Protecting Your Electronics - The Art of True Surge Protection

The average American household contains thousands of dollars in electronics and appliances, including televisions, computers, home theaters and sound systems. With the increasing popularity of the smart home, anything in your home that uses electricity can be put on a home network at your command. All the advanced technology and the vast array of gadgets within your home can be destroyed by power surges* in a matter of seconds. Most homeowner policies exclude power surges and electrical arcing**, which leaves you to face replacing expensive electronics that fall victim to these policy limitations. Most renters’, condominium and home insurance policies clearly state that losses to electrical devices or wiring caused by electricity (other than lightning) are not covered. A sudden surge in electrical current is common and not always due to lightning strikes. City blocks have been known to lose power, then experience a power surge in the middle of a clear, sunny day. There are various types of surge-protection devices designed to prevent this from compromising the life span of your electronic equipment, but the hardware is not fool-proof and not designed for every electronic device.

Losing your electronics due to power surge can cause a financial strain. Imagine having to replace three $2,000 televisions that are hooked up to the $5,000 home theater system and two $2,000 laptops, one of which is used to record music in your state of the art $200,000 sound studio and the other monitoring your $20,000 advanced home security system, all of which are now left sizzling after a sudden jolt.

A common misconception about many home, renters and condominium insurance policies is that the limitation only applies to personal property, not to “building property.” Clients are lead to believe that household items, such as a built-in range, burglar alarm system or central heating/AC system are covered by your home insurance. However, this is not true, as the exclusion applies to both the dwelling and personal property. Now, imagine replacing every electronic device that is plugged into outlet from something as simple as an antique lamp to something as complex as an auto lift to maximize garage space.

It is possible to protect yourself against this peril. Companies such as Chubb, Fireman’s Fund and ACE do offer an endorsement to modify their homeowner policy or a completely separate policy, called boiler & machinery/mechanical breakdown. Possessing such insurance can be a tremendous relief for you and your family, if the sudden voltage fries your prized possessions. Just remember that not all policies and endorsements are the same. Some companies offer policies that completely protect your electronics in the event of a surge. Others may still exclude it.

Contact a Swingle Collins & Associates Personal Risk Manager to review your homeowners policy and to be guided through properly protecting your electrical devices.

*Power Surge- an unexpected, temporary, uncontrolled increase in current or voltage in an electrical circuit; a voltage spike; an unexpected and uncontrolled increase in the output power of an engine or motor.

**Electrical Arcing- an electrical breakdown of gas which produces an ongoing plasma discharge, resulting from a current flowing through normally nonconductive media such as air.

Authored by Personal Risk Manager, Ashleigh Cloud