4 Ways To Get Money Back After a Power Outage

Frustrated woman sitting at home during a blackout sitting on a couch in the living room at home.
AntonioGuillem / Getty Images/iStockphoto

When the lights come back on after a powerful storm, here’s a bright idea: Get your money back due to losses from the electrical outage.

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While not every scenario will warrant this action, such as if your power was only out for an hour, there are many cases where households have hundreds or even thousands in varied damages over a course of days or weeks. This often happens in hurricane-prone areas or tornado alleys where power may be out for an extended period of time.

According to Energy Sage, losses can total $25 to $25,000 and may include costs associated with spoiled food in the refrigerator, the use of emergency supplies, loss of wages (if you had to take time off), property damage and the cost of any temporary shelter. Here are the ways you can attempt to get money back to cover those losses:

  1. Identify if disaster relief applies to you. If your mayor or governor declares a state of emergency or disaster proclamation for severe storm damage, there may be federal funds through FEMA you can tap into. This may be the case not only for property damage but also for recouping hotel costs if your house was uninhabitable either for safety or accessibility reasons such as your power being out for an extended period of time.
  2. Seek compensation from your utility company. If a storm knocks out your power, many utility companies will automatically issue a payment or credit for the time services were down, if crews weren’t able to restore it in a reasonable amount of time. According to PG&E, that threshold is 48 hours as part of their Safety Net program. It pays $25 to $100 within 60 to 120 days after the outage. The company claims to be able to consult internal records to see who is affected and send out direct payments without the customer needing to take action.
  3. Get reimbursed for unused cable and internet services. If your power was out, that means you weren’t able to turn on your TV and Netflix and chill. Or use your internet for that matter. Call your provider, explain the outage and how long it lasted and ask for partial credit for the days you were not able to use the services.
  4. Recoup costs for all the food that is spoiled in your fridge and freezer. Many homeowner insurance policies will not only cover property damage, but also cover the cost of all the milk, eggs and other perishables in your fridge and freezer that spoiled during the power outage. Per American Family Insurance, the amount you can recoup can be up to $1,000, such as if you just went to the grocery store and stocked up before Mother Nature hit. To file a claim, you’ll need photos and an itemized list of all the foods that were affected as well as an estimated cost.
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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined GOBankingRates.com in 2022, adding to her 15 years in journalism with bylines in Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The A.V. Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her rescue pets and is working on a debut historical fiction novel about WWII. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
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