Does home insurance cover spoiled food from a power outage?

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.

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Rachael BrennanSenior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance ExpertRachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and

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Jennifer GimbelJennifer GimbelSenior Managing Editor & Home Insurance ExpertJennifer Gimbel is a senior managing editor and home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our homeowners insurance coverage. Previously, she was the managing editor at and a content strategist at

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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 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

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When does homeowners insurance cover spoiled food?

Most homeowners insurance policies include coverage for frozen and refrigerated food that spoils during a power outage if the loss of power was caused by a covered peril. 

Here are two examples when your home insurance would cover spoiled food:

  • Lightning strikes your house and causes a power surge that fries your refrigerator.

  • A windstorm blows down a tree in your yard and knocks out power to your home, including your refrigerator.

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 for the loss. Some utility companies provide food spoilage reimbursements in instances where they’re at fault for the outage, so check with yours to see if this is the case.

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What does food spoilage insurance cover?

Food spoilage insurance covers the loss of frozen or refrigerated food that goes bad due to a power outage caused by a covered peril. However, it doesn’t cover dry goods like flour, sugar, or canned foods that are tainted.

Is there a deductible for food spoilage?

Every company is different, but the odds are good your policy deductible applies to most claims, including food spoilage. 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 spoiled food, 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.

Food spoilage coverage typically has a limit of $500, which is the maximum amount your insurer will pay out for food loss. However, some insurance companies may offer higher food spoilage coverage limits of up to $2,500 or more.

When does homeowners insurance not cover spoiled food?

A standard home insurance policy lists out the named perils that are excluded from coverage. If a power outage is caused by a flood, for example, you won’t be reimbursed for any food loss or 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 happens to stop working after a power surge, equipment breakdown coverage would cover repairs or to replace it, and may even 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 following 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.

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What is considered food spoilage?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), food spoilage is considered food that has deteriorated to the point of developing an unpleasant odor, taste, or texture. This may mean the food has become slimy, mushy, or smelly, and that most people would choose not to eat it. [1]

However, food does not need to be inedible or dangerous to be considered spoiled. Food that has deteriorated to a point that it has an unappealing scent, flavor, or texture is considered spoiled, even if it wouldn’t make you sick to eat it.

What are examples of spoiled food?

There are many ways for food to spoil, but only some types of spoilage are covered by your homeowners insurance. 

Spoiled food that would be covered by insurance 

  • Dairy items, like milk and cheese, that develop a foul odor after a power outage

  • Meat and poultry items, like chicken and beef, that are stored at inappropriate temperatures due to a power outage and cannot safely be eaten

  • Frozen items that lose their structure if not kept cold, like ice cream and popsicles, that have melted after a power outage

Spoiled food that would NOT be covered by insurance

  • Dry goods, like rice and flour, that are damaged due to flooding or storage in a wet or humid environment

  • Canned goods that are swollen due to botulism or other bacteria

  • Frozen, refrigerated, or dry goods that are spoiled due to chemical contamination, such as exposure to bleach or other chemicals used to clean up after a covered peril

How long is food good in the refrigerator without power?

According to the USDA, refrigerated foods stored at temperatures above 40 F for more than two hours should be discarded. [2] This means most refrigerators can keep everything at a safe temperature for up to four hours after a power outage, but this depends on a variety of factors, including the age, condition, and make and model of your refrigerator. 

If you have any reason to think your refrigerator or freezer got too warm during a power outage, the safest thing to do is throw out everything and restock your refrigerator with new items. You may be able to be reimbursed for the lost food if the power outage that led to the spoilage was caused by a covered peril.

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Frequently asked questions

Does business insurance cover spoiled food?

Businesses that have refrigerated food on site, like restaurants and food trucks, may need to purchase a spoilage coverage endorsement to protect themselves financially from the loss of refrigerated or frozen food that is part of their stock.

Does food spoilage have a deductible?

It can, depending on your insurance company. Some insurers require you to meet your deductible before paying a food spoilage claim, while other companies may lower or waive the deductible altogether for food spoilage.

Does homeowners insurance cover food loss from a broken refrigerator?

If your refrigerator is broken because of a covered peril, like a lightning strike or a kitchen fire, your insurance will likely pay a food spoilage claim. However, the insurance company won’t pay for your claim if your refrigerator breaks because of a non-covered peril like age or wear and tear.


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  1. USDA

    . "

    What are the signs of food spoilage?

    ." Accessed March 26, 2024.

  2. USDA

    . "

    Refrigeration and food safety

    ." Accessed March 26, 2024.


Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and


Jennifer Gimbel is a senior managing editor and home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our homeowners insurance coverage. Previously, she was the managing editor at and a content strategist at

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