Does homeowners insurance cover power surges?

Homeowners insurance may cover damage to your home and belongings caused by a power surge, up to your policy's limits. Whether or not the damage is covered may vary based on what caused the surge.

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What is a power surge?

A power surge is a sudden voltage spike that travels through your home's electrical system. Unfortunately, a power surge can quickly damage or destroy electronics and appliances plugged into a wall socket during the surge. In some cases, a power surge can damage outlets and electrical wiring, and even cause a fire.

Power surges are typically caused by:

  • Lightning strikes: If lightning hits your home, the power lines going into your home, or your telephone lines, it can cause a power surge.
  • Power company issues: A variety of local power company issues can result in a surge, such as transmission line malfunctions in your neighborhood, surge switching caused by changes in the electrical load, and even maintenance work and power grid switching.
  • Old wiring: Power surges can also be caused by aging or malfunctioning wiring in your home.

What types of damage can power surges cause in a home?

A power surge can not only damage and/or destroy appliances and other electrical items plugged into an outlet, but can also create small fires at the site of the surge that can turn into larger house fires. During a storm it’s best to unplug all electronics to safeguard your stuff – and your home. The lightning itself may not cause a power surge, but sometimes the restoration of power after a power outage or blackout due to a lightning strike or storm could result in a power surge.

How does home insurance cover power surge damage?

Personal property coverage (Coverage C) on your homeowners insurance policy may help in the event your appliances or other electronics were damaged due to a power surge.

Most power surges happen at the connection site of plug to an outlet, but power surges can also damage old wiring within the walls of your home. This type of damage could be covered by your homeowners dwelling coverage (Coverage A). This type of coverage may also help with appliances that are built into your home, such as your furnace or water heater.

If a power surge causes a prolonged power outage, then your policy’s loss of use coverage may pay for you to live elsewhere while the outage is repaired.

What happens if the power surge was caused by the electric company?

Different homeowners policies cover different types of surges. If the electric company caused the power surge, it’s best to contact your insurer to determine if your policy considers an electrical load surge from a utility company a covered peril.

You should also contact your utility company to see what its procedure is in the event you need to file a claim. While some electrical companies offer surge protection as part of your monthly bill, not all do, so it’s best to see if and how you may be covered.

Does home insurance cover artificially generated surges?

Artificially generated surges are power surges caused by your local electric company. If they cause a surge during maintenance work, your homeowners policy may cover the damage.

However, even if covered, some insurance companies exclude the damage to tubes, transistors, and other components inside your electronics that make them work if an artificially generated current caused the surge. Check with your agent or insurance company to verify how coverage works.

Does renters insurance cover power surge damage?

This varies by insurer and how the damage occurred. Renters insurance typically covers damage to your personal property caused by power surges that result from a lightning strike. Power surges that are generated by an artificial current may or may not be covered. Ask your agent or check your policy to see if certain types of power surges are excluded from coverage.

How do I file an insurance claim for power surge damage?

If you've experienced a lightning strike or power surge that's damaged your electronics or appliances, you'll need to decide if you want to file a claim. If you decide you want to file a claim for the damages, you can call your insurance company or file a claim online. While the exact claim process can vary by insurer, you'll generally need to document the damage to your home, electronics, and appliances for your claim. You should take photos and video of the damage and include them with your claim. An adjuster may be sent to your home to inspect the damage.

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