News, Culture & Society

Households warned insurance might not cover freezer full of spoiled food in run-up to Christmas

Thousands of shoppers are believed to be already stocking up on their Christmas food, concerned favourite dishes will not be in stock by the time the festive season rolls around.

Lorry driver shortages have left some supermarket shelves bare with warnings that shoppers might have to miss out on certain delicacies this winter – including Christmas turkey. 

This worry is paired with the ongoing energy crisis, as wholesale gas costs continue to rise, leaving many paying higher bills with concerns there could be outages – although the Government is adamant this won’t happen.

Now households are being advised to check they are covered should the worst happen and there is a power cut, leaving fridges and freezers off for hours at a time and spoiling the stocked up food. 

Households that stocked up on food should check they are covered for fridge-freezer failure

While it is hoped this is an unlikely scenario, consumers should ensure they’re protected just in case – as they could be down hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds, if they have started to prepare for Christmas already.

The festive season is likely to see fridges more fully stocked than usual, especially if you have visiting guests.  

It is also worth pointing out that fridge freezers can pack in, depending on the age of the model – and this may void your potential cover. 

This is Money, with the help of Defaqto, takes a look at how many insurers cover freezer goods as standard and how much those who do are willing to pay out.

How many insurers cover freezers?

In terms of home insurance, cover for loss or damage to frozen and refrigerated food sits within home contents insurance.

Out of the 364 home contents policies, 93 per cent give some amount of cover as standard while 3 per cent make this an optional extra and 4 per cent do not cover frozen food at all.

Policies will normally cover all food in all fridges and freezers, including second ones in the garage or other outbuildings. 

However, models that are over ten years old are often exempt so it is worth double checking both your policy and age of appliance. 

Generally insurers will also allow customers to claim for a new freezer if theirs has stopped working permanently because of accidental damage, such as from a power surge. 

If the freezer has simply broken down with age, on the other hand, you’ll need to replace this yourself, according to Admiral. 

Some policies will provide a temporary hire freezer until yours can be repaired or replaced. 

HOW MANY INSURERS HAVE FREEZER COVER IN THEIR POLICIES
Freezer Cover No. of Policies % of Policies
No cover 15 4%
Optional 11 3%
Standard 338 93%
Source: Defaqto    

How much cover would be given?

While many policies do cover for fridge freezer failure, it can vary, from £100 all the way up to unlimited. 

Customers should understand that beyond a certain limit the cover is meaningless, because you can only have so much food in your fridges and freezers.

Even if your garage freezer is full of steak it is unlikely you are going to have more than £1,000 of food that can be spoiled.

More than one in five policies will cover up to £500 of spoiled food, 32 per cent between £500-£1,000 and two in five more than £1,000, according to Defaqto.  

Cover for damage to frozen and refrigerator food is meant to be for unexpected events, such as equipment failure or flooding, for example.

Therefore, if one of the energy companies has an unexpected problem, or if the National Grid suddenly can’t deliver enough electricity and your freezer goes off you might be covered.

If however, it gets to a point where power companies announce they cannot supply enough electricity and begin scheduled power outages (as happened back in the Three Day Week in the 1970s) then many policies would exclude cover, because they will have exclusions along the lines of:

What’s not covered: Insurer won’t pay for this damage if it’s caused by your power supply being cut off by your energy company.

What isn’t covered: Loss or damage to freezer food caused by a deliberate act, or strikes by the company (or its employees) supplying your power.

We won’t pay: For loss or damage resulting from a deliberate act or neglect by you, or by your electricity provider or their employees or agents.

As long as your energy company didn’t cut off your supply deliberately you will probably be covered.  

Different insurers have different wording though, so people should check their policy wordings just in case.

Cover for frozen food ranges from nothing to over £1,000, depending on your insurer

Cover for frozen food ranges from nothing to over £1,000, depending on your insurer

HOW MUCH COVER YOU CAN GET FOR SPOILED FOOD IN FREEZERS
Freezer Cover No. of Policies % of Policies
No Cover 15 4%
Up to £250 16 4%
£300-£500 65 18%
£750-£1,000 117 32%
Over £1,000 151 41%
Source: Defaqto   

What else is there to consider? 

There are several other things people need to consider should there be a power cut and a fridge-freezer stops working. 

Leave doors closed: Households should also consider if their power goes off then the best thing to do is leave their fridge and freezer alone and keep the doors closed.

This is because they are very well insulated and can stay cool for quite a while without power. With luck the power will come back on before your food defrosts.

Extra cover for big events: It may also be worth taking out extra cover at Christmas time or for other big events, such as weddings, if you will be storing more than normal.  

Non-food items: Most insurers will not pay for non-food items kept in a freezer, such as spirits. 

No need for receipts: Customers will also not need to show receipts as the food will still be there rather stolen. 

Admiral said insurers will usually ask households to give a list of what is spoiled and photographs of the food before it’s disposed and what it would cost you to replace it at today’s prices. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk