Make claims to City of Seattle for damage from the power surge

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Areas affected by the power surge
Map from Seattle City Light power outage page

By Diane Hettrick

The last power outage, on Friday, August 19, was unusual in that it was caused by a power line that detached from an insulator and fell across the lower wires.

According to Seattle City Light, "An insulator on a transmission line broke. When it did, the line dropped onto distribution lines below. The energy surge popped breakers, fuses and switches."

Usually our power outages are caused by trees and branches falling on power lines.

This was was also unusual because of the strength of the power surge and the amount of damage in individual homes in the outage area.

Here is some of the damage being reported:
  • a brand new washer, bluray / dvd player, and hot tub control panel
  • our refrigerator and microwave are fried and we had to replace the breaker that controls them. The power surge also destroyed the surge protectors that our electronics were plugged into.
  • washing machine, computer and stereo all are not functioning
  • fried appliances and outlets not working even after checking circuit breaker
  • dishwasher, washing machine, computer, modem, and surge protectors
  • stove, TV, and dishwasher
  • fridge, dimmer switches
  • furnace, surround sound, coffee pot, and a surge protector, although it did its job and saved the computer, printer and modem.
  • washing machine, gfci outlet and a power strip.
  • microwave
  • tower fan
  • the range works great but the oven thinks the door is always open even when it's closed
  • washer, computer and stereo
  • oven doesn't work but the cooktop and clock do (and the oven light is now permanently "on"). 
  • washer, dryer AND dishwasher 

As you can see from the list, the damage is complete for some appliances, and partial for others. If you live in one of the red zones and you own any of these items, it would be prudent to see if they still function before you submit your claim.

City Light refers questions about damages to the claim process webpage for the City of Seattle. The form is online. The form seems geared to vehicle accidents but it is their standard claim for damages form.

Here's the webpage:  The form is on the page and can be printed off.

The form begins with this statement:
If you believe the City is at fault for an incident or accident resulting in loss, injury or damages, you can file a claim requesting payment. Details on the claim filing process, frequently asked questions and links to the Claim for Damages forms are below. If you have additional questions or need interpretation, please call the City's Customer Service Bureau at 206-684-2489.

Customer Service might be able to help if you have specific questions about how to fill out the form. If you call and ask about making a claim, they will just refer you to the website.

Both the City of Shoreline and the City of Lake Forest Park advise citizens to submit the claim form. In all cases, the claimant needs to have proof for the amount they are claiming, such as receipts from repairs or purchase receipts.

My personal advice is that when dealing with a bureaucracy, over-document. Take pictures, and include any document which could have bearing on your claim. If you have an item which can't be repaired and you don't have the purchase receipt, find the item online and submit a photocopy with the serial number / ID info from your item. Get a signed statement from a repairperson. Do whatever you can to answer any questions an adjustor might have.

Consult your insurance agent to see what your homeowner’s policy might cover if your City Light claim is not accepted.


Nanook August 25, 2016 at 11:58 PM  

Of course now they'll raise our electricity rates to pay all of these claims. Grand.

Anonymous,  August 27, 2016 at 7:55 PM  

Folks, spend the money, hire the licensed electrician and get your whole house surge suppressor. It can be done in just a couple of hours.

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