Lightning poses a major risk of property damage to both homeowners and renters by causing fires and power surges that damage electronics. The Insurance Information Institute reported lightning strikes cost $739 million in homeowners insurance losses in 2014, up 9.7 percent from 2013. What's more, the report noted the amount of claims was declining (due to lightning protection technology) and the average cost per claim was rising, as damaged electronics become more expensive.
Whether you're a homeowner or renter, there are steps you can take to prevent your property from being damaged. Here are four ways to protect your home from lightning:
1. Use a home lightning protection system
One of the best ways for homeowners, in particular, to protect their homes from lightning is to install a home lightning protection system. NBC affiliate KXAS-TV in Dallas- Fort Worth, Texas cited research from Underwater Laboratories, which stated a properly installed system is approximately 99 percent effective in preventing lightning damage. Lightning protection systems can include:
According the the Lightning Protection Institute, a lightning protection system is a combination of highly conductive copper and aluminum materials used to provide a low resistance path to safely ground lightning's dangerous electricity. The Lightning Protection Institute also noted that homeowners may receive a credit on their homeowners insurance by installing a lightning protection system.
"Lightning strikes cost $739 million in homeowners insurance losses."
2. Unplug electronics and appliances
In addition to causing structural fires, lightning can damage the electronics in your home. Dan Robinson of Storm Highway explained that lightning can cause power surge damage if it uses your home's electrical wiring system as its primary or secondary path. Robinson noted the electrical surge can damage even non-electrical appliances. An easy step both owners and renters can take to avoid electrical damage is to unplug any electronic devices or appliances in anticipation of a storm.
3. Install transient voltage surge suppressors
There are always going to be times when you're not available to unplug your electronics, such as during a vacation. One way to make sure your electronics are always protected from lightning is to install transient voltage surge protectors. According to Allstate, transient voltage surge protectors are connected to computers and other electronic equipment to limit voltage to 1.5 times the normal voltage.
4. Check your homeowners and renters insurance coverage
Even if you take all the precautionary steps, you will want to make sure your homeowners insurance and renters insurance plans cover damage caused by lightning. Not all insurance plans are the same, so make sure yours will cover damage done to your home and electronics.
It is especially important to make sure you are covered in case of lightning damage if you live in an area that has frequent lightning storms. According to State Farm, the top 10 states for lightning damage insurance claims in 2014 were: Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Florida and Missouri.