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If your power goes out, can you get reimbursed for spoiled food?

Many Central Texans are having to empty their refrigerators after widespread power outages caused by last week's ice storm.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: An earlier version of this story included information about FEMA assistance. However, that assistance is not currently available, so the information has been removed.

Some Austin Energy customers are nearing a week without power following last week's ice storm. Widespread outages have impacted many Central Texans, causing a variety of issues, including spoiled food.

During a power outage, refrigerated or frozen foods may not be safe to eat. The CDC says you should throw out perishable foods – including meat, fish, cut fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk and leftovers – after four hours without power. You should also throw out food with an unusual color, odor or texture, and you should never taste food to determine if it's safe to eat.

If you keep food in a cooler or your fridge with an added cold source, you should regularly check the temperatures of that food and any food above 40 degrees should be thrown out.

But throwing out all that food is a major financial loss. Is there a way to be reimbursed? 

According to a 2020 blog from Insurance Information Institute (III), you may be eligible for reimbursement from your insurance company. III said that insurance companies will usually cover up to $500 of food that spoils from a power outage caused by a covered peril under standard homeowners insurance policies.

However, homeowners insurance deductibles will apply to food spoilage coverage. So, a $500 deductible would mean that the policy would only pay if the policyholder suffered more than $500 in food spoilage losses.

III also said that some insurers offer food spoilage coverage with a separate deductible for an additional premium.

Insured property owners should first file claims through their existing policies before filing to claim any federal assistance. Property owners cannot receive disaster and insurance assistance for the same damages, and doing so would be considered insurance fraud. 

Central Texans who experienced storm-related damages are also encouraged to fill out this survey to report damages to the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

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