What should you do if your house is struck by lightning?

Lightning strike on a house

When the storm strikes

One thing a homeowner never wants to deal with is lightning damage to the house.  Because lightning damage can ignite and cause your house to burn, or possibly you’ll only have damage from lightning. Hopefully, if you have lightning damage and insurance that will pay for repairs or replacement.

Ice particles colliding within a cloud and breaking apart is how lightning is formed. Positive charges are acquired by the smaller particles and negative charges are acquired by the larger particles. When the wind updrafts, it pushes the small particles up, charging the cloud with the positive current and the negative charges stay at the bottom. As these two charges separate, it creates a large electric potential inside the cloud and between the cloud and Earth. The discharge between the cloud and the Earth is what we see as lightning.

Where does lightning strike the most?

Because of the atmospheric and humidity creating the perfect condition, the eastern Dominican Republic and northwestern Venezuela have the greatest amount of lightning on earth.  As of 2018, results from studies in America showed that Florida had the most negative flasher per square mile and Texas had the highest flash count. Rounding out the list of the top 5 was Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska in that order. 

Lightning damage has been astonishing and shocking in the United States. Some miracles have been given to somebody or something is struck and of course, there has been lightning damage that resulted in death, destruction, and fires. 

What damage is caused by lightning?

There are 300 kilovolts in a bolt of lightning that can reach a temperature of 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit. With that amount of heat and powered combined, the lightning damage to the human body or a structure can be surmountable. Five ways that the human body can be affected, damaged by lightning are:

  1. A Direct Strike: This is the least common but doesn’t cause just lightning damage, it is the deadliest. This happens when lightning moves through the human body. In a direct strike, the lightning current travels directly through the body. The current of the lightening goes across the skin, burning it. Other sections travel through the cardio and the nervous systems, causing brain and heart damage.
  2. A Side Flash: This kind of lightning strike contacts an object nearby and jumps over to a person close to it. The person is usually seeking shelter from a tree or other tall objects.
  3. A Ground Current: When lightning strikes a tree or other object, and some of the current moves along across the ground, striking a person, it is considered a ground current. This type of lightning is related to most deaths and injuries, as well as lightning damage. It is important to know that it also travels through conductive material like a garage floor.
  4. A Conduction: A conduction lightning strike is lightning traveling through metal wires, plumbing, or other conductive objects, and strikes a human. Lightning is not attracted to metal but is a conductor and as such, happens indoors around doors, windows, and electrical outlets.
  5. The Streamers: These occur when the positive streamers extend up from the ground and the ions that are negatively charged, create a field of electricity across the ground, creating a step leader with lightning strikes. Once this occurs, other streamers discharge. The streamers can come out of the ground, trees, or a human.

Structure wise, lightning damage can consist of the following:

  • Fire: The biggest damaging result of lightning is flammable materials such as wood and other materials that explode easily with exposure to high heat from lightning. The current from lightning can travel through pipelines and wires, burning them up instantly, resulting in lightning damage to property.
  • Power surge: If lightning goes through electrical wiring, the surge is explosive and cause lightning damage to any appliance or electrical item that is plugged in.
  • Shock wave: Destructive shock waves can happen from lightning strikes. Shock wave lightning damage can fracture brick, concrete, and stone chimneys. 

Is lightning DC or AC?

Lightning is an electric discharge that appears as a flash or spark that consists of several consecutive strokes, each following another in the same track, at intervals of a few 100ths of a second. What we see is a phenomenon that lasts on a few seconds consisting of several high magnitude strokes. Hence, lightning is not AC or DC, but an impulse signal or a series of impulse signals.

Is lightning damage covered by insurance?

Yes, unless your policy has it listed as an exclusion. Typically, lightning strikes, any lightning damage or resulting fires are covered as perils without any exclusions. This includes your home or outside structure, like the roof, that is covered within your policy, your personal property such as appliances, electronics, furnishings, and other interior possessions. 

rain on a roof

Can you claim for lightning damage?

Yes, and you should be aware there is a procedure that will take place once you file a claim for lightning damage with your homeowner’s insurance: 

  • A claims adjuster will be required to inspect the damage.
  • If the cost to repair exceeds your deductible, you will need to decide to proceed with the claim.
  • If you proceed with the claim, you will receive a settlement offer for repairs.
  • The settlement is sent in two increments with the first one intended to start repairs and the second for any remaining costs when repairs are complete.  
  • If your home and personal property are both damaged, you will receive a check for each one and a separate check for additional living expenses that you have incurred. 

Lightning can be a beautiful thing to watch – from a distance. During a lightning storm, it always best to unplug your electrical devices, stay away from doors, windows and off the telephone. If you’re outdoors, find a low-lying area, such as a ditch, and not under a tree. If lightning strikes your home in Indianapolis, IN, call Hope Public Adjusters today at 833-312-5246!