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This blog post was originally published in September 2017. It has been updated with new information and republished. Enjoy!
Several years ago we were warned about an upcoming, powerful windstorm and wide spread power outage. In the past, we used to roll our eyes at these predictions. Too many Storm Gate 20XX came and went with barely a flutter. We began to take the weather seriously when they predicted 90-degree temps, and we spent a Saturday driving around looking for portable AC units – the city was sold out. We couldn't even find an oscillating fan.
If you live in a state that regularly reaches 90 degrees (or more) temps, you are welcome to make fun of us now. I'm a 75 degree woman, no more.
But back to my story…
When we saw the news of power outages that were expected to last days, my first thought was “Dammit!!! I just stocked up the freezers with food!!!” We had $2,000 worth of raw dog food in our freezers, and although I knew we'd be good for a couple of days, it wasn't going to stay frozen for a week. You're not at risk of food spoilage if the freezer is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder when the power returns, according to my insurance agent.
It's probably a good idea to invest in a digital freezer thermometer that will notify you if your freezer is failing. The following are the highest rated on Amazon.com.
- Digiwize Digital Freezer Thermometer
- Unigear Digital Freezer Thermometer – 2 Pack (I'm ordering this one)
- Wrenwane Digital Freezer Thermometer
- ORIA Digital Freezer Thermometer
We still had time and J ran out to Costco and picked up our kick ass generator (a 7500 watt Champion), and it has earned its keep over the past two years.
When Raw Dog Food Spoils Due to Power Outage
That same year, news of hurricanes, floods, and wild fires resulted in several social media posts about losing food (not by me, this was other raw feeders). How long will raw dog food stay frozen in the event of a power outage? What do I do if all of the food spoils because of a power outage? After the stress and damage of a storm, people also have to pony up a few hundred dollars (or thousand) to replace dog food? Shiznit!
Then the Adult Me took over, and I began to wonder about homeowner's and renter's insurance. Wouldn't insurance cover the loss?
Homeowner's Insurance and Food Spoilage
It turns out that homeowner's insurance may not cover food spoilage so it's important that you contact your agent to see what you can do to add your freezer to your policy. In my research, I found that homeowner's insurance may not cover your freezer losses if…
- the power outage didn't originate on your property – so if the transformer over in Granite Falls fails and we lose power for a week, our insurance may say “not our problem.”
- the power outage was caused by something not covered in your policy – for instance, you may be covered if the power outage is due to a windstorm, but not due to a flood.
- the freezer failed because it's old or crappy – that is something covered under the freezer warranty, not homeowner's insurance.
And it's important to remember that your coverage may require you to pay a deductible. If your deductible is $500 and you lost $600 worth of raw dog food – you'd be better off spending the money on the dog food. Your claim may result in a hike in your insurance rates OR you may not be able to claim a loss if you have another claim in the same year. And if you're strapped for cash, it would suck to have to wait for an insurance reimbursement to restock the freezer.
My insurance company reminded me that if the loss includes several things – we will be able to combine all of our losses (spoiled food, cost of repairs, clean up, etc.) into one claim, making the deducible look like chump change.
Of course, all of this depends on your insurance carrier, so call your agent to make sure you're covered.
Renter's Insurance and Food Spoilage
Renter's insurance seemed to follow the same guidelines for non-coverage as homeowner's insurance. So if you return from vacation to find that your freezer failed, it probably won't be covered by insurance. However, if your freezer failed due to severe storms that took out the power in your town – you may be able to have the food replaced along with other damage to your home.
As I stated above, call your insurance agent to confirm your coverage.
Do You Have to Save Receipts of the Spoiled Food?
Nope. It's not realistic to think that we save receipts and who knows when an agent is going to get out there to confirm that your food is spoiled. Take pictures of everything just in case they ask for evidence. From what I've read, the pictures are all they need; double check with your agent before you take the word of a dog blogger.
Replacing Raw Dog Food on a Budget
If insurance won't cover the loss and you're not flush with funds, here are a few things you can do to stock up your freezer without breaking the bank…
- Post an ad on Craigslist and Facebook for any unwanted meat. Many people will toss freezer burnt meat, but this is fine for our dogs.
- Post an ad in a Facebook group – when a local raw feeder was low on funds and food, I gave her a ton of meat that I was planning to use for bone broth. It was exactly what she needed to get her through to payday.
- Reach out to local butchers, grocery stores, and pet stores (that carry raw) to see if they are discounting any meat that's not spoiled, but they may not want to sell it either. In this case, don't be surprised if you strike out; there may be a liability issue for the store.
The goal is to get your hands on meat that is still in good shape that your dogs can eat.
If none of these options pan out, then get the best quality kibble you can find, add as much fresh food as you can afford OR you can cook food for your dog. This will give you time to stock up your raw freezer again.
Easy Cooked Dog Food Recipe
These are ingredients that you can find at the grocery store. An even better idea is to stock up at an outlet grocery store. The amounts are up to you, this is just what I do.
- 4 lbs ground turkey
- 1 lb chicken gizzards
- 1 lb chicken liver
- 1 lb chicken hearts
- 4 eggs with shells
- 1 can of sardines (optional)
- 1 can of oysters (optional)
- 2 cups (pre-hydrated) Dr. Harvey's Paradigm
Mix the ground turkey, gizzards, liver, hearts, and eggs into your pressure cooker (you can use a slow cooker too, but it'll take longer) and set for 1 hour. When everything is cooked, mix it together and add to a large bowl with hydrated Dr. Harvey's Paradigm (a base mix that adds more nutrients to the diet).
You can add the sardines and oysters to the bowl too or you can add them as part of the meal when feeding your dogs. Whichever floats your boat.
I make this for my dogs from time to time and it's a hit.
Top Rated, Affordable Generators
When we were faced with the chance of losing power for several days, we purchased a portable generator. Not everyone needs a 7500-watt generator. There are plenty of portable generators that are more affordable and will keep your freezers powered when the power is out. The following are the top listed 1000-1999 watt, portable generators available at the time of this post:
- WEN 56200i, 1600 Running Watts/2000 Starting Watts, 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator, CARB Compliant
- Honda EU2000I Super Quiet 2000 Watt Portable Generator with Inverter
- Champion Power Equipment 42436 1200 Watt Multi-Purpose Portable Generator (recommended)
- Allstate: Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Spoiled Food After A Power Outage?
- Insurance.com: Does homeowners insurance kick in when your power is out?
- And my insurance agent.