Does homeowners insurance cover power surges?

Homeowners insurance may cover your electronics or appliances if they are fried by a power surge, but it will depend on the type of coverage in your policy and what caused the power surge.

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Published June 24, 2020

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Your homeowners insurance may cover power surge damage if it was caused by lightning

  • A standard policy also covers sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical currents, like if your electrical company botches a maintenance job

  • For more comprehensive coverage for your appliances and electronics, consider purchasing equipment breakdown coverage

Power surges can be caused in a variety of ways, like if lightning strikes your home or a nearby telephone pole, or if the electrical wiring in your house is old, or maybe because of utility company work in your neighborhood.

Either way, no matter what caused it, power surges can damage or destroy anything plugged into your walls, from your blow dryer to your television.

But are you covered by homeowners insurance if your laptop or TV gets fried? That will depend on what caused the loss — your insurance probably won’t cover power surge damage caused by an overloaded circuit or exposed wiring, but if the damage was caused by a covered peril, like lightning, you can likely be reimbursed for the loss.

In this article:

What is a power surge?

Just like the name implies, a power surge is quite literally a surge in electrical power. It’s a sudden spike in voltage in your home’s electrical system that significantly exceeds the standard flow of electricity. Power surges can damage appliances and electronics that are plugged into your walls, and can sometimes damage your outlets or cause electrical fires.

There are a few common ways that power surges can happen:

  • Lighting strikes
  • If there is a malfunction in a nearby transmission line
  • Electrical company doing maintenance work, or power grid switching
  • An appliance blows a fuse, like a high powered AC unit, or even a hair dryer
  • Faulty or old electrical wiring in your home

When does homeowners insurance cover power surge damage?

Whether or not your homeowners policy covers power surge damage depends on what actually caused it. In a standard homeowners insurance policy, lightning strikes and sudden, accidental damage from artificially generated electrical currents are both covered.

If your house is struck by lightning, and it causes a power surge that fries your TVs and computer, your homeowners insurance may help pay to replace your damaged belongings up to your personal property coverage limit. If your electrical company caused a power surge during maintenance work that damaged your belongings, that may be considered an artificially generated electrical current, which is covered.

However, some insurers do not cover the loss of tubes, transistors, and other components that make electronics work, which would exclude most home appliances, like refrigerators and stoves, if they were to be damaged by an artificially generated current.

Homeowners insurance may also cover:

  • Short circuit damage
  • Damage caused by a power surge, like a fire

If you’re covered, your reimbursement amount will depend on whether you have a replacement cost policy or an actual cash value policy. If you have a replacement cost policy, and your policy covers power surge damage, then your insurer will reimburse you for new items, up to your policy’s limits. But if you have an actual cash value policy, you will only be reimbursed the depreciated value of your belongings.

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Equipment breakdown coverage

If you’re worried about power surge damage and want enhanced coverage for your appliances consider adding equipment breakdown coverage to your policy. Equipment breakdown coverage is a policy endorsement that offers protection for everything from your TVs to your dishwasher against many causes of loss — like mechanical breakdown, power surges, and short circuits — that aren’t covered by your standard coverage.

Equipment breakdown coverage also protects your appliances in the event that they are damaged due to:

  • Improper installation
  • Mechanical breakdown, including rupture or bursting that’s caused by a centrifugal force
  • Pressure systems breakdown

Learn more about equipment breakdown coverage.

When does homeowners insurance not cover power surge damage?

There are a few instances where your homeowners insurance company may not cover damage due to a power surge.

  • The power surge occurred due to general negligence
  • Your home has been vacant for over 60 days
  • The power surge occurred due to maintenance issues

As we mentioned before, some insurance companies will not cover artificially generated electrical damage to tubes, transistors, or electronics that are part of appliances or fixtures in your home.

What to do to prevent power surges

There are proactive steps you can take to protect your home from power surges by installing various degrees of surge protection devices. Point-of-use surge protection devices (SPDs) are protective devices that can usually be installed in a similar way to your circuit breaker (typically you’d need a professional to install an SPD). SPDs won’t suppress or stop a power surge, but they instead divert the electrical surge to the ground. SPDs can protect the appliances in your home, and you can combine SPDs with other surge protectors, like an electric panel surge protector.

It’s always a good idea to periodically check your plugs and your home’s wiring. Installing surge protected outlets and replacing your surge protectors every few years is a good way to keep your home protected from potential power surges. If you live in an area that experiences extreme weather, you might want to consider installing a lightning protection system in your house.

About the author

Insurance Editor

Kara McGinley

Insurance Editor

Kara McGinley is an Insurance Editor at Policygenius. She previously worked as a freelance writer and a copywriter for various startups. Her work can be found in Teen Vogue, The Culture Crush, Mask Magazine, and more.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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