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I'm hoping you can help me. This past Friday we had a short electrical outage. And by short I mean everything went off and right back on right away.  Due to that short outage, it caused a surge big enough that it shorted and fried my computer motherboard. Thus it no longer works. I know enough about electronics to know if the power goes out to unplug anything electrical because when it comes on is when the most potential for damage is going to occur. However this was so brief and sudden there was no time to do anything to prevent it.

I have someone in the family who is a licensed electrician tell me that if a surge protector doesn't protect the item then the surge was over what the surge protector was rated for. Luckily I had stuff unplugged as I was re-arranging my office so it was just my computer I had managed to get in and plugged in. Someone had suggested I talk to the electric company because they may cover the damage to get a new computer if it was their fault.  I am rational enough to know that if it's from a storm or something that was not their fault that I do not expect them to pay. However, there was no storm. And if it was due to an accident or animal it wouldn't have been such a short loss of power.  I am looking for advice on how to handle this to maximize my potential of being able to replace my computer. I do not have the money right now to do so and it would be sometime before I could. Not only am I out the use of it, but some monetary income as I had a side business which I used that computer for. I didn't make much but enough that without it there would be a loss of income as well.

What information should I have on hand to be able to handle what this person might ask for?  I have looked online to find what it would cost for me to replace this computer, compiled what I will loose monetarily if I can't replace the computer right away, and the cost of data retrieval on a hard drive. I do have my family member who is an electrician as a expert witness so to speak. Because of my side business and heavy graphic creation I need a computer that can handle heavy graphics processing.  I know the value of the computer that I have right now is not worth more than probably $60.  But to replace it with something comparable in todays market it will be considerably more than that to replace. Probably more than 12 times that amount!

Is it reasonable to ask just for the replacement of the computer and I would forgo any monetary income loss and the amount that it would cost for data recovery from the hard drive? I'm not out to defraud anyone or to gouge them in anyway of money. I just want my property replaced. If the outage had not occurred, it would still be running right now. My loss is directly related to the loss of electricity for that brief moment.

Also, let's say that it was due to someone digging in the wrong location (which I'm sure it's not) but if it was, could I go after the company or person who may have caused the power outage?

I have checked into my home owner's insurance but unfortunately the deductible is at $2500 so that's not much use to me.

Hope you can help, if not, thanks for reading my question!

Melissa

Answer
Melissa,

I apologize for the slow response.  I have been traveling quite frequently lately and have gotten a little behind in my email.

Unfortunately, your loss is going to be subject to the property deductible of $2,500.  In addition, there is usually a limitation put on personal property that is used for business purposes.  Your computer is more than likely less than that limit.  Add to that the fact that any loss of business income is not payable under your homeowner policy.

You could look to the power company, but my guess is that there is some sort of disclaimer you signed when you set up your account with them.  If not, the time you would invest because of the potential runaround would probably not be worth it.

I would make a couple suggestions for the future when you replace the system.  First, I would recommend adding some sort of Mechanical Breakdown coverage that includes electronics to your policy.  Many companies now offer that as a coverage enhancement and it's relatively inexpensive...usually less than $50.  Another option, since you use your computer for your home based business, too, would be to purchase a Home Business policy.  I don't know what state you are in, but agents who are members of the state affiliate of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) have access to a program from RLI Insurance Company that is designed to cover property and liability exposures from home based businesses.  The policy is subject to a $250 minimum premium if I remember correctly.

I'm sorry I don't have better new for you on this.  Good luck and let me know if you have more questions.  

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Jay K. Williams, AAI, AIP, CIC, CRM

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I can answer questions relating to the following coverages: personal auto; homeowners; commercial auto; commercial liability; commercial property; business income and all other property and casualty coverages.

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I have been in the insurance industry in Florida since 1979. I am currently the president of a Florida domestic insurance company subsidiary. I've taught continuing education classes in Florida and across the country. I am quite familiar with all coverages including Florida Condominium master policies and unit owner policies. I also specialize in agent professional liability. I have been a professional educator since 2001.

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I currently carry the following professional designations: Accredited Advisor in Insurance (AAI) Associate in Insurance Production (AIP) Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) Certified Risk Manager (CRM)

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