Do you live in an area that often experiences electrical storms? Do you know the damage lightning can cause? According to the NFPA, lightning causes $451 million in property damage each year.
Does home insurance cover damage caused by lightning?
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Lightning strikes are the main hazards covered by the standard Homeowners policy, however, it is important to be aware of the nuances, exceptions and limits of each coverage to make the best decision when protecting your home.
While the likelihood of your property being struck by lightning is small, the damage that such an accident can cause is costly. It is advisable to understand under what circumstances your insurance company will step in to help.
We’ll explain how and when you’re covered for lightning damage and what homeowners can do to mitigate damage or mistakes when filing claims.
What kind of damage can lightning do to a house or building?
Lightning is always looking for a way to reach the ground. Unless there is a system that defines this path securely, such as a lightning rod, the lightning will go in search of the nearest available conductor. This may include your home’s electrical system, telephone lines, gas lines, or water pipes.
Lightning can cause the following damage to a building:
- Fire : A fire can start if somewhere lightning comes in contact with flammable material. Including gas pipes, wooden beams, paper, branches and dry leaves from a tree. Also, if lightning strikes electrical wiring, it can overheat and cause those scary pops and pops.
- Side Flashes : Side flashes can injure anyone in a room who is in the path of electrical discharge.
- Structural damage : Lightning can cause cracks in walls, concrete floors, plaster and glass.
- Damage to Appliances : Any appliance connected to an affected circuit can be damaged, including TVs, computers, video games, telephones, washing machines and dishwashers! [looks like a nightmare!!!]
How Home Insurance Covers Lightning Damage
Lightning, as well as fires caused by lightning, are risks covered under almost all home insurance policies. A standard policy must also provide coverage for:
- Dwelling : If lightning strikes the structure of your home, this coverage will help you rebuild or repair what has been damaged.
- Personal Property : Your personal possessions in your home will be covered if they are damaged, including any subsequent fire or smoke damage that may have occurred as a result of lightning.
- Additional living expenses : If your home has become uninhabitable because of lightning and you need to find accommodations elsewhere while your damaged home is repaired or rebuilt, this coverage reimburses your expenses up to the coverage limit. Be sure to keep all receipts to provide to your insurer.
- Other Structures : Coverage applies to any lightning-related loss from prominent structures on your property, including damage to a garage or shed.
Classification of claims related to lightning
In many cases, hazardous weather-related incidents (including natural disasters ) are not covered by insurance, even if lightning does not strike your home, you can still incur damage and it is important to know when you can be reimbursed. Insurers typically classify lightning claims in the following ways:
Lightning enters and passes through your home or other property on its way from the atmosphere to the ground. This is usually the most dangerous of accidents and can have consequences for the construction and for anyone in the way. The damage is usually evident, which does not create challenges to prove the accident.
Lightning strikes close to your home, but does not strike the structure directly and causes minor damage. It may be more difficult for the insurer to determine the cause of damage in these cases. Artificially generated current, such as sparks from power lines or a power company’s transformers, can create damage similar to a near miss, but is typically excluded from homeowners’ policies.
Lightning strikes reasonably close and causes a surge of energy in your area. It is the most difficult claim to prove, and therefore the most difficult refund to obtain.
How to file a claim for damage caused by lightning?
The first thing you should do if your home is struck by lightning is to call the police and fire department so that there is an official record of what happened. If your home is damaged to the point of being uninhabitable, arrange accommodations nearby.
When assessing damage to your home and personal belongings, document as much as possible. Take photos or videos and take an inventory of personal belongings that will need to be replaced.
Be sure to retain any and all receipts for accommodation, transportation and meals so that you can receive reimbursement for the Additional Living Expenses portion of your home insurance policy.
If you need to file a claim for damage from lightning, here’s how it works:
- Contact your home insurance company to file a claim. You will need to provide your personal details and your policy number. It’s important to be as truthful and factual as possible when reporting what happened and provide whatever evidence you have, such as photos and police reports.
- After you file the claim, an expert will inspect the damage to your home. If the cost of repairing your home exceeds your policy deductible, you will have to decide whether to file a claim at all.
- If you choose to file a claim, the expert will offer a repair agreement. Payment usually comes in two parts, minus the deductible, of course. The first payment helps you get started on your home repairs. The second comes in later to cover remaining repairs. A separate payment will also be sent for damage to personal property if it was included as part of your lightning claim.
***Most policies require claims to be filed within 60 days of the incident.***
How to protect yourself and your home from lightning damage
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the number of home insurance claims due to lightning decreased in 2019, but the cost of each claim has gradually increased since 2017. The average cost per reimbursement in case of lightning in the US approaches than $15,000 today.
However, you can invest in some measures to prevent or at least reduce material and bodily damage caused by lightning:
- Install a lightning protection system. If your home is struck by lightning, a lightning protection system will divert its path to the ground rather than the structure and contents of your home.
- Have working smoke detectors, flashlights and fire extinguishers on every floor of your home
- Plug your major appliances and electronics into surge protectors
- If you hear a loud bang, stay indoors and avoid contact with standing water in sinks or bathtubs. Avoid open windows, metal pipes, doors, electrical appliances, and anything that relies on plumbing, like sinks and bathtubs.
- If you are outdoors during a storm, find shelter. Stay away from trees, telephone poles and other tall, conductive structures. Your car can be a great shelter if it’s not convertible or has a hard top.
- Review your home insurance to learn about the protections that your coverages provide you.
Make the best covers for you
It’s not the first (or the last time!) that we’ve talked about the pitfalls of standardized
. Your policy has to be personalized and meet all your needs. So get a detailed quote and choose the coverage that fits your pocket and lifestyle.