhood
Occasionally, the food coverage goes into effect only if the power outage affected more than just your home. So, if your neighbors had a problem, too, then your policy might cover it. This type of restricted coverage is a good example of why you should call your agent now to discuss the specifics of how to get lost food covered before you have reason to file a claim.
Extra Coverage and Lower Deductibles
Depending on your coverage, you may be able to purchase extended coverage to pay for more food in the event of an outage. Your agent will have more information. Also ask about how your deductible applies in the case of spoiled food due to a power outage because those deductibles could be lower than your regular one -- or they could be the same, in which case you should think about adjusting your coverage.
With luck, any outage you experience will be short and not last long enough to make the refrigerator too warm to save your food. Call an insurance agent to learn more about homeowners insurance and to discuss what to do about losses during a power outage.