Consumers can file a claim with PG&E, but will they get paid?

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With the lights out for almost 600,000 PG&E customers throughout the Bay Area, consumers are wondering what recourse they have for damages or losses directly caused by the power outage. Between spoiled food, surge-damaged electronics (when the electricity comes back), and lost income from not being able to work, what recourse do customers have?

Unfortunately, while anyone can file a claim with PG&E for the monetary value of their losses, PG&E is unlikely to pay up.

Filing is easy. The necessary forms are on the PG&E website and require basic information like your name, what you lost and what it was worth.

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But according to consumer group The Utility Reform Network (TURN), hundreds of customers filed claims against PG&E for damages from last year's wildfires -- and PG&E did not pay a single one. 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney reached out to both PG&E and the California Public Utility Commission to confirm; as of this writing he has yet to hear back.

Ultimately, consumers' best bet may be small claims court.

Businesses might not fare any better. Many will have a "Business Owners Policy" (BOP), a kind of insurance that usually includes business interruption insurance.

RELATED: PG&E blackouts may cost state $2.6 billion

Michael Finney spoke with Onstad Insurance in San Ramon, a long-time, well-respected independent broker. They told him most businesses would not be covered, even if they have a BOP. The insurance kicks in during a covered event, like a storm or when a car hits a pole.

In the case of the PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff, there is no actual "event," just an abundance of caution, and that's not usually covered by a business interruption policy.

For the latest stories about PG&E's Public Safety Power Shutoff go here.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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