You might think that filing a lightning strike insurance claim for property damage would be a pretty simple, straightforward process. Well, I am afraid it’s not.
Actually, filing an insurance claim for property loss resulting from a lightning strike can potentially be the most complex of claims, and your insurance company may resist covering any damage beyond fire losses.
This article aims to discuss how to file a claim for lightning damage or any damage incurred by your home or business and also how to prove to the insurance company that the damage is from a lightning strike.
Types of lightning damage
There are a few different ways lightning can damage your home. Below are some common types of lightning damage and how home insurance can help with each.
1. Lightning Strike to the Home
This is the most straightforward type of lightning strike — the kind that directly hits your home. This can cause fires, roof damage, and power surges. As mentioned, home insurance does cover lightning damage to your home.
2. Close-call or near-miss lightning strikes
Close-call or near-miss strikes don’t directly hit your home or other structures on your property. Near-miss lightning strikes usually cause minimal damage.
It can be hard to prove near-miss strikes to your insurance company since it’s difficult to find the exact cause of damage if it didn’t strike your home directly.
3. Ground surge
Ground surges occur when lightning strikes a specific region, causing an electrical spike that can produce power surges. Because the strike did not immediately impact your property, these types of strikes might be difficult to trace.
You might want to consider adding equipment breakdown coverage to your policy to safeguard your appliances from being fried by various types of power surges. You can add equipment breakdown coverage to your policy as an optional add-on, or endorsement.
It protects your appliances and home systems from a variety of electrical failures, such as ground surges, that aren’t often covered by a standard policy.
4. Lightning strikes to trees
If lightning strikes a tree on your property and it falls on your roof, home insurance can help pay for both the roof damage and the removal of the tree. If it simply falls in your yard, home insurance will likely still pay to remove it since lightning strikes are a covered peril in your policy.
How to make a claim for lightning damage
Below are the steps you should take when filing a claim for lightning damage.
- As evidence, take photos and videos of the damage.
- Prepare to give the insurance company information regarding the property you’re claiming a loss on, such as the approximate value of any damaged possessions.
- To file a claim and obtain coverage for the damage, contact your insurance company. You may be required to pay a deductible before your insurer will cover the rest of the cost, which is the amount you must pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in.
- While you wait for the claims procedure to be finished, make temporary repairs if necessary. Keep any receipts or proof of payment so that your homeowners insurance company will refund you.
- Make sure you’re ready for the claims adjuster. The claims adjuster examines the damage to your home, either in person or remotely, and determines if your insurance will cover the cost of repairs.
- Obtain quotations from local contractors for repairs or rebuilding. If you find that your insurance company’s initial reimbursement offer is too low, having your own quotes from competent contractors can be helpful.
- Recieve the claim payment and get to work on the repairs. If you have a mortgage, the insurance provider will send two checks: one to your lender and one to you. Typically, the lender will place the funds in an escrow account and disburse the funds as the repairs are finished.
How to protect your home from lightning damage.
After lightning damage to your property, you can make a claim with your homeowner’s insurance, but there are certain things you can take to prevent or at least minimize the damage in the first place. If you reside in a location where hurricanes and thunderstorms are common, you should invest in a lightning protection system as well as surge protectors.
Lightning will utilize any accessible path, such as metal plumbing pipes, gas system lines, or electrical wiring if it doesn’t have a specific path to follow.
A lightning protection system establishes a channel that is custom-made for your home’s construction to securely guide lightning bolts into the ground. To save your television, computer, and other important electronics from being fried by a power surge in your home.
Besides protecting your home, you should also take precautions to safeguard yourself from harm. Here are some steps to take in the event of a serious thunderstorm:
- Stay indoors and away from anything that could conduct electricity, including metal surfaces and anything served by gas lines or connected to your plumbing system
- Avoid lying flat on the ground, seeking shelter under trees, and standing near tall, isolated towers such as a telephone pole, as those settings are the most susceptible to lightning strikes
- After the storm, check for fire in rooms above your smoke detectors, and inspect your utility rooms for issues with water, gas, and electricity
Six Facts You Didn’t Know About Lightning
Are you an expert on lightning facts? Find out by checking out these facts and tips on lightning safety.
1. How to calculate the distance to a lightning strike.
Do you know how to tell how far away a lightning strike is from you? If your answer is that all you have to do is count the seconds between the flash of lightning and the clap of thunder, you’re only partly right.
First, count the number of seconds between the flash and the thunder, and then divide by 5. That’s how many miles you are from the lightning strike. Those strikes are a lot closer than you thought, aren’t they?
2. Lightning can be up to ten miles long.
An average lightning channel can be anywhere between two and ten miles long. This means if you see lightning followed by thunder less than 30 seconds later, you need to get to shelter right away.
3. You attract lightning.
Lightning seeks the path of least resistance from clouds to the ground. This means lightning is attracted to things that are good conductors of electricity, like metal items such as pipes or doors, and trees or people, because of how much of our body mass is made up of water, another good conductor of electricity. Stay away from as many good conductors of electricity as you can during a lightning storm.
4. Lightning kills more Floridians on Wednesdays than any other day.
Did you know that more people were killed by lightning strikes in Florida on Wednesdays than on any other day of the week? 71 out of 336 people killed by lightning strikes in Florida were killed on Wednesdays.
5. 2,000 Thunderstorms are happening now.
At any given moment, there are about 2,000 thunderstorms happening worldwide.
6. Lightning can strike even when the sky above is clear.
Lightning can precede a storm by 10 miles. So just because you see dark clouds in the distance, don’t be fooled into thinking you’re safe. This is particularly important if you’re in an open area like the beach. Be safe and heed the warnings of the lifeguards.
Lightning Safety Tips for You and Your Property
As a home or business owner, your loved ones aren’t the only valuables you want to keep safe from lightning storms. Here are five tips for how to protect your family and your property from lightning damage.
1. Avoid Electronic Devices
Avoid electronic devices, especially those plugged into a wall, during a thunderstorm. If the time lapse between the flash of lightning and clap of thunder is less than thirty seconds, shut down and unplug your devices to avoid lightning damage.
2. Surge protectors are no match for lightning.
Unfortunately, surge protectors will not protect your devices from a direct lightning strike. These devices are designed to protect your devices from voltage spikes, but they’re no match for the 100 million to 1 billion volts of electricity in a lightning strike.
Unplugging your devices is the simplest and safest thing you can do to protect them from a lightning strike.
3. Lightning protection systems protect homes and businesses.
If you’re concerned about lightning damage to your home, consider installing a lightning protection system, which will provide safe paths for lightning to travel to the ground and protect your home from damage before it happens.
4. Remember your pets.
Make sure your animals have access to safe places during thunderstorms and aren’t trapped outside or somewhere they can be injured.
5. Use the 30-30 rule for outdoor activities.
Do not use your swimming pool during a thunderstorm or at any time when you can see lightning and hear thunder. Use the 30-30 rule: if you hear thunder within 30 seconds of seeing lightning, take shelter. Wait 30 minutes before resuming outside activities.
Can You File a Property Insurance Claim for a Lightning Strike?
Yes. In the last three years, Floridians filed more than 250,000 insurance claims for property losses due to lightning damage, resulting in more than $2.6 billion paid out on those claims.
Most policies cover damage caused by lightning strikes, especially when the strike caused a fire. Any damage resulting from a fire is considered fire loss, even when it was caused by a lightning strike.
But fire damage isn’t the only kind of damage caused by a lightning strike. Lightning can travel along with electrical wiring or metal plumbing, causing damage to electronics or other household items. It can be more difficult to find an insurance letter for lightning damage as part of the claim.
It’s possible the claims adjuster your insurance company sends will not even check for damage beyond the fire damage.
Identifying All the Damage Done by a Lightning Strike
In order to make sure you identify all the damage to your home or business caused by a lightning strike, have a public adjuster examine your property.
Ask An Adjuster Claims Adjusting can send a licensed expert to your property and perform a thorough, 11-point inspection to determine everything and anything that was damaged by a lightning strike.
Our public adjusters are experienced with lightning strike damage and we understand the insurance claims system, so we know exactly what to look for and how to help you get the best result from your insurance claim.
How homeowners’ insurance protects your home from lightning
Homeowners insurance covers different types of damage caused by lightning, which is typically considered a covered peril on your policy. Below are the different categories of a standard home policy and how each one protects your property from lightning strikes.
Dwelling coverage protects the structure of your home. If your home is struck by lightning and it results in a fire, your dwelling coverage can help pay to rebuild it.
Other structures coverage
Other structures coverage protects detached structures on your property, like a detached garage. This type of coverage will also protect your gazebo, fence, or shed if damaged by lightning strikes.
Personal property coverage
Your personal property is also covered by homeowners’ insurance. If a lightning strike results in a power surge that fries your appliances, like your TV or refrigerator, home insurance can help pay to replace them.
If the power surge leads to spoiled food in your fridge, home insurance may offer a limited amount of coverage for food replacement, too.
Loss of use coverage
Loss of use coverage reimburses you for any additional living expenses if you need to relocate temporarily while repairs are being made to your home.
That includes any extra living expenses you might incur while your home is unlivable, including meals at a restaurant if you have to eat out more, or reimbursement for laundry services if you can’t use your own washing machine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How to Determine How Far Lightning Is?
An easy way to calculate is to count the seconds between seeing the flash of lightning and hearing the sound of thunder and divide it by 5. The result you will get is the distance of lightning in miles. For example, if the interval is 8 seconds between detecting the lightning and hearing the sound of it, then 8/5 = 1.6 miles.
Q. Is a lightning strike covered by insurance?
Fortunately, most lightning, in general, is covered by home insurance.
Q. What is the 30 30 rule for lightning?
Ans: If the time to hear thunder is less than 30 seconds then lightning is near enough to pose a threat. Resume outdoor activities 30 minutes after the storm ends.
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