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Fire and Lightning Insurance: Prepare for Nature’s Worst

March 14, 2024


Lightning is an electrical discharge caused by imbalances between storm clouds and the ground, or within the clouds themselves. Lightning strikes the United States about 25 million times each year. While most lightning occurs in summertime thunderstorms, it can happen any time of year. Lightning strikes can damage buildings and property in a number of ways that's why you should have lightning insurance. Direct strikes can damage roofs, appliances, and electronic equipment. The intense heat can cause fires. Lightning current traveling through wires, plumbing pipes, and telephone lines can also damage appliances and electronics.

Lightning is an electrical discharge caused by imbalances between storm clouds and the ground, or within the clouds themselves. Lightning strikes the United States about 25 million times each year. While most lightning occurs in summertime thunderstorms, it can happen any time of year. Lightning strikes can damage buildings and property in a number of ways that’s why you should have lightning insurance. Direct strikes can damage roofs, appliances, and electronic equipment. The intense heat can cause fires. Lightning current traveling through wires, plumbing pipes, and telephone lines can also damage appliances and electronics.

Why Get Lightning Insurance?

Lightning strikes can cause extensive property damage, so having lightning insurance is important to protect your home or business. A direct lightning strike can start a fire, blow out windows, damage electronics, and more. Even a nearby strike can lead to power surges that fry appliances and electronics.

The costs to repair lightning damage can add up quickly. For example, a lightning-sparked fire could cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage as it spreads through a home or building. New roofs, siding, flooring, drywall, and other repairs aren’t cheap either. Replacing sophisticated electronics or mechanical equipment can cost tens of thousands alone.

Even if you already have standard home or business insurance, lightning damage may not be fully covered. Most policies limit payouts for electrical or fire damage. Getting a separate lightning insurance policy ensures you have robust coverage for the unique risks posed by lightning strikes. With the frequency of extreme weather events increasing, having lightning insurance is an important part of protecting your property.

Types of Lightning Damage Covered

Lightning can cause various types of damage to your home and property that may be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. This can include:

  • Electrical damage – Lightning can strike power and utility lines leading into your home, surge through electrical wires, and fry appliances and electronics. Damage to wiring, circuits, outlets, and electric devices like TVs, computers, and appliances are often covered.
  • Fire damage – Lightning strikes are the leading natural cause of house fires. If lightning ignites a fire that spreads and burns part of your home, the fire damage will likely be covered. This includes damage from smoke, water, and debris removal.
  • Broken appliances and electronics – Direct lightning strikes or power surges can instantly break or destroy electrical items like appliances, security systems, HVAC systems, and more. Replacement or repair costs are often covered.
  • Structural damage – The intense heat from a lightning-caused fire can crack foundations, melt siding, explode brick or stone exterior walls, and cause other structural damage that would be covered. Lightning current can also damage roofing, siding, and other exterior structures.
  • Emergency expense coverage – If your home is uninhabitable due to lightning damage, insurance may cover temporary living expenses like hotel stays, restaurant meals, and storage costs while you repair your home.
  • Medical expenses – If a member of your household is injured by a lightning strike on your property, medical and funeral expenses connected to the incident may be covered.

Checking your homeowners policy details or speaking with an agent can help clarify what lightning-related damage is specifically covered under your unique policy.

Other Lightning Coverage

In addition to covering damage to your home and belongings, a good lightning insurance policy will provide coverage for other expenses and losses resulting from a lightning strike.

Additional Living Expenses

If a lightning strike causes so much damage that your home becomes uninhabitable, most policies will pay for your family to temporarily live elsewhere. This is referred to as Loss of Use or Additional Living Expenses (ALE) coverage.

ALE will pay for expenses like:

  • Hotel bills
  • Restaurant meals
  • Laundry services

The amount and time duration of ALE coverage can vary, but often policies provide up to 20% of the dwelling coverage for up to 12 months.

Food Spoilage

Lightning can knock out power and ruin the food in freezers and refrigerators. Having food spoilage coverage ensures you will be reimbursed for any food that spoils due to a power outage caused by lightning.

The limit for food spoilage is usually around $500, which should help cover the cost of restocking your fridge. Keep the receipts for any food you throw away to submit to your insurance company.

Landscaping

Lightning can burn landscaping like trees, shrubs, and lawn areas. Many policies provide limited coverage (around $500) for fire or lightning damage to landscaping. Higher limits may be available for additional premium.

Code Upgrades

If lightning severely damages your house, any repairs will have to meet current building code standards, which may require upgrades from the original construction. Lightning insurance will pay for any code upgrades needed after a covered loss, such as improved electrical, plumbing or roofing.

Providing adequate coverage for lightning damage goes beyond just the physical structure. Be sure to get a policy with robust additional coverages to fully protect your home and finances.

Also, Read : Is Hail Damage Covered by Home Insurance?

How Much Lightning Coverage Do You Need?

The amount of lightning insurance coverage you need depends on a few key factors:

  • Value of your home – If you have a more expensive home, you’ll need higher coverage limits to fully cover potential damage costs. Check your home’s rebuild cost to determine adequate coverage.
  • Location – Homes in areas with frequent thunderstorms and lightning strikes require higher coverage. Regions like Florida see much higher claim rates than other states.
  • Type of roof – Roofing materials like asphalt shingles are more prone to lightning damage than metal or rubber roofs. Tile roofs can also crack from lightning strikes. More vulnerable roof types need expanded lightning protection.
  • Other structures – Beyond the main home, factors like having a garage, shed, or detached building can increase your lightning risk and necessary coverage. Make sure to account for all structures.
  • Amount of electronics – Homes filled with expensive electronic devices and appliances require greater coverage in the event of a damaging power surge caused by lightning. Create an inventory to establish enough coverage.

To illustrate costs, lightning damage from a single strike could easily surpass $100,000 in regions with expensive real estate and equipment. A strike could cause fire damage to the roof and attic, electronics damage from power surges, and plumbing repairs from power spikes – all covered by lightning insurance. Comprehensive lightning coverage provides peace of mind.

Getting the Right Lightning Policy

When choosing a lightning insurance policy, you’ll want to look for a few key factors to ensure you get the coverage you need at a price you can afford.

Compare Insurer Options

Not all insurers offer the same lightning coverage or charge the same premiums. Shop around and get quotes from several companies. Look at factors like the amount of lightning coverage offered, deductible options, bundling discounts if you have other policies with the company, customer service reputation, and any additional benefits like lightning safety discounts.

Choose a Deductible

Deductibles for lightning policies often range from about 1-5% of the total insured value. A higher deductible lowers your premium but means you pay more out-of-pocket if you have a claim. Consider your budget and risk tolerance. Areas with frequent lightning storms may warrant a lower deductible.

Consider Bundling

Many insurers offer discounts when you bundle lightning coverage with other policies like home or auto insurance. Bundling can save you 10-15% or more. But make sure the bundled pricing still provides adequate, affordable lightning coverage. Don’t just choose an insurer because of bundling discounts.

Ask About Discounts

Inquire about any discounts for lightning protection systems, storm shelters, surge protectors, or other safety measures. Adding protections can reduce your risk and may lower your premiums.

With diligent shopping and coverage analysis, you can find the right lightning insurance policy for your property and budget.

Lightning Safety Tips

During a thunderstorm, follow these tips to help prevent lightning damage to your home and property:

  • Unplug sensitive electronics like TVs, computers, and game consoles. Surges from lightning can travel through electrical systems and damage devices.
  • Avoid using landline phones, as lightning can travel through phone lines. Use cell phones or cordless phones as safer alternatives if you need to make calls.
  • Draw blinds and shades over windows to protect against flying glass if lightning strikes near your home.
  • Avoid taking showers or baths, as plumbing can conduct electricity.
  • Bring pets indoors to a safe area of your home. Dogs or cats chained outside are at high risk.
  • Move indoor furniture away from windows, which could shatter from a nearby lightning strike.
  • Unplug major appliances like washers, dryers, and ovens.
  • Turn off and unplug TV antennae and cable connections. Lightning easily travels down these cables.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones, electrical equipment, wiring, and plumbing during the storm.
  • If lightning strikes your home, check for structural damage and avoid areas with exposed wiring.
  • Install professional lightning protection systems like lightning rods and grounding to divert strikes from your home.
  • After the storm passes, inspect your property and contact your insurance provider about potential lightning damage.

Filing a Lightning Claim

If your home or business suffers lightning damage, you’ll need to file an insurance claim to recover repair or replacement costs. Here’s what to expect during the claims process:

Document the Damage

Your first step is thoroughly documenting the damage. Take photos and videos showing where the lightning struck, the path it traveled, and all areas impacted. Get written repair estimates from contractors if possible. Compile a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed property. Receipts, owner’s manuals, appraisals, etc can help prove the value of damaged items.

Contact Your Insurer

Notify your insurance company about the claim as soon as possible. Provide details on what was damaged and how. Ask about any claim forms or documentation they require. Your insurer may send an adjuster to inspect the damage.

Work with the Adjuster

The claims adjuster serves as the liaison between you and the insurance company. They will investigate the damage, review your documentation, determine coverage, and authorize payment. Be cooperative in providing any information they request. For extensive damage, you may want to hire a public adjuster to advocate on your behalf.

Get Repairs/Replacement

Once approved, your insurer will issue payment for repairs or replacement of damaged items. You can use these funds to hire contractors to restore your property. Save all receipts and get lien waivers from contractors once work is complete.

Receive Claim Payment

The insurer will issue claim payment once repairs are finished and you’ve submitted all necessary paperwork. Expect multiple checks as materials are purchased and work is completed in stages. Be diligent in following up to ensure you receive the full amount owed.

Filing an accurate, well-documented lightning claim is key to promptly receiving your insurance benefits. Keep your insurer informed and get professional help if the process becomes complicated. With persistence, you can recover from a lightning loss.

Also, Read :  Understanding Home Insurance Inspections: Can You Refuse?

Lightning Protection Systems

Installing lightning protection systems is one of the best ways to safeguard your home or business from lightning damage. Lightning rods and surge protection devices help redirect lightning strikes and dissipate electric current to minimize damage.

Lightning Rods

They also called air terminals, are pointed metal rods installed on the roof that attract lightning to prevent it from striking other parts of the building. Lightning rods intercept lightning strikes and provide a direct path for the current to travel through the system and into the ground. This provides a safe route for the electrical discharge to dissipate into the earth without affecting your electrical systems or starting fires.

It’s crucial that lightning rods are tall enough to be the highest point of contact on the building. Proper installation by a certified professional is key to ensuring the system works effectively.

Surge Protection

Power surges caused by lightning strikes can damage electrical systems and destroy sensitive electronics. Surge protectors and other devices help safeguard your appliances, computers, security systems, and more by limiting excess voltage.

Whole house surge protectors installed at the electrical panel prevent power spikes from entering the home’s wiring. They monitor electrical flow and divert any sudden increases in current to the grounding system.

These contain circuits that block or short large voltage changes before they can reach your equipment.

Using multiple levels of surge protection provides an added layer of safety. Maintaining all surge protectors according to manufacturer guidelines will help keep them functioning properly.

Conclusion

Getting proper lightning insurance coverage is crucial to protecting your home or business from the unpredictable and severe damage that can occur from a lightning strike. As we’ve covered, lightning can lead to fire, electrical surges, property damage, and more – all of which can cost thousands in repairs or replacement costs if you’re uninsured or underinsured.

The key points to remember are:

  • Lightning strikes are common – estimate 25 million strikes per year in the US alone.
  • Understand what perils typical homeowners or business insurance policies cover and don’t cover for lightning damage. Purchase separate lightning or endorsement coverage if needed.
  • Inspect your property regularly and invest in lightning protection systems to mitigate potential damage.
  • Know how much lightning coverage you need for the full value of your property and possessions.
  • Find an insurer that specializes in lightning coverage. Read all policy terms closely.
  • File claims promptly, provide documentation, and work closely with your agent and adjuster.

Don’t take chances with your most valuable assets. Do your homework, install lightning rods and arrestors if possible, and secure the right lightning policy for your needs today.

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