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.

Does homeowners insurance cover lightning damage?

Most standard homeowners insurance policies will cover damage to your home caused by lightning strikes. In addition, a homeowners policy usually covers fire damage if the lightning sparks a fire that damages your home. This would be covered under your dwelling coverage.

Your personal belongings are also typically covered for damage caused by lightning under the personal property coverage on your homeowners policy. This includes damage to your electronics and appliances caused by a power surge resulting from a lightning strike.

Keep in mind there may be limitations on your policy and coverage may vary by insurer so be sure to review your policy for specific home insurance coverages.

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 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 can I protect my home from lightning damage?

There are steps you can take to protect your home and belongings from a power surge and power surge damage, such as:

  • Lightning protection system: A lightning protection system (LPS) carries the current from a lightning strike into the ground, keeping it away from your home and electronics. An LPS is one of the best ways to prevent lightning damage, but it can be expensive and should always be installed by a professional.
  • Unplug electronics and devices: If a storm is approaching, unplugging electronics and other devices will ensure they're not damaged even if your home is struck by lightning.
  • Use surge protectors: Plug all your electronics and appliances into a surge protector if possible. A surge protector will help block surges from damaging your electronics. Be sure you're using a surge protector and not a regular power strip, which won't provide surge protection.
  • Update old wiring: If your home has old or malfunctioning wiring, it should be replaced. Faulty wiring can cause surges and also lead to a fire.

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 possibly video of the damage and include them with your claim. An adjuster may be sent to your home to inspect the damage.