Nothing throws your life off track quite like a power outage. Without access to things like your appliances, internet connection, and sometimes your water, everything you do in a day becomes much harder. Not only that, but you can often feel the effects of a power outage long after the lights come back on through lasting damage to things like your appliances or equipment. There is a silver lining to this tough situation– some of your things might be covered by your insurance! Here’s a breakdown of what insurance after a blackout looks like, and some tips and tricks you can use to prevent damage when the lights start flickering on you.
What Electronics and Appliances are Vulnerable?
Two things can damage your appliances and electronics during a blackout– power surges and low voltage. During the surge, a mini-blast of overly high voltage runs through the system and any electronics that are plugged in can get fried by the sudden overload; usually things like TVs, computers, landline phones, or cell phones and laptops that are plugged in to charge. Smart home systems and smart devices may also be vulnerable to damage. These power surges can happen both when the lights go out and when they come back on.
When the power eventually comes back on, sometimes the voltage is a lot lower than usual, and this can do damage to your more mechanical appliances, like your fridge or dryer, by not having enough power to start the motor or by causing problems like overheating.
The personal property coverage of your homeowner’s insurance is going to do the heavy lifting when it comes to damage from a power outage. If the power surge and subsequent outage comes from a covered event (for example, a lightning strike), your personal property coverage will help to cover the cost of their repair or replacement, although there may be a cap on how much you can receive for each damaged item. This will depend on your policy, so you’ll have to check in for specifics.
You can also add equipment breakdown coverage to your insurance if you want to be extra sure that your electronics and appliances will be covered in case they’re damaged. This coverage will normally have an overall monetary cap instead of a per-item cap, and you can also usually count on it to have a lower deductible. If you live in an area that tends to experience a higher-than-average number of blackouts, or you’re very concerned about protecting your appliances and electronics, adding equipment breakdown coverage will probably be a good idea for you!
How Can I Prevent Damage?
In many cases, you can prevent the damage of a power surge before it even happens with a few easy precautions! The most obvious one is to just unplug your appliances when you know there’s something like a storm or heat wave coming in that might mess with the power. This is most easily done with things like your phone and laptop, which you can charge ahead of time and then leave unplugged to keep them off the power grid.
For something like your fridge or desktop computer, it’s not as simple as just unplugging them, so consider getting some surge protectors! These gadgets act as a buffer between your outlet and your appliance to protect against power spikes. Lots of them even come in the form of extension cords, which makes them handy to use all the time so that you’re always protected.
Once the power is out, you’ll want to unplug all of your appliances and electronics until it returns. This will help you to avoid the power surge from the system lighting back up. Leave one lamp or light turned on to alert you that things are up and running again, but keep everything else unplugged and safe.
Power outages can be an inconvenience for a few hours, or they can be a dangerous problem, but with a little bit of forethought and a good understanding of your insurance policy, you can protect yourself and your belongings and mitigate the issues that a power outage causes!