You're not alone if you're in the dark about home insurance
coverage for power outages.
The issue sparks lots of questions, and the answers are all over
the grid, depending on your insurance company, your
home insurance policy
and the state you live in.
Coverage also varies depending on the damage you suffer and the
cause of the outage. Here's how insurance generally applies in the
Lightning strikes your home and fries your
Standard home insurance typically covers damage from lightning,
and some home insurance policies cover electronics damaged by
power surges that are the result of lightning strikes, according
to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Some home insurance
policies also cover damage due to other power surges. Keep in
mind there may be a limit on the payment per damaged item.
You opt for a hotel room.
Home insurance pays for the costs of temporarily relocating if
your home is damaged by a "covered loss," such as a fire, and is
uninhabitable while repairs are made. Generally a standard policy
will not pay for a hotel stay simply because the power was out.
Although your home might
uninhabitable without air conditioning during an August heat
wave, it technically is livable. The same goes for the winter
when temperatures drop and the heat goes out. For more on what
your insurance covers if you truly are forced to leave your home,
Champagne and Jacuzzi lifestyle? Oh yeah, you can
Water water everywhere.
If a power outage causes your pipes to freeze and burst, then
home insurance would come to the rescue. However, if you
purposely left your home without power and the pipes burst as a
result, then you probably would have trouble getting your claim
paid. Keeping your home heated is part of your responsibility to
maintain the property.
Food spoils when the fridge is off.
Standard home insurance policies typically cover food spoilage if
the power was out due to some other covered loss -- such as a
fallen tree that damaged your house and knocked out electricity.
But some insurance companies offer coverage for food spoilage
from any type of power outage. This coverage sometimes is
included in the policies or offered as an endorsement, which is a
policy add-on you can purchase by paying a higher premium. The
deductible for food spoilage is sometimes waived or lower than
the deductible for other damage. For more information on spoiled
The Boston Globe
's report on
food safety following power outages
Your best bet for deciphering coverage for power outages is to
contact your insurance company or agent. In addition, do what you
can to prevent disasters that could result from outages. Invest in
surge protectors to safeguard electronics and figure out how to
turn off the water, in case the pipes freeze. Shutting off the
water quickly helps prevent the pipes from bursting. The III also
recommends installing an emergency release valve, which protects
the plumbing from the pressure caused by frozen pipes.