Insurance Coverage for Lightning Damage to Your Home and Personal Property

If your home is struck by a bolt of lightning during an approaching storm, your standard home-insurance policy should cover damage caused by fire. The policy should also cover damage to your home's central air-conditioning system and any electrical appliances or electronics that were plugged into outlets at the time.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, home-insurance claims for property damage caused by fire and lightning involve the most money. Therefore, if you aren't sure about what's covered if lightning strikes your home, the time to get answers to your questions is now, not later.

What can happen if lightning strikes your home?

When lightning strikes, it can run through your home's wiring, cable wires, telephone lines, or even plumbing on its way to the ground. As lightning travels through electrical wiring in the walls, the heat it generates can cause fire. But you may not know immediately that your home is on fire since sometimes fire burns slowly inside your walls.

How do you know whether your home's wiring is safe following a lightning strike?

Even if your house isn't on fire following a lightning strike, call 911 to have the fire department dispatched to your home. The firefighters in your community may be equipped with thermal-imaging cameras to check for fire inside the walls. Afterward, you should have a licensed electrician check the wiring throughout your home for damage.

You may think everything is okay if the power did not go out when lightning struck, but that's not always the case. Whether damage from a lightning strike is minor or more extensive, damage often is random, and it may take weeks before you realize the full extent.

How do you file an insurance claim for lightning damage to your home?

If you have to file a home-insurance claim to cover losses caused by a lightning strike, report the event to your insurer as soon as possible. Keep receipts for related repairs and damaged personal property you replace.

As proof of ownership, you also may need to show the insurance company the original purchase receipts or other documentation—such as your home inventory—for expensive, big-ticket items that you claim were damaged or destroyed. Don't get rid of anything you claim as a loss until an insurance adjuster comes out to assess the damage.

What can you do to prevent lightning from striking your home again?

In the event that you suffer a loss due to a lightning strike, consider installing a lightning protection system to prevent future fires or other damage that lightning can cause. A lightning-protection system includes lightening rods, groundings, and copper or aluminum cables to provide the electric current from lightening with a low-resistance path to the ground.

Since a lighting-protection system helps to protect your home from perils listed in your home insurance policy, you may qualify for a discount on your premium. The amount of the discount varies among insurers. Call companies such as Callis & Associates to see what kinds of discounts they offer.