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One of my friends just got hit by a power surge and it damaged a lot of electrical equipment. Could my friend collect compensation to replace the damaged items?

The entire street was also hit in case that is relevant.

The power network is owned by UK power networks.

The cause of the surge is unknown, however it did not happen during a storm making us think that it was not lightning. A few theories are rodents in the transformer or trees causing the lines to touch, both of which would suggest poor maintanance.

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  • What caused the surge, e.g. actions by the supplier or vandalism of a sub-station etc?
    – Rick
    Jan 31 at 11:24
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    Does he have insurance? In many cases that would be your first point of contact. If you're covered they will pay you and then will take whatever action they choose to recover from whoever is at fault.
    – jwh20
    Jan 31 at 11:31
  • I am unsure about the cause of the surge, there was no storm though so it's unlikely to be lightning.
    – verumIgnis
    Jan 31 at 11:40

2 Answers 2

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You either need insurance (mine bought me a new iMac once) or you need someone whose fault the damage is. That may be hard to find.

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  • In particular, the utility company providing electricity does not generally guarantee surge-free power.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 31 at 21:05
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    My computer damage happened 20 years ago, when the phone line was directly connected to the internals of the computer, with lightning hitting the phone lines causing the damage - I was told they had about 200 damaged computers that night. Today, you are likely connected to a modem through Wi-Fi, so worst case your modem will suffer, not the computer. And your computer’s power supply is quite robust against short surges.
    – gnasher729
    Jan 31 at 21:30
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The electricity distributor is responsible for damage caused by the grid

There is long established (30+ years) case law that a power surge or sag is a failure by the distributor to provide a product (electricity) that is “fit for purpose” in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law (which replaced the Trade Practices Act as it was at the time). Their liability is limited by contract to physical damage and not consequential loss - if you don’t back up your data, that’s your problem.

As a result, they hardly ever happen because the low voltage grid is extremely well protected against them.

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    I am in the UK, but thanks
    – verumIgnis
    Feb 1 at 11:46
  • But what if, for example, the power line right next to your house is hit by lightning and that causes that surge?
    – ohwilleke
    Feb 1 at 20:45
  • @ohwilleke the power company pays to replace damaged equipment. This is why they build surge arresters into the meter.
    – Dale M
    Feb 1 at 20:46

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