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Depending on your policy, you may actually be able to put your receipts to good use.  

Lauren Wicks
December 11, 2018

You shouldn't be worrying about the food in your kitchen when the power is out, especially if your family is potentially in real danger—which is why many home cooks turn to a simple test that indicates if the food in your fridge is still safe to eat. More frequently than not, you'll discover that your groceries are fine; but in the case of a natural disaster where power has been out for days or weeks, you may chalk up the loss of hundreds of dollars worth of fresh food to sheer misfortune. It turns out that you don't actually have to (figuratively) eat that loss.

Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover food spoilage in one way or another, depending on the type of incident causing the outage and policy coverage you have. Upon investigation, home cooks can ask insurance companies to be reimbursed if they lost power due to a risk covered by their policy, which is often referred to as a "peril." At Allstate, for example, policy holders are eligible for help in replacing lost groceries due to weather-related incidents like a lightning strike, natural disasters, as well as unfortunate events like a fallen tree landing on your house.

Some companies offer policies that cover food spoilage if only your residence is affected by a covered peril—but others only cover lost groceries if an entire neighborhood or surrounding area was affected as well. In the months before winter storms and hurricane season, it might be a good idea to check your policy so you know if and when you'll be eligible for a refund for lost food.

There are a few things you'll need before making a claim, however: keep your receipts handy, as you'll need to file this with your claim, and you may want to take photos of the spoiled groceries before disposing. If you know severe weather is on its way, taking photos and holding onto receipts should be part of your preparation checklist.

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There's a catch, though: coverage limits usually apply in these instances, often only up to $500 per occurrence. You also need to remember that your claim may not be worth filing if it's a small amount given that premiums can increase, or the fact that frequent filings within a 10-year period could lead to a policy cancellation.

You may be surprised to hear that food spoilage can be rolled into larger claims, however—including housing damages due to a hurricane, for example. If you're suffering from serious impact after a natural disaster, groceries may be the last thing on your mind: but insurance providers are here to help put your mind at ease when you make the first trip back to the grocery store.