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Most standard homeowners insurance policies cover the replacement of an electrical panel damaged by sudden perils such as fire, lightning, and other covered events. Not all damage is covered, including issues related to poor maintenance, age, and predictable events.
An electrical panel or circuit breaker box protects your home’s wiring. Proper maintenance and upgrades to your home’s electrical system can protect your family in the event of a disaster. To understand what’s covered and what’s not, it’s imperative that you read through your homeowners policy.
Here’s what you need to know about homeowners insurance and electrical panel replacement:
- In what conditions does homeowners insurance cover electrical panel replacement?
- When will homeowners insurance not cover electrical panel replacement?
- What types of electrical panels will insurance not cover?
- The importance of having an up-to-date electric system in your home
- Where to buy homeowners insurance
In what conditions does homeowners insurance cover electrical panel replacement?
Electrical panels are generally covered by homeowners insurance if damage occurs as a result of an unexpected event. Sudden perils covered under your homeowners insurance policy may include:
- A lightning strike
- Snow or ice
In some cases, your electrical panel and system may also be covered from flood water damage if you have a separate flood insurance policy. Check your policy or contact your insurance company to determine eligibility and coverage limits for covered situations.
When will homeowners insurance not cover electrical panel replacement?
While your electrical panels are covered in cases of accidental loss and emergencies, they’re not covered if you fail to maintain your electrical system. Your home’s electrical panel isn’t covered if the damage is the result of faulty wiring or poor installation.
Homeowners with older homes may need to perform significant upgrades to qualify for coverage. That’s because many old homes feature knob-and-tube or aluminum wiring. These antiquated electrical wiring methods are fairly common in homes built before 1980, but they’re now considered major hazards with increased fire risk.
What types of electrical panels will insurance not cover?
If your home is older, you may need to update your electrical system to receive or maintain insurance coverage. Several older electrical panels have been identified by insurance companies as fire hazards and may no longer be covered under standard homeowners insurance policies.
These panels weren’t made for today’s higher electrical demands and are prone to several potential issues, including overheating, improper tripping, and melting, and can cause a shock or fire. They also don’t meet current electrical codes and are generally unsafe in your home.
Typically, these types of panels are found in older homes built between 1950 and 1990. The following electrical panels may not be covered under your current insurance policy:
- Challenger electrical panels (with an HGAF-15 or 20-amp circuit breaker)
- Federal Pacific electrical panels (also known as FPE Stab Lok panels)
- GTE Sylvania electrical panels
- Zinsco electrical panels
In addition to the panels listed above, electrical panels with screw-in fuses present a potential safety hazard. Fuse-based electrical boxes may still be covered under your homeowners policy, but they don’t meet today’s electrical codes and are susceptible to loose connections, dust, and overheating.
The type of electrical panel you need may depend on the size of your home and the number of appliances you need to power. It’s also important to determine what types of panels are covered by your insurance company. Some electrical panel upgrades to consider include:
- 3-5 bullet circuit breaker
- Murray LC002GSU Load Center
- Siemens Talon Panel
- Square D Load Center
Identify the manufacturer listed on your electrical panel or consult a licensed electrician to determine the age and manufacturer of your panel. Any outdated or uninsurable electrical panels and systems should be replaced immediately by a professional electrician to avoid future hazards.
The importance of having an up-to-date electric system in your home
We rely on electricity to power nearly everything in our lives. If you’ve ever experienced a power outage, you understand how helpless we can feel when we don’t have access to electricity to power our lights, kitchen appliances, heating and cooling systems, and other home features.
Being without power is inconvenient, but having an improper electrical system can lead to potential hazards for your house and family. Older electrical panels are susceptible to overload. If your panel is out of code, there’s a good chance your home’s wiring is, too, increasing the risk of fire.
Electrical panels and writing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about home renovations, but keeping your electrical system up to date can protect you from electrical failures and ensuing disasters.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately 13% of U.S. house fires from 2015 to 2019 resulted from an electrical failure or malfunction, causing $1.5 billion in direct property damage annually. Electrical failures and malfunctions also accounted for 12% of injuries and 15% of deaths from house fires during that period.
Inspect your electrical system to ensure it’s up to code and protected against unnecessary hazards. Here are some tell-tale signs you might need to upgrade your electrical panel:
- Your home is over 25 years old.
- The panel is warm to the touch.
- Circuit breakers trip frequently.
- You have a fuse-based electrical panel.
- There are strange noises or smells near the panel or outlets.
Where to buy homeowners insurance
Your electrical system provides the power necessary to run everything in your home, from lighting to the refrigerator and microwave to alarm systems and more. Having a well-maintained electrical panel can help your home run safely and efficiently.
Buying enough home insurance is one of the best ways to protect your home and your family. Coverage of electrical panels and systems can often vary between insurance providers.
The location of your home can also play a role in what’s included in a standard homeowners insurance policy.
In some cases, you may need to purchase additional coverage to ensure your home’s protected adequately. Determine your needs and budget and shop around for the best insurance rates and coverage.