Food spoilage coverage: What you need to know

Most homeowners insurance policies will cover the cost of food that spoils due to a covered event, like a power outage after a tornado or hurricane.

If your food spoils because of a power outage caused by a windstorm, lightning strike, or another covered peril, homeowners insurance can help pay to replace your food. Most standard homeowners insurance policies cover up to $500 in food loss after a power outage, but only if the cause of the outage is covered by your policy. 

Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover maintenance issues, so if your food spoils because your refrigerator suddenly stops working, your policy won’t cover the loss. If your utility company causes a power outage, you might be able to get them to reimburse you for the food loss, however it’ll depend on the situation and the company.

Key Takeaways

  • Some insurance companies provide up to $500 in food spoilage coverage to cover the cost of food loss after power outages

  • If your food spoils due to a power outage that is caused by a covered peril, this coverage can reimburse you for the loss

  • Home insurance won’t reimburse you for food loss caused by an earthquake power outage or a broken refrigerator

  • If food spoilage coverage is not included in your home insurance, you can likely add it to your policy for an additional premium

When does homeowners insurance cover spoiled food?

Most homeowners policies include coverage for frozen and refrigerated food that spoils during a power outage, but only if the loss of power was caused by a covered peril. If lightning strikes your house and causes a power surge that fries your refrigerator, homeowners insurance may cover food spoilage in this instance. If a windstorm blows a tree down in your yard, and the downed tree knocks out the power, your homeowners policy may help pay to replace the food if it goes bad in your fridge.

However, if an electrical grid failure caused the power outage and food loss, your insurer may not be the one picking up the tab. In this instance, it’s worth asking your utility company if they’re able to pay you for the loss. Some utility companies provide food spoilage reimbursements in instances where they’re at fault for the outage. Check with your utility company to see if this is the case.

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Is there a deductible for food spoilage?

Food spoilage coverage typically has a limit of $500, which is the maximum amount your insurer will pay out for food loss. Some insurance companies also offer up to $2,500 in food spoilage coverage. Keep in mind that when you file a food spoilage claim, some insurers will require you to pay a deductible before they cover the remainder of the loss. If your deductible exceeds the cost of the food that spoiled, you won’t be able to file a claim. In some cases, insurance companies will waive the deductible or offer a separate, lower deductible for food losses.

When does homeowners insurance not cover spoiled food?

A standard home policy will list a bunch of perils that are excluded from coverage. If the power outage is caused by a flood, for example, you won’t be reimbursed for any food loss or any other damage to your home and personal property. Power outages caused by any of the following events are also excluded:

  • Earthquakes or any form of earth movement

  • Negligence, like if you forget to pay your power bill and your electricity gets shut off

  • Wear and tear over time

  • Certain causes of a power surge, like poor installation

  • Equipment breakdown, like if your refrigerator suddenly goes kaput

For additional protection for your appliances, like your refrigerator or washing machine, consider adding equipment breakdown coverage to your policy for an additional premium.

Equipment breakdown coverage is an endorsement you can add-on to your homeowners insurance to cover appliances that break down due to mechanical or electrical failure. If your fridge was installed wrong or happened to stop working after a power surge, equipment breakdown coverage would cover replacement or repairs and may cover food spoilage as well.

How to file a food spoilage claim

When submitting a claim for food loss, you’ll need to provide proof and documentation just as you would with any other personal property claim. It’s a good idea to have the below information handy:

  • Receipts or bank statements of the food purchase

  • Pictures or videos of the damage that caused the loss and of the spoiled food itself

  • An estimated cost of the food if you don’t have all the receipts

You can typically file a claim with your homeowners insurance company over the phone or online through their website. If your claim is approved, a claims adjuster may visit your home to investigate the damage and confirm the legitimacy of your loss before reaching a settlement.