As a Certified Master Inspector, I often get asked by new homeowners, does home insurance pay for power surge damage? Renters also wonder who pays for power surge damage, their landlord or the renter.
Home insurance company policies often pay for power surge damage to electronics and appliances. However, the amount of protection you have depends on the cause of the surge, and that’s where it gets muddy.
To ensure that your home is adequately protected, it’s essential to understand how power surges can occur and what steps you can take preemptively to protect yourself from them.
Here we will explain everything there is to know about power surges and their effect on homeowners insurance so that you are always prepared!
What Is a Power Surge?
An electrical spike lasting less than a millisecond can damage your home electronics, appliances, and HVAC systems. Even worse, a power surge can cause irreparable damage to outlets and wiring and potentially spark a house fire.
Such outbursts of energy are generated either internally by the household’s electricity grid itself or externally from lightning strikes, power outages, and downed power lines. Therefore, all families must understand this hidden danger and take appropriate measures against such unforeseen damages!
Lightning strikes hitting your home, power lines, or telephone wires can result in a surge and other property damage. Moreover, switching surges are created due to sudden changes in electrical loads within your residence or due to power companies’ operations.
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, power surges from switching surges typically occur due to the following:
- Overloading wall outlets
- Damaged or ungrounded wiring
- High-powered devices
- Power outages
Does My Home Insurance Pay For Power Surge Damage?
Your standard homeowner’s policy is designed to safeguard your belongings against covered events up to the set policy limit in the insurance policy. If a power surge damages or destroys your appliances and electronics, you could be supported with repair or replacement costs under personal property coverage.
With a basic homeowners insurance policy, your property is typically covered up to $1,200 per item (policy limits may vary). You can take your homeowners insurance further by adding extended coverage for total protection of up to $100,000 or more.
It is essential to be familiar with the terms and limits of your home insurance coverage when it comes to power surge protection, as they will determine whether you’re covered. The best way to ensure that you are well informed about this is by scheduling a personal review session with your insurance agent, who can be sure that everything in your policy leaves no room for doubt.
If you’re seeking assurance that your electronics will be safe from any power surge, look no further than equipment breakdown coverage for an extra $25 to $50 per year (price varies with the insurance provider). This policy protects mechanical, electrical, or pressure systems should they sustain damage due to a power surge.
To safeguard yourself from pricey device replacement or repair costs after a power surge, equipment breakdown coverage is your best bet. Although typical home insurance policies will cover destruction caused by lightning and artificially generated electrical current, this additional coverage means no item limits, and you pay less for deductibles.
What Homeowners Insurance Usually Covers
Protect your home from power surge damage with comprehensive coverage for the following items:
Protect your home appliances from power surge damage with personal property coverage in your homeowner’s insurance policy. This type of coverage will safeguard you from refrigerators to washing machines and ensure that repairs won’t be costly if anything goes wrong.
Your policy may cover the replacement cost for an air conditioner or heat pump system. Still, it’s important to remember that some policies only cover certain types of damage, and limits will apply. Be sure you understand what your policy covers, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if anything is unclear. You may need additional equipment breakdown coverage, especially with multiple systems.
Your policy’s dwelling coverage usually takes care of your home’s wiring in the event of a power surge causing damage. However, it may not cover the cost of replacing faulty wiring caused by poor maintenance or age. Be sure to check your policy for exact coverage limits and restrictions.
There are numerous instances of claims being denied for old electrical systems. Insurance companies expect homeowners to keep their homes updated with current safety standards and code requirements, and they will often reject claims related to old electrical systems.
Like any appliances in your home, if a power surge has ruined any of your electronics, such as TVs or computers, you can depend on personal property coverage, which will help repair or replace it within your personal property limits.
Tips to Prevent Power Surge Damage
As a homeowner, taking precautionary measures is vital to protect your home from the possibility of power surges. These few safety tips can make all the difference:
- Unplug electronics and appliances you don’t frequently use: Unplugging electronics and devices you aren’t using can be highly beneficial; not only does this guard them against damage due to power surges, but it also helps reduce your energy bill!
- Unplug electronics during thunderstorms: During a thunderstorm, it’s vital to unplug your electronics from the wall to guard them against sudden power surges.
- Use surge protectors for expensive devices: To ensure extra protection for your valuable equipment, using surge protectors is recommended; these devices help avoid any unwanted voltage from entering and damaging your electrical appliances during an electricity spike.
- Update old electrical systems: If you’re experiencing blown fuses, tripped circuit breakers, or flickering lights when a large appliance is in use – these are all warning signs that poor electrical wiring could lead to an unexpected power surge and ultimately cause a potential fire.
- Install whole house surge protection: A whole house surge protector can protect your house circuitry from power surges. These devices are installed at the main breaker panel and protect your home appliances and electronics from voltage spikes, lightning strikes, downed trees, or other power-related problems.
Although homeowners insurance policies typically do not cover appliance damage caused by an electric surge, surge protectors can be added. Furthermore, renters insurance generally does not provide this type of coverage, leaving tenants to seek financial assistance from their landlords.
What are Power Surge Suppressors?
When selecting the most suitable surge protection device for your home, there are three primary options. To ensure you make the right choice, you must identify which type of system best suits your needs.
Type 1 – Meter Base Surge Protection
Type 1 surge protection is installed at your meter base and protects from external sources, such as electrical spikes from utility companies following a power outage or a downed power line.
For the utmost protection against external sources, type 1 devices are your best option against power surge damage to the house wiring. Although low-power surges don’t pose a major threat, these surge protectors also safeguard you from them.
To ensure only safe levels of current reaches your home safely, they must be installed at the electrical service meter base before the main breaker box – referred to as the “line side.” As it requires that power to your house be cut while work is done and needs an experienced electrician for installation, costs can mount significantly.
Type 2 – Whole House Surge Protector
An alternative option is to install a whole-house surge suppressor at the main service panel. These specialized protectors are structured to mitigate comprehensive energy spikes as they enter the premises, thereby reducing their influence on additional equipment down the line.
Type 2 whole house surge protection devices are the go-to choice, and they can be fitted inside a main breaker panel or sub panel. Although it’s feasible for someone with experience in DIY and electricals to carry out the installation themselves, we recommend using an approved electrician instead.
To guard a specific circuit or all circuits within an electrical panel, look no further than the effective Type 2 surge devices. An experienced electrician can help you with installation and ensure maximum safety.
The pros and cons to whole house surge protectors for your electrical wiring, TV, and telephone cabling, with the primary benefit being that they can absorb power surges inside your home.
According to NEMA, 60-80% of power surges originate inside your home. These power spikes occur when larger appliances turn on or off, like your refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, or air conditioner.
Although these devices may be pricier than average – reaching up to $700 – and must be installed by a licensed electrician with periodic inspections, this approach is well worth it for its vast benefits in safeguarding your property from power surges.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has proposed that each new residence has either a Type 1 or Type 2 device. At the same time, any existing service panels should include one as part of their replacement process.
Type 3 – Power Strips
Strip surge arresters are a great, cost-effective way to safeguard equipment from electrical surges. All you have to do is plug them into any wall socket, and they will generally provide 3-6 additional outlets for other appliances such as televisions, computers, or video game consoles.
These devices absorb excessive power, which helps reduce the risk of electrical damage, although it isn’t 100% effective in all cases.
Does home insurance cover artificially generated surges?
When your local power company is conducting maintenance and accidentally causes a surge, rest assured that typically there’s coverage for the damage in most homeowners’ policies.
Nevertheless, some insurers may exclude any harm to components within electronics caused by an artificially generated current – such as tubes, transistors, or other parts making them operate correctly.
Does Renters Insurance Cover Power Surge Damage?
Whether your renter’s insurance policy covers power surge damage depends on the insurer and what caused it. Coverage will likely be available if a lightning strike is to blame; however, some policies may not include electrical surges resulting from an artificial current. To know if you’re covered or excluded, contact your agent or review the details of your plan.
Renters’ insurance only covers personal belongings, so you’ll be limited to your personal property coverage. Beyond that, you may need to seek restitution from your landlord.
How Do I File an Insurance Claim for Power Surge Damage?
When lightning or a power surge has destroyed your electronic devices and appliances, your first step is to decide if you plan to file an insurance claim. To do this, contact your insurer by phone or through their online claim filing system.
Generally, the process entails collecting evidence of the damage inflicted on items in your home – everything from photos and videos that show what happened right after impact till when an adjuster assessed it and sent it over for inspection afterward.
An electrician can use a multimeter to test your home’s electrical system, electronic devices, and appliances. The multimeter will measure the electrical circuits’ resistance, current, and voltage. It can also detect if a circuit is overloaded or open, which can cause problems such as fire hazards.
A qualified electrician can produce an electrical inspection report with a repair quote you can provide to your insurance adjuster when you file a claim.
As each insurance provider may have different regulations surrounding claims filing processes, ensure that all documents are included with yours before submission!
Power Surge Damage FAQs
How do you prove power surges?
You may also need an electrical inspection from a licensed electrician to confirm power surge damage. You’ll need photos (video is best) detailing what occurred and the property damage. If electrical system damage occurs, your qualified electrician can provide a repair estimate to the insurance adjuster.
Do home warranty companies cover power surge damage?
No, a home warranty does not typically cover power surge damage. Usually, your home insurance policy will protect you from power surge damage, although limits may apply.
Does the utility company pay for electrical power surge damage?
No, the utility company does not pay for electrical power surge damage. Often power loss or failure is out of the utility company’s control. The consumer is responsible for taking proactive steps to protect against power surges using surge protectors and other protective measures.