Lightning Fires

Damage caused by lightning, such as fire, is covered by standard homeowners and business insurance policies. Some home and business policies provide coverage for power surges that are the direct result of a lightning strike. The optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy also provides coverage for lightning damage.

During 2004 to 2008, U.S. local fire departments responded to an average of 24,600 fires per year that were started by lighting, according to an analysis by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). These fires caused an average of 12 civilian deaths and $407 million in direct property damage per year, according to the NFPA. Home fires accounted for 18 percent of the lightning fires, fires in non-residential structures, including businesses and other non-residential properties accounted for 7 percent; vehicle fires accounted for 1 percent. The remaining 74 percent were in outdoor and unclassified properties.

Georgia had the largest number of homeowner insurance claims for lighting losses in 2012, followed by North Carolina and Pennsylvania, according to the I.I.I.

In recognition of Lightning Safety Awareness Week (June 23-29), consider the following tips from the Lightning Protection Institute and (LPI) and Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) to protect your home or business against lightning.

Have a lightning protection system installed for your home or business.
Be sure the lightning protection system is designed and installed in accordance with accepted industry standards and meets National Fire Protection Association, Lightning Protection Institute and UL requirements.
Include protection for electrical, telephone, cable or satellite TV lines entering the structure.
Make sure all equipment is UL-listed and properly labeled.

Lightning protection systems are designed to protect a structure and provide a specified path to harness and safely ground the super-charged current of the lightning bolt. The system neither attracts nor repels a strike, but receives the strike and routes it harmlessly into the earth, thus discharging the dangerous electrical event. Investment in a lightning protection system will protect your property, belongings and equipment.

Lightning Safety Tips
“If you are outdoors in a thunderstorm, no place is safe,” says Kim Loehr, Director of Communications for the LPI. “If you are outside and hear thunder, seek indoor shelter right away. Most lightning victims are just steps away from safe shelter.”

The Lightning Protection Institute also advises the following:
Seek lower elevation areas.
Never use a tree for shelter.
Immediately get out and away from pools, lakes and other bodies of water.
Stay away from all metallic objects (fences, power lines, poles, etc.)
Do not raise umbrellas or golf clubs above you.
The safest place to be in a storm is in a structure protected with an LPI certified lightning protection system.
Stand clear from windows, doors and electrical appliances. Unplug appliances well before—never never during—the storm.
Avoid contact with piping including sinks, baths and faucets.
Do not use the telephone, except for emergencies. Cellphones are safe to use.
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