“What’s the difference between a power spike and a power surge? Will my electronic device insurance cover me for either?”

 Did you know that the correct term for a sudden sharp delivery of electricity to a device as the result of lightning is a "power spike", not a "power surge"? Could that difference in semantics affect your laptop or iPhone insurance?

Yes, it could!


Power Surge: It turns out that a "power surge" is a temporary increase in power-line voltage usually 10% to 35% above normal (like an extra 100 kilowatts), lasting from 15 milliseconds up to several minutes.

Surges commonly occur due to -


  • - the use of low-quality power generators
  • - as a wave of sudden power returning after of a black-out
  • - [Sometimes surges are preceded or followed by spikes]


Most good quality surge protectors can handle the occasional day-to-day power surge. Sensitive, expensive electronic equipment and critical use applications still require extra protection. So if you find yourself in charge of the soundboard for a Beyonce` concert or the electronic voting machines of a presidential election; get a professional grade voltage regulator to control all power surges.


Power Spike: In electrical engineering terms; power spikes are intense electrical transients in voltage, current, or transferred energy in an electrical circuit lasting only a few milliseconds and travelling 16.896 million feet per second. Power spikes can contain very high voltages – typically 3000 kilowatts. At that speed and intensity, a spike shoots through the average surge protector long before its resistor has time to melt and stop the current flow.


Spikes are typically caused by: Lightning strikes, Tripped circuit breakers, Short circuits, Power Line Issues


How Does This Affect Your Electronic Device Insurance?: Now that you know the difference between a power spike and a power surge, how does your electronic device insurance address both? While some companies consider the terms interchangeably, others draw clear distinctions. Some companies do like:


Worth Ave.Group: Which currently considers the terms "power surge" and " power spike" to be one and the same. Worth Ave. Group plans cover "power surge due to lightning". Either would be covered as long as the anomaly was caused by lightning.


SquareTrade: Defines which of the two power anomalies is covered and under what specific conditions it is covered. SquareTrade's plans cover "Operational failure resulting from a power surge while properly connected to a surge protector. You may be asked to provide Your surge protector for examination." That language limits coverage to the power surge and only if the device was plugged into a surge protector which then failed to protect it.


ProtectYourBubble: Which covers both..maybe? Its plan states that it covers "Surge Protection damage to Your Device from a power surge or lightning strike, as determined by Us". You would have to ask them what "as determined by Us" means.


So what can you do to protect your electronic devices from power surge and power spike?

Here's what we hope you take away from reading this article.

  1. As our power utility companies warn, no surge protector bought at a local store will save your device from a power spike. So if you hear thunder, unplug your laptops, cell phones, tablet pcs, TVs and gaming systems and shut them down!
  2. if your home electronic device collection is rather significant, get serious and consider buying that professional grade voltage regulator. Maybe it will cost you $100 bucks, but isn't that cheaper than replacing all of your expensive gear?
  3. Finally, when it comes to making an insurance choice for your laptop, cell phone, or another electronic device; follow the advice of your state department of insurance. Read any plan's terms of coverage section on what is covered and what is excluded before you make your decision to buy.