Lightning strikes are hot enough to turn sand into glass, so you can be sure they’re capable of causing damage to your home or business. Close to 7 percent of all property and casualty insurance claims in the US are related to lightning strikes.
Usually, home lightning strikes result in either a fire or severe damage to the electrical system.
What to Do After a Lightning Strike
Before doing anything, a home or business struck by lightning should be assessed to make sure it is safe to enter — specifically, ensure there are no “live wires” or downed electrical lines.
Afterwards, the extent of the property damage can be determined. In many cases, the most damage from a lightning strike is to the electrical system and to appliances or electronics that were plugged in at the time of the strike.
This damage is a result of a power surge, a very brief voltage spike that occurs on power, cable, and telephone lines. These surges come and go extremely quickly, but the damage can be significant to your air conditioner, refrigerator, computers, and other electronics plugged in to an outlet.
Making Your Insurance Claim
Filing an insurance claim is almost always a challenge.
Your best option is to have a professional electrician assess the damage to your home and attest to, in writing, the claim that the damage was the result of a power surge from a lightning strike.
Your claim is much more likely to be approved if you:
- Have receipts or records of big-ticket appliances and electronics, such as TVs, washers/dryers, computers, and so on.
- Immediately contact your agent.
- Keep detailed records about how much any repairs cost.
- Keep items that were damaged for some time after the event in case the insurer needs physical proof.
Preventing Future Damage from Lightning
First and foremost, the only sure way to protect your electronics from a power surge is by unplugging them. That’s assuming you’re home during every thunderstorm, which isn’t feasible.
The next best option is to have a professional electrician install a whole home surge protection system, which consists of multiple surge protectors working together to detect the excess current and divert it through the home’s grounding path.