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Lightning Damage Claims and What You Need to Know

Multiple bolts of lightning split the sky.

You might think that filing a claim for property damage due to lightning damage would be a pretty simple, straightforward process. It’s not. Actually, filing an insurance claim for property loss resulting from a lightning strike can potentially be the most complex of claims, and your insurance company may resist covering any damage beyond fire losses.

Here’s what you need to know about lightning strikes and filing an insurance claim for the damage they cause to your home or business.

We live in the Lightning Capital of the USA

Did you know Florida experiences the highest number of lightning strikes each year? Here in Central Florida where our Five Star Claims Adjusting home office is located, we experience about 90 thunderstorm days per year. The peak of the thunderstorm season is in the hottest summer months.

Afternoon thunderstorms are pretty common during the months of July and August, and often on those days we’re thankful for the break from the heat. During these summer months, Brevard County averages between four and six thousand lightning strikes per month. That’s as many as 200 strikes per day, just in Brevard County alone!

Radar image showing lightning strikes in storms over Central Florida.

Six Facts You Didn’t Know About Lightning

Are you an expert on lightning facts? Find out by checking out these facts and tips on lightning safety.

1. How to calculate the distance to a lightning strike.

Do you know how to tell how far away a lightning strike is from you? If your answer is that all you have to do is count the seconds between the flash of lightning and the clap of thunder, you’re only partly right. First, count the number of seconds between the flash and the thunder, and then divide by 5. That’s how many miles you are from the lightning strike. Those strikes are a lot closer than you thought, aren’t they?

2. Lightning can be up to ten miles long.

An average lightning channel can be anywhere between two and ten miles long. This means if you see lightning followed by thunder less than 30 seconds later, you need to get to shelter right away.

3. You attract lightning.

Lightning seeks the path of least resistance from clouds to the ground. This means lightning is attracted to things which are a good conductor of electricity like metal items such as pipes or doors, and trees or people because of how much of our body mass is made up of water, another good conductor of electricity. Stay away from as many good conductors of electricity as you can during a lightning storm.

4. Lightning kills more Floridians on Wednesdays than any other day.

Did you know that more people were killed by lightning strikes in Florida on Wednesdays than on any other day of the week? 71 out of 336 people killed by lightning strikes in Florida were killed on Wednesdays.

5. 2,000 Thunderstorms are happening now.

At any given moment there are about 2,000 thunderstorms happening worldwide.

6. Lightning can strike even when the sky above is clear.

Lightning can precede a storm by 10 miles. So just because you see dark clouds in the distance, don’t be fooled into thinking you’re safe. This is particularly important if you’re in an open area like the beach. Be safe and heed the warnings of the lifeguards. 

Lightning Safety Tips for You and Your Property

As a home or business owner, your loved ones aren’t the only valuables you want to keep safe from lightning storms. Here are five tips for how to protect your family and your property from lightning damage.

1. Avoid Electronic Devices

Avoid electronic devices, especially those plugged into a wall, during a thunderstorm. If the time lapse between the flash of lightning and clap of thunder is less than thirty seconds, shut down and unplug your devices to avoid lightning damage.

2. Surge protectors are no match for lightning.

Unfortunately surge protectors will not protect your devices from a direct lightning strike. These devices are designed to protect your devices from voltage spikes, but they’re no match for the 100 million to 1 billion volts of electricity in a lightning strike. Unplugging your devices is the simplest and safest thing you can do to protect them from a lightning strike.

3. Lightning protection systems protect homes and businesses.

If you’re concerned about lightning damage to your home, consider installing a lightning protection system, which will provide safe paths for lightning to travel to the ground and protect your home from damage before it happens.

4. Remember your pets.

Make sure your animals have access to safe places during thunderstorms and aren’t trapped outside or somewhere they can be injured.

5. Use the 30-30 rule for outdoor activities.

Do not use your swimming pool during a thunderstorm or at any time when you can see lightning and hear thunder. Use the 30-30 rule: if you hear thunder within 30 seconds of seeing lightning, take shelter. Wait 30 minutes before resuming outside activities.

Can You File a Property Insurance Claim for a Lightning Strike?

Yes. In the last three years, Floridians filed more than 250,000 insurance claims for property losses due to lightning damage resulting in more than $2.6 billion paid out on those claims.

Most policies cover damage caused by lightning strikes, especially when the strike caused a fire. Any damage resulting from a fire is considered fire loss, even when it was caused by a lightning strike.

But fire damage isn’t the only kind of damage caused by a lightning strike. Lightning can travel along electrical wiring or metal plumbing, causing damage to electronics or other household items. It can be more difficult to find this kind of damage and report it as part of an insurance claim. It’s possible the claims adjuster your insurance company sends will not even check for damage beyond the fire damage.

Lightning damage can cause house fires.

Identifying All the Damage Done by a Lightning Strike

In order to make sure you identify all damage to your home or business caused by a lightning strike, have a public adjuster examine your property. Five Star Claims Adjusting can send a licensed expert to your property and perform a thorough, 11-point inspection to determine everything and anything that was damaged by a lightning strike.

Our public adjusters are experienced with lightning strike damage and we understand the insurance claims system, so we know exactly what to look for and how to help you get the best result from your insurance claim.

We’re the Lightning Damage Experts

At Five Star Claims Adjusting, we are actively serving multiple clients with property insurance claims due to damage from lightning strikes. Don’t let someone tell you what your property is worth. Call the experts today and get a FREE inspection, FREE policy review and FREE advice.