Can I be reimbursed for spoiled food during a power outage?

Extended outages mean no air conditioning, limited internet service, and hundreds of dollars worth of spoiled food in refrigerators and freezers.

It’s a huge inconvenience and a financial burden, especially for the nearly 790,000 Washingtonians who have filed for unemployment benefits since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Will my power company pay for lost food?

Probably not. It is said some common causes of claims that PSE doesn’t pay include acts of God, which would likely include a storm or extended outages.

“As a matter of policy, PSE does not reimburse for food spoilage related to acts of nature,” spokeswoman Lauren Ugori said. The company’s website says PSE, like all other utilities, cannot guarantee continuity of service. “This is outlined in our Tariffs for Electric and Gas Service, Section 13.1, These Tariffs are filed with and approved by the State of Washington,” it said. “Therefore, PSE will not be liable for damages caused by certain occurrences that are beyond our control. We recommend homeowners ask their insurance company if food losses are covered by your policy.”

Will my homeowners insurance reimburse me?

It’s possible that your homeowners insurance could pay, but it’s not a slam dunk. The details depend on your policy.

Generally, the reason for the power outage will make a difference in whether your policy covers spoiled food.

Many policies will cover ruined food if it happened because of a covered risk, which is also called a peril. For example, food lost because of power outages caused by a fallen tree during a storm may be covered, but if power was cut because you accidentally cut your own line won’t be covered.

But your policy may get more specific. Some will only cover food if the power loss is across your entire neighborhood, while others are more generous and give coverage even if it’s only your home that’s affected.

If your policy does cover spoiled food, there are going to be limits. Most policies cover between $250 and $500 of food, but you’re also going to have to pay a deductible.

Before you make a claim, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it to pay a deductible and then risk your homeowner’s insurance rates going up.

If you want to make a claim, take photos of the lost food as proof. Grocery receipts may also come in handy if your insurance company wants proof of the loss.

And if your policy doesn’t cover spoiled food, you may be able to buy a rider that gives you coverage. This costs between $10 and $50 a year, depending on the coverage.