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Damage caused by lightning strikes is covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy — but gray areas and exceptions may exist, even though lightning is among the primary perils covered by home insurance policies.
While the likelihood of your property getting struck by lightning is slim, it’s important to understand under what circumstances your insurance company will step in to help and how your coverage works if you suffer losses after a thunderstorm.
Home insurance and lightning damage — table of contents:
- Does home insurance cover damage from lightning strikes?
- How to file a claim for lightning damage
- Protecting your home from lightning
Yes, damage incurred by lightning is generally covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Home insurance coverage can provide compensation for your:
- Dwelling: If lightning strikes the structure of your home, this coverage will help you rebuild or repair it.
- Other structures: The coverage applies to any lightning-related loss of detached structures on your property.
- Personal property: Any personal belongings in your home are covered if they sustain damage, including any subsequent fire or smoke damage that may have occurred as a result of lightning.
- Additional living expenses: If you need to find accommodations elsewhere because your home becomes uninhabitable as a result of a lightning strike, this coverage will reimburse you for those expenses up to the coverage limit. Make sure to hold onto any receipts and provide them to your insurer.
In many cases, hazardous weather-related incidents (including natural disasters) aren’t cut and dry in the insurance world — even if lightning doesn’t directly strike your home, your property can still suffer a lot of damage. Insurance companies typically classify lightning claims in one of a few ways:
Lightning strikes the dwelling
An event like this is defined by your home getting struck by a direct hit of lightning, which usually causes severe levels of destruction. Fire and smoke damage often accompany lightning incidents, and bodily harm can also occur if the home is occupied. These claims are easier to prove and collect a payout for because of the direct nature of the source of lightning damage.
Lightning strikes trees on the property
Trees and other structures on your property hit by lightning can also cause a substantial amount of damage. A struck tree is at great risk of falling, and in some cases, can start fires that can blaze through your home. These situations are also covered by your homeowners insurance; your insurance company can help you pay to fix structural damage caused by a fallen tree in addition to any fire and smoke damage that came about as a result. Your insurer can also assist in removing the fallen tree.
Near miss or close call lightning strikes
Your home can still be harmed if any of the surrounding areas are hit by lightning. However, incidents like this can be more challenging to prove to your insurance company because the lightning did not strike your property directly. Damage from these events is typically less severe than those caused by direct hits.
A ground surge can occur when a lightning strike causes a spike in electricity to travel through the area. These claims can also be difficult to prove because the source of damage originated away from your property.
The first thing homeowners should do if their property is hit by lightning is to call the police and fire department so there is an official record of what happened on file. If your home is damaged to an extent that it’s unlivable, arrange accommodations nearby. Make sure to save any and all receipts for lodging, transportation and meals, so you can receive reimbursement under the Additional Living Expenses portion of your homeowners policy.
What to expect when filing a lightning insurance claim
- When you assess the damage to your home and personal belongings, document as much as possible. Take photographs or videos and make an inventory of personal belongings that will need to be replaced.
- Contact your homeowners insurance company to file a claim. You will need to provide details such as your personal information and policy number so that your coverage can be located and activated. It is important to be as truthful and factual as you can, providing the evidence you have — such as photos and police reports — to support your claim.
- A claims adjuster representing your insurance provider will be assigned to your case and they will inspect the lightning damage to corroborate the details of your claim.
- The adjuster will typically offer a monetary settlement for your dwelling in two parts — minus your deductible. The first payout will help you get started on repairing your home. A second settlement will be made out to you later to cover any remaining repairs. A separate check will also be sent regarding damage to personal property if it was included as part of your lightning claim.
Do home insurance premiums increase after a lightning claim?
Yes, your home insurance premium will become pricier if you file a claim and are paid for it — but how much it will increase will greatly depend on the total cost of the claim paid by your insurance company. On average, you can expect your rate to increase by at least 9% after filing a lightning claim.
AVERAGE HOME INSURANCE PREMIUM INCREASES AFTER A LIGHTNING CLAIM
|Number of Claims||Average Annual Premium||Monthly Cost||% Difference|
|1 Lightning Claim||$1,375||$115||9%|
|2 Lightning Claims||$1,404||$117||2%|
|3 Lightning Claims||$1,434||$119||2%|
If your premium has become unaffordable after a lightning-related claim, shopping around and switching insurance companies can save you more money in the long run. The table below displays average rates after a lightning claim from top home insurance companies.
HOME INSURANCE RATES BY COMPANY AFTER A LIGHTNING CLAIM
|Home Insurance Company||Annual Insurance Rate After Lightning Claim||Monthly Rate|
Check out our Guide, The Average Cost of Home Insurance, to learn about how other factors affect average rates.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the number of home insurance claims for lightning damage decreased in 2019, but the cost of those claims has risen incrementally since 2017. In 2019, the average cost per lightning claim in the United States was almost $12,000. Florida and Texas are the most affected states for lightning-related homeowners insurance claims.
There are steps homeowners can take to mitigate property damage and bodily harm from lightning and thunderstorms:
- Install a lightning protection system. If your home is struck by lightning, a lightning protection system will divert its path into the ground, rather than the structure and contents of your home.
- Use UL-listed surge protectors to guard against power surges. Lightning entering your home via power transmission lines and electrical wiring can cause fires and also fry electronic devices. Installing surge protection throughout your home provides a layer of protection as it helps dissipate the harmful effects of electrical surges.
- Stay indoors during a thunderstorm. Avoid open windows, metal piping, doorways, electrical appliances and anything that relies on plumbing, such as sinks and tubs.
- Find shelter if you are caught outside. Stay away from trees, telephone poles and other conductive structures that are vulnerable to lightning bolts. If you do not have a hard-topped vehicle, try to find a low area (like a cave or tunnel) where you can wait out the storm.
Explore more in-depth safety tips in our guide to prepping for a thunderstorm.
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About The Zebra
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