Does renters insurance cover power surge damage?

Renters insurance generally does not cover power surge damage, but there are a few ways in which renters insurance can still help cover a loss to an electrical appliance if this does happen to you.

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Published December 27, 2019

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Renters insurance usually doesn’t cover belongings that are damaged by a power surge, but some policies will cover damage related to a power surge. For example, if lightning strikes your apartment and causes a power surge that fries your TV, your renters insurance will cover some of the damage up to your policy’s limit

  • You can cover expensive electronic items that would be damaged from a power surge by adding specific riders and additional coverages

  • An all-risks policy is often more expensive than a named-perils policy but covers more perils

Renters insurance can reimburse you or replace your belongings if they’re lost, stolen, or destroyed in a covered peril. What is considered a covered peril will depend on your policy. Most renters insurance policies do not cover damage from a power surge. However, you may be able to purchase additional coverage or riders in order to protect your electronics.

There will be limits to the amount of coverage for each peril. Surge protectors are key, but if your TV gets fried from a power surge, your renters insurance policy still might be able to help you out — depending on how the power surge damage occurred and whether you have any additional riders or coverage that you have.

In this article:

When doesn’t renters insurance cover power surge damage?

When it comes to damage caused by power surge, most renters insurance companies do not offer coverage. Damage caused by an increase or decrease in electrical current is not a common named peril in a renters insurance policy. Many landlords will require an electrician to come check outlets before you move in and throughout the year. You can also request in your lease that your rental unit have surge protectors installed before you move in.

When does renters insurance cover power surge damage?

Some insurance policies will list accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current as a covered peril, which is a long way of saying was damage due to a power surge. However, most of the time this peril does not cover the loss of tubes, transistors, or electronics that are part of appliances, fixtures, computers, or home entertainment devices. What this peril does and doesn’t include depends on your insurance provider.

But although renters insurance does not cover damage by power surge, it does cover damage caused by lightning. This means if your building gets struck by lightning and that causes a power surge, your renters insurance will cover your damaged belongings, up to your policy’s limits.

Renters insurance also covers short-circuit damage caused by electrical appliances. Short-circuit accidents can result in electrical damage to your appliances and sometimes even lead to a fire. Depending on your coverage limits, your renters insurance could reimburse you for this peril.

Renters insurance will also cover damage that’s indirectly caused by a power surge. For example, if a surge that overloaded the wiring in your rental and caused a fire, your renters insurance would cover the damage from the fire, up to your coverage limit.

How can renters insurance protect expensive electronics?

When it comes to big ticket items like fancy TVs or smart electronics in your home, you might want to consider taking an extra step to protect them. Most renters insurance policies only cover expensive electronics up to $2,500, but there are a few options for how to increase coverage.

  • Additional coverages: You might want to purchase additional coverage or riders to insure your more valuable items. Like we mentioned before, when it comes to power surge damage, some insurance companies will offer coverage for “sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current" as part of your personal property protection. You might want to increase this specific coverage, but it’s important to talk with your insurance company about what is and is not covered.

  • Replacement cost rider: You can buy two kinds of renters insurance policies: a replacement cost policy or an actual cost value policy. If you have an actual cash value policy then you can purchase a replacement cost rider to protect a specific item. This means you will have to pay a bit more money upfront, but that you will get fully reimbursed for the specific item if you file a claim, enough to replace it with the same item, or one of equivalent value.

  • At-home business rider: Renters insurance only covers personal items, not business or commercial items. If you have a full-time at home business, your renters insurance isn’t going to cover all of the expensive equipment you might be using to run your business. If this is the case, you can purchase an at-home business rider that can cover the pricey business items that your job entails. Sometimes it makes sense to also buy a business insurance policy or a commercial insurance policy.

Read more about how to purchase renters insurance riders.

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All-perils renters insurance policy vs. named perils renters insurance policy

Coverage for power surge damage might also depend on the type of perils outlined in your policy. There are two types of renters insurance policies: an all-risk policy or a named perils policy. An all-perils or all-risk renters insurance policy is a type of policy that covers all perils unless otherwise stated in the policy. This means only the excluded perils will be named in your policy.

An all-perils policy is usually more expensive than a named-perils policy because it’s more likely that you will suffer a loss that the renters insurance company will be responsible for reimbursing. It covers more perils than a named-perils policy.

There are still some exclusions when it comes to an all-perils or all-risk policy. Your policy could still exclude power surge damage as a covered peril from the policy, but it will have to explicitly list it as an excluded peril.

A named perils policy is like the opposite of an all-perils policy: it only states what is included as a covered peril in your policy. So unlike all-perils, which only includes what is excluded, a named perils policy will outline all of the covered perils that are included should you need to file a claim.

A named perils policy will outline a comprehensive list of covered perils. Because named-perils are so specific about when a damaged or destroyed item will be covered, they end up being the cheaper option, sometimes saving people a couple of hundred dollars a year in premiums.

What does renters insurance cover?

Basic renters insurance policies are made up of several coverage components, and cover a range of types of losses. Renters insurance covers:

  • Your personal property: Your renters insurance policy will reimburse you for damaged or destroyed personal property up to your coverage limits. In order for you to file a claim, the type of loss must be included in your policy as a covered peril.
  • Personal liability and medical bills: Renters insurance usually covers your personal liability in addition to your personal property. This will come in handy if anyone gets hurt in your rental unit and you end up being responsible for their medical bills. It also covers you when you’re off your property, like if your dog bites someone and you have to pay for their medical expenses.
  • Temporary living expenses: If your home becomes uninhabitable due to a damage covered in your policy, your renters insurance will pay for you to temporarily live elsewhere until your dwelling becomes habitable again.
  • Other types of coverages: You can add riders and additional coverage for things aren’t automatically covered by renters insurance, like earthquakes or floods. You can also add coverage for things like identity theft or fraud.

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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