A power surge that preceded a power outage that affected approximately 2,500 north Redondo Beach residents on Sunday morning caused damage to household electronics, according to comments left by readers on Patch.
The power surge and outage came after a driver crashed a car into a power pole, according to Southern California Edison.
With computers, cable boxes and even dishwashers fried from the surge, many homeowners and renters are now wondering who is responsible for the damage.
According to Vanessa McGrady, an SCE spokeswoman, those affected by the power surge in Redondo Beach need to submit a claim form at SCE.com/claims to be considered for reimbursement.
McGrady said that while SCE generally does not reimburse for damages caused by factors out of the company's control, each claim is thoroughly reviewed.
"Each claim is reviewed and considered on its own merit," McGrady said. "So it just depends on the cause of the outage and what the damage was."
According to SCE's website, the power company is usually not responsible for "losses caused by third parties including vehicles and construction equipment, as well as birds, animals and vegetation that come into contact with our equipment."
Nevertheless, McGrady said that in this case, claims could potentially be routed through the driver's insurance company.
To expedite the process, SCE recommends that those making claims gather all the necessary documentation such as proofs of purchase, repair estimates and invoices.
Unfortunately, claims are denied through SCE or the driver's insurance company, homeowners or renter's insurance policies may not cover the damage.
Mike Herman, an insurance agent with Allstate in Redondo Beach, said that as a general rule, homeowners insurance does not cover power surges unless that surge causes a fire.
"If you have a power surge and it creates a fire ... then you have a fire situation and a fire loss," Herman said. "If you have a short and a fire, then all of a sudden you have what they call an 'insured peril.'"
Herman, who has worked in the insurance industry for 46 years, said that when customers ask him about claiming damages from power surges, he recommends they file a claim with SCE. He warned, however, that Edison will at first try to deny the claim.
"Edison has been pretty receptive years ago ... Nowadays, they try to deny (the claim)," Herman said. "But, in fact, they sometimes come around pretty good on it and make a concession on the appliance or TV or whatever the case may be."
As for other advice, Herman said that taking the necessary precautions to prevent a power surge from damaging electronics is critical.
"I highly recommend a power bar," said Herman.
Surge protectors—which differ from simple power strips in that they protect electronics from power spikes—can be found at most electronics retailers.
For complete details and instructions on how to submit a claim with Southern California Edison, visit SCE.com/claims