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Blackout Unplugs San Diego Economy

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The San Diego region suffered about $100 million in damages during last week's regional power outage, and many insurance policies don't cover damages homeowners incur during a blackout.

— The regional blackout didn't just shut off lights, computers and televisions. The power outage effectively pulled the plug on businesses all around San Diego County.

National University System's Institute for Policy Research estimated the region lost about $70 million worth of business productivity. Just about everyone lost some perishable food, since the power was off 13 hours.

"Most people when they opened up their fridge come Friday morning, people looked at their milk and probably thought it was a better case to throw it away, along with some other goods that needed to be disposed of," said Erik Bruvold, president of the National University System's Institute for Policy Research. "Those are real economic losses to households."

The report puts regional food losses to homeowners and businesses at $12 to $18 million. Most homeowners policies won't cover that loss. Bruvold says the typical policy excludes coverage for loss linked to widespread power outages.

San Diego Gas and Electric has a claims process for people seeking damages. Their website explains the process, and has claim forms.

"If a blackout happens to just your property - for example, if a tree falls and knocks out your power lines - then it would, however, most likely be covered. However, on a broad blackout, the policy expressly excludes those types of blackouts from coverage," said Mark Sektnan, president of the Association of California Insurance Companies.

The trade group recommends filing a claim with San Diego Gas and Electric, because they might cover losses linked to the blackout. The main exclusions for the San Diego utility are linked to acts of God like earthquakes, fires or storms.

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