If you lose electricity and it takes several hours or days for power to be restored, food in your refrigerator and freezer can spoil. Your homeowners insurance company may or may not compensate you for your loss, depending on the specific circumstances.
The Source of the Power Outage Is a Key Factor
If you lose power because of a covered peril, such as a storm, you will most likely be able to file a claim for spoiled food. If an earthquake or a flood causes you to lose power and you don’t have an insurance policy that covers that peril, you won’t be covered for food that you have to throw away.
Your insurance company won’t cover the cost of spoiled food if the power outage is your own fault. For example, if you cut down a tree and it lands on a power line and knocks out electricity, don’t expect your insurance company to reimburse you for spoiled food that you have to discard. The insurer also won’t compensate you for spoiled food if your electricity is disconnected because you fail to pay your bill.
If the utility company is responsible for the power outage, your homeowners insurance policy may have a specific provision that deals with that type of case. Your utility company may reimburse you for spoiled food or for your homeowners insurance deductible if you file a claim.
The number of homes affected may be a relevant factor. Your insurance company may cover spoiled food if the power outage only affected your house, or it may only provide coverage for a power outage that affects a wider area, such as your entire neighborhood.
Find Out What Your Policy Covers
Homeowners insurance companies differ in how they handle food loss related to a power outage. If you have questions, review your policy or contact your insurance company or agent and ask.
Your insurer may limit the amount it will pay for spoiled food, regardless of the actual value of the food that you have to throw away. You may have to pay a deductible before your insurance company will provide compensation. If the value of the spoiled food is less than the amount of the deductible, it may not make sense to file a claim. Sometimes homeowners insurance companies charge a lower deductible for food spoilage or waive the deductible altogether. Contact your insurer and ask.
If your homeowners insurance policy doesn’t currently cover food spoilage related to a power outage, you may want to modify your coverage so you’ll be protected in the future. You may be able to add that coverage for an additional premium.
If you file a claim, take photos of spoiled food before you throw it away. That’s particularly important if you’re seeking compensation for expensive food. If you have receipts for the food, submit them along with your claim.