Lightning strikes are a common occurrence across the United States, but they can cause some serious damage to homes and properties when they occur. While the number of homeowners insurance claims related to lightning strikes was lower in 2020 compared to 2019, the average cost per claim increased. The total number of lightning-related claims for 2019 was 76,860, with an average cost per claim of $11,971. On the other hand, there were 71,551 lightning-related claims filed in 2020, but the average cost per claim increased to $28,885, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I).

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Lightning strikes can damage your home’s structure, and can also damage the electrical unit powering your home and its contents. Lightning strikes may also cause damage to surrounding structures, like trees or poles, which can cause even more damage to your home if it’s in the path of the strike. Luckily, having the right homeowners insurance protection in place may protect your finances by helping to pay for repairs to your home if lightning causes damage to it during a covered event.

Does homeowners insurance cover lightning strikes?

Most homeowners insurance policies cover damage caused by lightning strikes. Under a standard homeowners insurance policy, your dwelling coverage will pay for any damages done to your home’s actual structure.

Additionally, standard homeowners insurance policies cover damages to your property, such as a mailbox, deck, and electrical systems. Your property insurer would help cover the repair costs up to your policy’s coverage limits. A standard homeowners insurance policy also includes loss of use coverage, which would pay for any additional living expenses when your home is under repair from a covered claim.

The good news is that since these are all covered under a standard homeowners policy, you generally do not need to purchase any additional coverage for lightning strikes.

How insurers classify lightning damage

Insurers have several ways to classify lightning damage, which is damage caused by naturally-occurring atmospheric generated electricity. Generally, lightning damage falls into one of three categories:

  • Lightning strike: If lightning passes from the atmosphere to your home, it is considered a lightning strike. A direct lightning strike usually causes the most damage to your property because it can cause fires, charring, cracks in property, and damage to your home’s contents.
  • Near miss: A near miss lightning strike is when the lightning strikes near your property but does not hit it directly.
  • Ground surge: A ground surge is when lightning strikes the ground and causes an electricity spike in any area surrounding the home. Ground surges are common but can be difficult to prove as insurance companies will want to see the evidence the ground surge occurred.

Filing a claim for a lightning strike

If a lightning strike hits your home or property, you should be able to file a claim. However, it will depend on how your property insurer will assess the lightning damage. Each insurance carrier is different in how lightning damage is assessed. Here are a few ways you can file a claim for a lightning strike:

  1. Assess the damage: Once you feel that lightning has struck your home or around your home, identify where the damage has taken place when it is safe to do so. Once you have identified the damaged areas, take photos and write down the details of the lightning strike and damage done, including the time and date.
  2. File a claim: Each homeowners insurance company has its own claims process. Many insurers will allow you to file a claim online, through your account or by calling your agent or insurance company.
  3. Adjuster will come to your home: After a claim is filed, your insurer will send a claims adjuster to your home to assess the damage. The adjuster will ask you questions and take photos and notes of the damage.
  4. Receive your claims payment: You will receive a payment from your insurance company after your claim is processed. If you receive a payment in increments, the first payment will be for you to start the repairs, and the second will be once the repairs are completed. If you receive a settlement, you can either accept the check or dispute the amount by reopening the claim.

How do I protect my home from lightning damage?

As a homeowner, you want to protect the investment you’ve made into your home. There are several ways to protect your home from lightning damage, including:

  1. Make sure your smoke detectors work. Lightning strikes can cause fires, which is a danger to you and your home. Check your smoke detectors regularly and change the batteries when they’re low to ensure that your smoke detectors are working at all times.
  2. Unplug electronics before a storm. Unplugging electronics can be dangerous during a thunderstorm. However, unplugging them prior to a storm can prevent a potential electrical surge that could harm your electronics.
  3. Get a surge protector. A surge protector may protect your electronics during a lightning storm. Surge protectors are available for both your electronics and for your whole house. If you want to protect your entire home, the surge protector is typically wired directly into the main electrical panel.
  4. Have a fire extinguisher handy. If a lightning strike causes a fire, a fire extinguisher will come in handy to help minimize or prevent damage to your home and property.

Whenever a storm with lightning is present, it is also best to stay indoors to keep yourself safe.

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