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Homeowners insurance coverage for power outages and surges depends on a few factors, the largest of which is the source of the damage. It’s important to note that an outage and a surge are two different things, although they can result from the same event.

Power surges and outages and the damage they do are both covered by homeowners insurance in the right circumstances. The most common exclusion for this type of damage is when the source is off of the premises, such as when the power company causes it.

Damage to electronics and appliances from a power issue is covered by the personal property section of your policy, while damage to the structure of your house falls under dwelling coverage.

Key Takeaways

  • Home insurance generally covers damage from powers surges and outages, but there are exclusions.
  • Power outages may not be covered if the source is off premises or the fault of the power company.
  • Damage to electronics and food spoilage are among the items homeowners will pay for in a covered power surge or outage.

What is a power surge and how does it work with homeowners insurance?

A power surge is an excess of voltage over a short period. A power spike can occur in electrical devices, like refrigerators and air conditioners.

Power surges are common during storms, when the power comes back on after an outage. Power surges have been known to cause fires and can damage electronic devices like computers, televisions and cell phones.

Power surges are also caused by electrical system repairs or lightning strikes.

It may only take a few seconds for an appliance to be damaged by a surge. When there’s damage, it’s usually caused by one of three things:

  • Overheating
  • Electrical arcs or sparks
  • Mechanical distortion of the device

What does homeowner insurance cover damage when a power surge or outage happens?

Home insurance generally covers damage caused by a power surge.

Electronics can be seriously damage by a power surge, and your home insurance may cover repair or replacement under the personal property portion of the policy, as long as the source of the power surge is a covered peril.

An extended power outage can result in food spoilage, and standard insurance policies cover this up to a limit of $500.

Other damage, either to the structure of the home or to personal property, may also be covered depending on your policy and what caused the surge or outage. Check your policy for special limits on personal property like computer equipment.

What electrical equipment damage is covered by home insurance?

Homeowners insurance typically covers the cost to replace an electrical appliance or electronic device because of a power surge. A power surge is caused by something other than your normal electricity supply.

Appliances covered under home insurance due to power surge usually include:

  • Cameras
  • Televisions
  • Computers
  • Telephones

Some policies also cover electric heating units (including central heat).



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What is not covered by home insurance due to a power surge?

Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover a breakdown due to normal electrical usage. Normal wear and tear isn’t covered in a home insurance policy. Instead, the homeowner is expected to keep up with regular maintenance.

Many policies exclude power outages when the source of the outage is off the premises. If the power company was responsible for a damaging outage or surge, you may be able to file a claim there.

Most policies also will have a limit on the dollar amount per claim and a total lifetime limit. Check with your agent or company for details about the specific coverage they provide.

Most policies will pay for major appliances, electronics and other electrical devices up to a certain limit if they break down because of an electrical surge. Here’s a list of what’s typically not covered:

  1. Water damage from a leaking hot water heater, pipe or plumbing damaged by a power surge.
  2. Electrical malfunctions or damages caused by intentional acts like vandalism.
  3. Medical expenses.
  4. Breakdown of home appliances other than those mentioned above.
  5. A replacement item if your home insurance policy limit is exhausted.
  6. Costs for removal and clean up from mold, bacteria or fungi, which grew because of the outage.

How to make a power surge damage claim

Here’s how to make a power surge insurance claim:

  • Notify your insurance company within days of the event happening.
  • Make a list of damaged or broken items and their value.
  • Show receipts for loss (or estimate).
  • Take photos of damage.
  • Get estimates from repair professionals.
  • Keep receipts showing you bought the items or estimate.

An adjuster will inspect the damage. The insurer may ask you to pay for repairs upfront before making a claim.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do after a power surge?

After a power surge, check electronics for any signs of damage. If anything is damaged, contact your insurance company right away to find out if it’s covered.

How can I protect electronics from power surges?

You can protect your expensive electronics with surge protectors. It’s also a good idea to unplug electronics when an electrical storm is approaching or if you will be out of town for an extended period.

If the pipes freeze, turn off the water. Shutting off the water quickly helps prevent the pipes from bursting.

Experts also recommend installing an emergency release valve, which protects the plumbing from the pressure caused by frozen pipes.

Wifi water leak and freeze detectors can work as an app or sent alerts via email if it senses issues.

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Les Masterson


Les, a former managing editor, insurance, at QuinStreet, has more than 20 years of experience in journalism. In his career, he has covered everything from health insurance to presidential politics.