Most insurance policies cover spoiled food from power outages. Is it worth a claim? [The News & Observer (Raleigh)]
News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
Insurance claims after a prolonged power outage typically include food loss and refrigerated medicines for homeowners.
If you’re considering filing a claim for food spoilage, here’s what you should know:
Is spoiled food covered by insurance?
Yes, insurance companies will usually cover up to $500 of food that spoils from a power outage, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
The News & Observer spoke with Loretta L. Worters, vice president of media relations for the Institute, to chat through the basics of filing claims after a power outage.
• It might come down to what caused the outage. If the outage was due to vandalism or terrorism, it must be written into the policy, she said.
“Is it vandalism? Is it the fault of Duke Energy? That’s where the policy language comes into play,” Worters said.
Jeff Brooks, a Duke Energy spokesperson, told ABC11 “situations beyond our control” aren’t typically covered by the claims process.
An endorsement for Spoilage Coverage (say, for a restaurant) provides additional coverage, but it may require the damage be caused by “a covered cause of loss,” which could be hail, a fire, a windstorm, etc.
• You usually have to pay a deductible before receiving your reimbursement. Limits and deductibles can vary, so homeowners should read their insurance policy or ask their agent to learn the specifics of their coverage, Worters said.
• Coverage limits typically apply. If you have $1,000 worth of spoiled food, for example, your homeowners insurance policy may only cover $500, she said.
• North Carolina can help navigate questions with your insurance policy. The NC Department of Insurance’s consumer hotline can be reached at 855-408-1212.
• If submitting a claim, take lots of photos. Allstate and American Family Insurance recommend documenting everything as best you can, including saving receipts for food bought to replace the spoiled stuff.
Allstate has seen “a number of claims for food spoilage” from customers in Moore County, per Joyce Buford, a spokesperson for Allstate Insurance Company.
Will there be reimbursements for power outage-related losses?
Here’s how agencies have responded to the days-long outage in Moore County:
• Possible Food and Nutrition Service waivers: The NC Department of Health and Human Services is in the process of working with the US Department of Agriculture to assess which options may exist for Moore residents already receiving Food and Nutrition Service waivers. The department has not yet received any waivers, but if approved, they will communicate with recipients, said press assistant Summer Tonizzo.
• No FEMA reimbursements: A representative with Moore County said, “There are no reimbursements available from [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] or the State for Individual Assistance since there is not a state or federal declaration,” The News & Observer’s media partner ABC11 reported Tuesday.
• Duke Energy committed $100,000: The money will go toward supporting the Moore community’s needs, Duke Energy announced Tuesday.
• Blue Cross Blue Shield allows early refills: Blue Cross NC is allowing early prescription refills for customers in every municipality within Moore County through Dec. 9.
Blue Cross NC will also donate $25,000 to the American Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina to support sheltering and other essential needs.
• Medicare beneficiaries have a Special Enrollment Period: Medicare beneficiaries impacted by the Moore outage have been granted a Special Enrollment Period to sign up for 2023 changes in their Medicare plans, the NC Department of Insurance announced Thursday. This extended period gives impacted beneficiaries two more months to make changes to their health or prescription drug plan through Feb. 8.
The NC Department of Insurance has also asked licensed insurance companies to defer premium payments for those impacted by the outages, asking for relaxed due dates, extended grace periods, waived late fees and penalties and more.
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