When the topic of home damage comes up, the causes that immediately come to mind are natural disasters such as hurricanes, tropical storms, flooding, and even fires. Most people don’t realize that lightning plays a big role in home damages and corresponding insurance claims. In fact, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year in the United States to complete property repairs that come as a result of lightning damage. (In 2018 alone, the United States had over 77 thousand claims for lightning losses that totaled 900 million dollars.)
With every second that passes, there are close to one hundred lightning strikes that hit all around the world, amounting to approximately 3 billion per year. That being said, lightning damage to homes and properties is a lot more common than what meets the eye, with a higher probability of homeowners everywhere being affected.
Those who own properties in high-risk states such as Florida are not the only ones who should be worried about lightning anymore. As a homeowner, it can never hurt to educate yourself on the different types of lightning damage, how you can prevent it, and what to do when you are affected.
Types Of Lightning Damage
A strike of lightning can affect a home and property in a variety of different ways, depending on how close it gets to any particular area. The level of damage can range from moderate to very severe.
Lightning damage essentially occurs when it strikes an object, and the domino effect begins from there. These objects can be anything from an item in the front yard, to the house itself, or an entire power line. Regardless of what the lightning strike itself is able to reach, there is a significant amount of damages that come with each instance.
There are 5 main types of lightning damage that can be inflicted on surrounding homes, as listed down below.
Building damage occurs when lightning strikes the exterior of the home directly. Since homes consist of many components, there is no telling where exactly the bolt will land. Some examples of building damage caused by lightning include cracked or burned concrete, pathways, walls, and windows.
Power Line Damage
Damage to power lines occurs when the lightning bolt hits any lines or networks of power that are connected to the home. This can include wires above ground that are exposed and more easily accessible but does not exclude underground circuits.
Appliance damage usually comes as a result of a lightning strike on any kind of power line. When the bolt comes in contact with the wires, the energy is routed to any electronic devices that are connected to it. This is especially true for items that are plugged into a circuit that is affected by the lightning.
Here are some electric appliances and devices that can be affected by lightning damage:
- DVD player
- Gaming system
- Lighting fixtures
Trees can also be damaged when they are hit by lightning directly. The result of the impact can be severed branches or a cracked or broken trunk. In the most serious cases, the tree can be knocked down completely. Trees that are oversized or planted in close proximity to the home can actually fall on the exterior and cause a lot of damage there. Depending on the size, weight, location, and impact, you could be dealing with anything from a broken window to a giant hole in the side of your house.
Trees have significant importance when it comes to owning a home that most do not recognize. Overall, trees and plants make a property look more bright and alive – improving the aesthetic of where you live. Some trees also hold history to them, depending on how long they have been there.
It is heartbreaking when ancient trees are destroyed because they can not simply be replaced with something of the same sentimental value. These improvements can also increase the selling value of your property, so getting rid of them is never desirable.
Last but not least, a direct lightning strike can also cause a spark and create a fire. This happens when the bolt comes in contact with a flammable object nearby, such as wood or exposed pipes. The lightning does not necessarily have to come in contact with your property for your home to be affected by the fire that is started, depending on how far the flames travel.
Potential Repairs Needed For Lightning Damage
As you can see, there are a lot of damages that can be caused by a simple strike of lightning. There is no way to prepare for the impact, and also no way to brace yourself for the level of repairs that will be necessary after the fact.
Depending on what is affected by the lightning on your property, there are several tasks that might need to be done, ranging from simple repairs to complete replacements.
Here are some of the potential fixes that you might be in need of after you have experienced lightning damage:
- Window repair/replacement
- Appliance replacement
- Power line repairs
- Exterior repainting
- Exterior/interior restoration
- Tree removal/replacement
- Complete remodel
While the potential damages caused by lightning do range in severity, this does not necessarily mean that any of the above-listed repairs are more desirable, or less expensive, than others. Whether you are left with a shattered window or find yourself needing to hire a group of contractors for a complete restoration of your home, the repairs process does not get any less stressful.
How To Protect Your Home Against Lightning Damage
Lightning is a disaster that cannot be planned for. While it is very unlikely that your home or the surrounding area will be directly struck by lightning and affected, there is always the small change that it could happen. In this instance, you will want to be prepared to do everything that you can to combat these events as much as possible.
Implement surge protectors to guard power lines
When lightning strikes a power line or circuit directly, it does not only affect the wires that it comes in contact with. Instead, the energy will flow through them, all the way to the devices and appliances that are connected to the power source. As a result, these devices will no longer be usable, and will most likely require complete replacement.
To prevent this from happening as much as you can, it is recommended that you install an SPD or Building Entrance Surge Protector. The technology of SPDs are very similar to the average surge protector that you might plug your computer into in order to avoid damages during an influx in power, only this one will protect your entire home.
While there is no guarantee that your home will not be affected by lightning that strikes wires and power cords, you can rest assured that the amount of voltage passing through will be very limited, if not stopped altogether.
Shield appliances by covering them with structures that are non-conductive
If you have any outdoor appliances that are not protected within the walls of your home, you can cover them with structures that will not catch fire or conduct electricity when hit by lightning.
Some outdoor appliances that will require protection include:
- Air conditioners
- Security systems
- Pool equipment
- Satellite equipment
- Outdoor lighting
Although you can add an extra layer of protection on top of these items to prevent lightning damage, these efforts will not always do the job alone. Instead, you should use your SPD in conjunction with non-conductive shelters to hide your appliances from the lightning.
Protect your trees with copper cable systems
As previously explained, trees are a valuable asset to the property value of a home, especially if they have been growing for many years. In order to prevent your trees from becoming deformed, destroyed, or falling down on your home, you can install a copper cable system.
This is basically system of large copper rods and cables that is strapped onto your trees, attracting all of the lightning and shielding the trunk and branches from the impact. When the lightning hits the cable, all of the energy will be re-routed underground into the soil, minimizing the potential damages.
Check your home insurance policy
Fortunately for homeowners, most standard home insurance policies cover both lightning strikes and any sparks or fires that happen as a result. These damages are considered to be “perils” in the eyes of insurance companies, due to the fact that homeowners have no control over when and how these events might occur.
Even though you can almost count on lightning damage being covered by your insurance, it is always beneficial to educate yourself on the details of your policy. Go over the fine print with your agent or advisor and get up to date on everything that your insurance company will pay for. If you feel that you might be at an elevated risk for lightning damage, it would be a good idea to add it to your insurance policy if necessary.
How a Public Adjuster Can Help With Lightning Damage
As a homeowner, you should do everything that you can to protect your home and family from a possible lightning strike. There are plenty of precautions that you can take to ensure the safety of your property and everyone who lives there, but unfortunately, this is not always enough.
Lightning can attack when you least expect it to, leaving you with damages that require expensive repairs and replacements. When all else fails and you find yourself a victim of a lightning strike, you will need to result in filing a claim with your home insurance company.
Based on what your policy covers, you might be able to receive a settlement check from your insurance company that will take care of fixing all damages. The actual process of getting to the closure of the claim is not as easy as it sounds, though.
After paying a premium to the insurance company over the course of several months or years, it would be great to know that they will always have your back in the event of an emergency. At the end of the day, all insurance companies are running a business, meaning that they need to make money, too. As a result, they will never be so quick to hand over a settlement check of the full amount that you need to pick up the pieces.
Even if your policy directly covers lightning damage and it seems like it will be a straight forward transaction, your insurance company will most likely try to take advantage of you if you go for the claims process alone.
There are plenty of tactics that insurers use to confuse homeowners and excuse themselves for offering a low amount or denying a claim overall. Some of these strategies include requesting recorded statements and asking questions that are not necessary, in efforts to get you to say something that contradicts your claim.
The only sure way to get around these obstacles on your way to retrieving your settlement check is to hire a public adjuster. Public adjusters are professionals in the home insurance field and will work with you from point A to point Z. When you first discover the damages, call your public adjuster and have them conduct a walkthrough of your property to assess everything that has happened.
From there, your adjuster will speak for you when communicating with the insurance company. Similar to the services of a lawyer, you will not have to worry about dealing directly with anyone other than the person you hired. Working with a public adjuster can make the stressful time of dealing with lightning damage to your home a breeze. By consulting a professional as soon as you feel the need to file a claim with your insurance company, you can rest assured that you will be receiving everything that you deserve and more.
If you’ve got property damage as a result of lightning and you’re displaced or your life is uprooted because of it, reach out to Bulldog Adjusters to find out how we can help you handle the hassle of your insurance company. Here at Bulldog Adjusters, we work our hardest to make sure that you get the largest possible settlement from your insurance company!