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Freezer Food Spoilage and Home Insurance

Your guide to spoiled food home insurance coverage in Canada.

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What is food spoilage?

In the insurance industry, ‘food spoilage’ refers to food that has gone bad in a freezer that accidentally loses power or has a mechanical breakdown.

Among home insurance policies that cover spoiled food, specifics vary from policy to policy. For example, most policies will only cover freezer food that spoils while some will cover food that’s spoiled in a fridge as well.

Some policies have a coverage limit for food spoilage such as coverage up to $2,000 for spoiled freezer food. Others require that the home insurance deductible be paid before coverage for spoiled food kicks in.

Depending on the provider, a home insurance policy could be without a deductible, but filing a claim for food spoilage is likely to lead to an increase in rate. It’s up to the homeowner to decide on whether it makes financial sense to file a claim for food spoilage.

Is spoiled food covered by home insurance?

If food is spoiled due to a covered peril such fire or wind, food spoilage coverage will be provided under the contents coverage aspect of the policy.

Food spoilage resulting from other forms of damage is typically not covered. For example, coverage is unlikely to be provided for food spoilage if:

  • Power to a freezer is accidentally cut during a renovation
  • A circuit breaker in a home malfunctions and a freezer loses power
  • Power to a freezer is cut off due to an unpaid hydro bill

Coverage will go toward the cost of replacing food as well as the freezer itself. (When food spoils inside a closed freezer, the putrid smells are very difficult to eliminate, often the piece of equipment must be replaced).

In instances when food can be relocated to another facility to be stored, the cost of doing so will also be covered.

Filing spoiled food insurance claims

As with all home insurance policy claims, we recommend that homeowners immediately contact their provider in the event of damage to their home and/or its contents from a covered peril.

While the provider will guide the homeowner through the claims process, it’s likely that photos or videos of the spoiled food and damaged equipment will be requested.

Insurance providers may also request bar codes for each food item and/or receipts in order to gauge the value of the spoiled food.

In this way, filing a claim for food spoilage can be an onerous process. Homeowners must decide whether the loss is significant enough to warrant a claim as well as potentially paying a deductible or having a premium increased.

Frequently asked questions about food spoilage coverage

Learn more about food spoilage coverage.

Does your renters insurance cover your spoiled food loss?

Yes, most tenant insurance policies will cover food spoilage under the contents coverage aspect of the policy. However, as with home insurance policies, food spoilage coverage is only likely to kick in if the damage is caused by a covered peril such as fire, wind or lightning. If food spoils because an old fridge breaks down, coverage won’t be available.

Does your condo insurance cover your spoiled food loss?

Yes, most condo insurance policies cover food spoilage under the contents coverage aspect of the policy. As with home insurance policies, coverage kicks in based on the cause of the power outage. For example, a condo owner will not be eligible for food spoilage coverage if a freezer is accidentally unplugged. On the other hand, if there’s a power outage in the neighbourhood for long enough that food spoils, coverage will be available.

How much is the average reimbursement from home insurance for spoiled food loss in power outage?

Coverage limits for food spoilage vary between policies. Most coverage limits vary between $1,000 and $2,000. Some require that a deductible be paid.

While it’s comforting to receive compensation for food that is spoiled by a covered peril, we recommend that homeowners carefully weigh the pros and cons of filing such a claim since filing a claim can result in a higher premium in the future.

How long is food in fridge can last without power?

Most freezers will keep cool for about 24 hours if they remain closed after power has ceased. Homeowners should avoid eating any previously frozen item if its temperature has reached 4C for four or more hours.

Homeowners should also be aware that meat should only be frozen once. If it thaws due to a power outage, it should not be returned to the freezer once the power is restored.

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