UL certification and insurance

Many (most?) of the audiophile power cables do not appear to have UL certification. Does the use of these cables void homeowner's insurance coverage against fire?
You have to check with your insurance provider. Some will accept non-UL and some won't. If they say they will, get it in writing. If the house burns down, and the non-UL power cord causes it, then they will take that to court to try to get out of paying the claim. The rule for dealing with insurance companies is that if you give them a way to get out of paying a claim, they will take it, and leave you flat. They are run by lawyers and accountants, not humanitarians.
They do, it's just they are not readily visible. The UL certification is for the plug and connector, not the whole cord per se. Plugs have to meet basic UL standards (UL 498) for electrical devices. The cord manufacturers do not make the plug/connector - they get them from Hubbell, Bryant, etc. The UL rating is given to the plug/connector manufacturer and not the guy that pieces the cord together. Interesting side bar: if the cord (or any other elecrtical product) is sold in stores or distributed through a dealer network, it has to meet UL/IEEE/NEC requirements for grounding, etc., but no such requirement if sold direct.

Some connectors also have what's called an "IP Suitability Rating" which rates the ability to prevent dirt and moisture (ingress protextion). An IP20 rating is common for plugs. The IP20 rating means that particles of 12.5mm or greater are effectively blocked (the "2") but no water or moisture is blocked (the "0").

Don't worry that cords will cause a fire. That's more easily accomplished by oversized circuit breakers and other audiophile wiring "improvements".
I believe the cord must be submitted to UL for testing and certification. If there is a UL label on the cord then it is certified.
There is no provision in an insurance policy that precludes recovery for an otherwise covered loss solely because a powercord, or for that matter, any other electrical device in the home is not UL listed. Write a letter to your agent requesting an underwriting-certified copy of your policy, send it to him/her via registered mail. Then, once you have the policy, make yourself different than 99% of the population and READ IT.

If a powercord /device in your house caused a fire, and that could be proven with forensic evidence, your insurance company would pay your claim less deductible, then pursue recovery from the manufacturer of that cord/ device.

TWL: What exactly is the source of your information that some will accept non-UL cords and some will not?
Sorry if this is a repeat- I think I screwed up the form the first time, so I re-submitted this.

Here goes (2):

There is no provision in any insurance policy that I have ever seen that even mentions UL listing. The lack of UL listing, homegrown / poorly manufactured equipment, and even prior problems you might have had with a piece of equipment (herein to mean a cable, amp, any piece of gear, your toaster oven, microwave, computer, space heater, or anything else plugged into the wall) WOULD NOT be grounds for the denial of ANY claim that would otherwise be covered under the provisions of your first-party insurance policy. Period. Pay extra atttention to the OTHERWISE BE COVERED part of that last sentence. If you rig a non-UL powercord to burn down your house, for example, this loss would not otherwise be covered and you should be flogged.

IF a faulty widget was found to be the cause of you returning home from work to find a smoking hole in the ground where your house once was, your insurance company would pay your claim less deductible then bring their considerable resources to bear upon the responsible party in an effort to extract restitution. Keep in mind that in such a case, the responsible party is liable only for the depreciated value of damages whereas your homeowner's insurance, if you pay for replacement cost, will still pay out the full replacement value subject to the policy provisions (read the section regarding items that are not in working order at the time of loss, or that by their very nature are inherently irreplaceable). This means you'll never recover your deductible, since your insurance company has paid out a loss on your behalf. Further, your premium may still take at least a temporary hit, and the fire will be included in your rating as a loss for future underwriting decisions. Still way better than having the same smoking hole in the ground and no insurance. When the dust settles, you'll have all new stuff, and you'll be out your deductible.

Don't believe me? Set yourself apart from 99% of the population and send your insurance agent a letter requesting an underwriting-certified copy of your insurance policy, mail that letter registered mail. When you get the policy, read it. Pay attention to things that should matter to most audiophiles such as special limits for certain types of losses to guns, jewelry, numismatic property, software, and artwork. These individual provisions can vary somewhat from company to company. An example from a typical HO-3 Homeowner's policy is below:

SPECIAL LIMITS OF LIABILITY. These limits do not increase the Coverage C limit of liability. The special limit for each numbered category below is the total limit for each loss for all property in that category.

$200 on money, bank notes, bullion, gold other than goldware, silver other than silverware, platinum, coins and medals.
2. $1,000 on securities, accounts, deeds, evidences of debt, letters of credit, notes other than bank notes, manuscripts, personal records, passports, tickets and stamps. This dollar limit applies to these categories regardless of the medium (such as paper or computer software) on which the material exists.
This limit includes the cost to research, replace or restore the information from the lost or damaged material.
3. $1,000 on watercraft, including their trailers, furnishings, equipment and outboard engines or mo-tors.
4. $1,000 on trailers not used with watercraft.
5. $1,000 for loss by theft of jewelry, watches, furs, precious and semi-precious stones.
6. $2,000 for loss by theft of firearms.
7. $2,500 for loss by theft of silverware, silver-plated ware, goldware, gold-plated ware and pewter-ware. This includes flatware, hollowware, tea sets, trays and trophies made of or including silver, gold or pewter.
8. $2,500 on property, on the "residence premises," used at any time or in any manner for any "busi-ness" purpose.
9. $250 on property, away from the "residence premises," used at any time or in any manner for any "business" purpose. However, this limit does not apply to loss to adaptable electronic apparatus as described in Special Limits 10. and 11. below.
10. $1,000 for loss to electronic apparatus, while in or upon a motor vehicle or other motorized land conveyance, if the electronic apparatus is equipped to be operated by power from the electrical system of the vehicle or conveyance while retaining its capability of being operated by other sources of power. Electronic apparatus includes:
a. Accessories or antennas; or
b. Tapes, wires, records, discs or other media;
for use with any electronic apparatus.

Hope that helps.

TWL:Just out of curiousity, what is the source of your information about this? What's the source of your animosity towards insurance companies? Also note that insurance companies, especially when it comes to claims, are not totally run by attorneys and accountants, there are also adjusters, and they're pretty much all big fat jerks. ;^)
Pmkalby, my suggestion to check it out with the insurance provider is not a bad course of action. Perhaps my past experiences with insurance companies has jaded my view of them. Maybe your experiences do not match mine.
TWL and I are exchanging ideas about this via email, but for the record, my lengthy post was not aimed at TWL, but at yet another "insurance myth". No offense to TWL was meant, but my position remains unchanged.

If anyone out there has been told something like "We can't insure you if you don't have UL listed stuff" let's hear about it- please include some details.
UL, the folks that gave us aluminum wiring and stick and stab attachment for duplex outlets....There is no warranty of UL approval in homeowner's policies written in the USA....
Thanks for the great feedback. Pmkalby - you mentioned that the insurance company would go after the manufacturer of the faulty device. What about DIY power cables (other any other electrical device for that matter)? If you build your own cables (using appropriately rated wiring and connectors), do you think you'll have to go to court to protect your claim?

If you build your own cables, and you are the worst craftsman in the world, and they burn down your house, AND the insurance company can prove that fact with forensic evidence beyond reasonable doubt (this is damn tough to do, which is why so many arsons are not prosecuted)--


You wouldn't end up in court-- you are the insured, and it was an accident. If your buddy built you the cables as a gift, he wouldn't end up in court, either. If you bought them from someone with an express or implied warranty of merchantability, or suitability for a given task, that someone is in trouble, and they better have liability insurance.

Things like this happen all the time. People ignorantly splice copper wire into aluminum wire and start fires. People clean their oil furnaces with cigarettes dangling out of their mouths. People put rags soaked with furniture stain in sealed bags. People put 100watt bulbs in recessed light fixtures designed for 40watt bulbs. People paint rooms with highly volatile primers and no ventilation, then get blown out the door in a fireball when they flip off the 1901-vintage light switch. All stupid acts committed by the insured, all covered without much of a second thought, no court, no arbitration. There is no exclusion for stupidity or error under your policy.

Husbands burn down their houses and their wives collect on the policies in domestic violence cases. People put their own roofs on, incorrectly, and insurance pays for the water damage. An accidental fire is almost always covered (I wanted to just say always, not "almost always", but there is never an always)

Make no mistake about it, you will become the source of much laughter round the old water cooler or at a golf tournament or something among adjusters- we laugh at insureds and claimants all the time,it's one of the few redeeming qualities of the job, but the loss will be covered. You might have a tough time getting insurance after the fact, and you will pay more for several years thereafter, too.

With all this hypothetical stuff, we can't lose sight of important facts, however-- If, into the first example, we inject that you were testing powercords that you built, and that you derive some income, however meager, from selling cords like this on Audiogon, then this would be considered a business pursuit. The fact that it is a business pursuit can cause problems for you with standard homeowner's policies and result in exclusion of the part of the premises used for such business pursuit from coverage. So, if you are burning in cables in your garage for Audiogoners at $15 a pop, and your cable burner decides to try its hand at house burning, you may find that your garage, which was being used for a business pursuit, is not covered in the resulting claim.

You know how you'd find out exactly what the limitations of your specific homeowner's policy are? Hmmmm. How would we all find this out... There should be something we could read that would tell us if we had limitations for business pursuits and what exactly those limitations are.... It WOULD be nice to know if business pursuits would limit your recovery for all items or just those used in the business-- if it was just the cable burner at risk, then no big deal, but if it's the cost of the whole garage...

Yes, that's right, I'm telling you to read your policy again. Damn broken record...

Look, insurance policies are contracts. Both sides have conditions and duties. Contrary to popular belief, one of the biggest duties the insurance company has is to act in good faith. They can't hide coverage from you. They have to reply to your correspondence in a reasonable amount of time. They have to tell you why they are or are not paying for something, and they cannot just deny claims without proper investigation, lest they risk a bad faith lawsuit where you could collect not only actual, but punitive damages (recently capped at 9x the actual loss by a court decision). The easiest thing in the world is for an adjuster to pay a claim. Denying them is 10x the work, and if you have a 75% case for denial, often the claim is paid anyhow because the company doesn't want the legal battle or the bad PR. The fact of the matter, however, is that while most everyone has insurance, and is therefore contractually bound to the terms of the insurance contract (that's all a policy is), 99% of people have never read the contract. They don't know what they're supposed to do or what they've purchased. This is not smart. People read disclosures on rental car contracts. They read the odds on lottery tickets, but they pay thousands a year for insurance and don't know what their duties are under the contract and what benefit they get from it.

Believe me, you don't want to be standing in that smoking hole in the ground wondering what coverages you have for all of your stuff and whether the Ebay business you run out of the spare room for fun money is going to mean you only get 3/4 of your claim paid.

I'll get off the soapbox now.