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Cleaning up after the derecho: How to get rid of your spoiled food and get reimbursed for it

Before filing an insurance claim for your spoiled food, local agents say make sure it's in your best interest to be filing a claim right now.

PORT BYRON, Illinois — As thousands of people across the Quad Cities remain without power, there are still refrigerators and freezers sealed shut with spoiled food inside them as people clean up the mess after Monday's derecho. 

Local garbage removal company Consume Waste says the best way to clean up the mess is to leave your spoiled food in the freezer, then the night before your neighborhood's removal, gather everything in black, heavy-duty garbage bags.

That's the most effective way for their workers to haul it all away, and to keep your garbage from smelling. 

As for getting reimbursed for your spoiled food, local insurance agent Demond Griffin at Independent Insurance Services Inc. says most homeowner's and renter's insurance policies cover food spoilage. 

He says it also doesn't matter when you bought the food, when filing your claim. 

"No, you're not going to need a receipt, you're just going to need to have an inventory," Griffin says. "Show the sloppy mess and take pictures and that may be all that you need to have."

Depending on the policy, he says the typical pay-out for spoiled food is about $500. But, he adds that it's also important to talk to your agent first and preserve your claims.

"There's a chance if you have too many claims, your rate is gonna go up," Griffin says. 

As for Port Byron Resident Joanne Wiklund, it's more important to her to lock up her freezer and keep her family away from the spoiled food in it until the garbage removal comes.

"(This ice cream) is why I have to label my freezer ('Do Not Eat,')," she says."My youngest grandson and the boys come through here and pop this right open."

She's following Consumer Waste's advice and keeping her spoiled food stored away until her garbage removal next week.

"I don't want smelly groceries to sit here in my garage until next Tuesday," she says.

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