Thankfully, lightning strikes have become less common than other types of calamities befalling home and commercial property owners such as wind, hail, fire or flood damage. Yet, they do rate highest in terms of property damage expense and therefore insurance claim totals. So it’s still essential to know how to protect yourself, your loved ones and your property.
In North America each year an estimated 17,400 fires are attributed to lightning. Lightning strikes are certainly dangerous to life and property, however the chances of a specific building being hit by lightning are based upon the location, topography and of course thunderstorm frequency. The Empire State Building in New York City holds the annual record being struck on average about 23 times per year.
Total numbers of these claims have fallen year after year since some 85,000 plus reported in 2017. Conversely, the total value of claims increased by 43.3% over the period 2017 through 2022, and the average cost per claim rose 100.1% from 2017. The resulting damage expense is often far more significant than anyone realizes, says Darren Impson, owner of Paul Davis of Tampa, FL. “Delays with supply-chain are also sending appliances and electronics prices higher and overall inflation rates continue to significantly increase claim damage figures.”
According to Impson, “Every lightning strike could start a fire, some are more likely than others to do so. Some flashes contain a continuous flow of electricity, known as a continuing current or “hot lightning.” In such cases, the charge flows continuously over a sustained period of time rather than in intermittent surges. This longer period of charge flow causes the stricken object to heat up and possibly ignite.” Roofs, sidewalls, framing, and electrical wires are the areas most ignited by lightning fires. Severe damage to appliances, electronics, computers and equipment, phone systems, electrical fixtures, and the electrical system of a home adds tremendously to the expense.
Impson suggests that should your home or business suffer lightning, fire and smoke damage promptly taking these eight actions can lower both costs and stress.
Turn off the HVAC units— operating heat or air conditioning will spread smoke throughout interior rooms. Change furnace filters. Secure double layers of cheesecloth over the registers.
Open the windows to ventilate your house or commercial property.
Do not use any electronic appliances until they have been cleaned and checked.
Do not try to wipe or attempt to wash walls, ceiling, or other absorbent surfaces.
Brush or vacuum loose smoke particles from carpets. Avoid walking or tracking on carpets, if possible. Avoid “do it yourself” carpet cleaners.
Empty refrigerators and freezers and prop the doors open if the electricity is off.
Close doors in affected areas to localize smoke odors as much as possible.
Move all pets to a clean environment.
Wash plants with a mild soap and water mix.