By Debra Moore
Indian Falls residents are coping with repercussions from a Jan. 28 power outage. “The damage was widespread throughout the neighborhood,” said resident Siobhan Markee in a notification to Plumas News. “Multiple residents report that the power surge destroyed major appliances.”
Markee said in her household alone, they lost a refrigerator/freezer, washing machine, dishwasher, stereo system, two televisions, two Dish receivers, a printer, coffee grinder and approximately 10 power strip surge protectors. “The circuit breakers have all been compromised, and will have to be replaced, as well,” she added.
Markee contacted PGE and was told that the company was investigating the power surge and that those affected can document and file a claim, which may take up to 30 days to process.
“PGE informed us that they will depreciate our items, rather than pay us actual replacement value, and suggested that we contact our insurance companies,” she said.
Plumas News contacted two local insurance companies and found that at least one had received a claim stemming from the Jan. 28 incident. Both insurance companies shared the same information about what to do in such a situation.
They encourage their policyholders to file a claim for replacement with their company since PG&E’s official position is to pay a claim based on the depreciated value of the item(s) lost even if they deem themselves to be at fault. Insurance companies offer full replacement cost coverage, adding that when that coverage is chosen, the insured is responsible for paying any deductible amount written in the policy.
Once a claim has been settled with the policyholder, it’s common for insurance companies to seek reimbursement for the claims they’ve paid. If the insurance company is successful in getting reimbursed, even at the depreciated value, the company will do its best to reimburse insured customers for the cost of their deductible. One company spokesman stated that it “feels strongly that their policyholders should not have any out-of-pocket expense when it comes to unexpected and uncontrollable losses like these.”
Markee reported that she is working with her out-of-town insurance company, and was told basically the same information.
When asked about the incident, a PG&E spokesman said the company is researching the power disruption near Indian Falls/Crescent Mills on Jan. 28. “We evaluate all claims fairly and respond promptly. Our goal is to reach a decision on claims within 30 days of receipt. However, if a complex issue is involved or we need more info, the process might take longer. When our investigation is complete, we either call customers or send a letter explaining our decision. PG&E’s policy is to pay valid claims and we follow California law for resolving claims.”
The spokesman also addressed the relationship with insurance companies: “Customers have the option to submit claims to their insurance company. The insurer may be able to reimburse customers for the losses without an investigation. In some cases, the insurer can pay the replacement value for the damaged items. Your insurer and PG&E can determine responsibility for the damages and agree on the amount due, if any.”
More information is available at www.pge.com/claims
While Markee is hopeful that she and her neighbors will be reimbursed for their lost appliances, that’s not the only issue.
“The hassle of this is beyond inconvenient,” she said. “Paying a depreciated value for our appliances does not account for the expenses PGE inflicted on its Indian Falls customers. It takes valuable time to assess and document the destroyed appliances, as well as shop for them. It also takes time and money to purchase, transport, and install appliances, as well as to transport and dispose of destroyed appliances.”