Does homeowners insurance cover power surges?
Last updated: January 2024
A sudden spike in electricity — a power surge — can damage or destroy appliances and gadgets in the blink of an eye. And with more electronics in our homes than ever, that can be costly. The personal property coverage in a homeowners insurance policy may help cover damaged or destroyed appliances and electronics, depending on how the power surge happened.
What causes power surges?
Power surges may be caused by two main events, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):
- Lightning strikes can cause a power surge, along with other damage, if they hit your home, power lines or telephone wires.
- Switching surges are caused by sudden changes in electrical loads, either within your home or because of power company operations.
Personal property coverage for electrical damage
Homeowners insurance policies typically include several kinds of coverage. A key coverage is personal property coverage, which may help replace your belongings if they're damaged by a covered peril. If a power surge damages or destroys your electronics and appliances, personal property coverage in your homeowners insurance may help to protect you — up to the limits in your policy. However, coverage can vary depending on your individual policy, so it's important to read your policy carefully or ask your insurance provider.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) explains that some — but not all — homeowners policies cover power surges that occur when lightning strikes your home directly.
Most homeowners policies include some protection against sudden, accidental damage from man-made electricity, according to the III. However, the III notes, some insurers don't offer coverage for tubes, transistors and other components that make electronics work. Check your policy to learn what may and may not be covered in your home.
For example, if an appliance overheats and dies due to a power surge, your homeowners insurance may help cover that loss. Homeowners insurance may also provide protection if a power surge damages the electronic parts of your TV, entertainment system or laptop.
Planning ahead and surge protection
It's important to have a proper inventory of your personal items in case you ever need to make a claim. A detailed home inventory can help you decide whether you have enough insurance. It can also make it easier to make a claim, if you ever need to.
Finally, there are proactive things you can do to help protect your home. The III suggests installing a lightning protection system and using surge protectors. In a storm, you might consider unplugging appliances, especially more sensitive electronic devices such as computers, laptops, tablets or smart phones.
No one expects their electronics or appliances to get fried in a power surge. But having protections in place — and understanding the terms and limits of your homeowners insurance coverage — can bring you some peace of mind, in case something does happen.