Picture this: You lost power for a few days. Maybe a blizzard or strong winds caused widespread power outages, or perhaps you heard the transformer blow and saw everything go dark in your home. Eventually, the electric company restored your power, but before that could happen, most of the food in your fridge and freezer spoiled.
Now you’re wondering if you can get reimbursed for at least some of the spoiled food. Learn how your homeowners insurance might be able to reimburse you for food spoilage and whether a claim can raise your premiums.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Spoiled Food?
Standard homeowners insurance policies usually have $500 of food-loss coverage stemming from a power outage.
Consider your home insurance deductibles—the amount of money you are responsible for paying when seeking insurance coverage for medical care or a disaster—before filing a home insurance claim, though. If your food loss totals $500 and your deductible is also $500, there’d be nothing for your home insurance to pay out. Even if your deductible was $250, homeowners insurance only covers up to your policy’s food spoilage limit.
Since your deductible must be greater than your loss but lower than your policy limits to receive a reimbursement, it makes sense for the difference to be large enough to be worth your time to file a claim.
Some insurers offer a separate food loss deductible for an added premium, so it’s worth asking your agent if it’s something you may be interested in adding to your policy.
When Am I Covered for Food Spoilage Claims?
It’s important to discuss with an agent the specifics of your home insurance policy to know under what circumstances you’re covered. Some insurers don’t insure against food loss from a widespread power outage if the cause of the power loss is off-premises. But if your insurer does, the reason for the power outage must occur from a covered risk under your policy.
Homeowners insurance may cover food spoilage arising from power outages caused by:
- Fallen trees on your property
- Named hurricanes and storms
- Lightning strikes on your property
- Water damage from a covered storm
Some common scenarios where you might not be covered for food spoilage are power losses caused by:
- Neighborhood blackouts from an issue with the power line
- Nonpayment of electric bills or service from the electric company
- Malfunctioning of your fridge because of wear and tear or mechanical failure
- Floods (unless you have flood insurance)
When submitting claims for covered food spoilage, it’s a good idea to take pictures of the loss, keep handy any receipts you have for expensive food items, and estimate the total cost of the spoiled food.
Can You Get Extra Coverage for Power Outages?
Adding a food-spoilage endorsement to your homeowners insurance policy typically provides spoiled-food coverage regardless of the reason for the power outage. Adding equipment-breakdown coverage may cover food spoilage from a mechanical failure or electrical breakdown in your refrigerator’s components, too. American Family Insurance provides equipment-breakdown coverage starting at $20 per year but, as with other insurers, you’ll have to pay a deductible to make a claim for spoiled food.
Warranties offered by home improvement stores may also provide food-spoilage coverage if your refrigerator malfunctions because of component failure or reasons other than a power outage. For example, Home Depot’s Extended Service plan provides up to $300 of food-spoilage coverage if the covered appliance has a mechanical failure.
But in all instances, be sure to carefully read the warranty’s terms and conditions to know if secondary damage like spoiled food is covered. If not, the company may offer a coverage add-on for secondary damage.
Home and appliance warranties are not insurance. They are service contracts designed to cover home-appliance and system failures or malfunctioning caused by age and wear and tear.
Will a Food Spoilage Claim Affect My Homeowners Insurance Premiums?
Filing a home insurance claim for spoiled food could end up costing you more because insurers may see you as being more likely to file future claims. To make up for the higher risk, insurance companies may raise your premium by double-digit percentage points, depending on the type of claim and the number of claims you’ve previously filed.
People with multiple claims in recent years are likely to pay higher rates. Insurers may frown upon a homeowner if the claim is the second of its kind in the past decade, even if the first claim came from the previous owner. It may be better to view your home insurance policy as coverage for major losses only, not small claims.
- A standard homeowners insurance policy may cover spoiled-food costs up to the policy limits when it results from a covered risk.
- Not all insurers provide coverage for widespread power outages that don’t originate on your property.
- It may not be worth it to file a claim because your deductible may be close to or the same as your estimated loss, and because you could see a premium increase at renewal.