Risk Management for Lightning Strikes

Lightning damage is a real threat that is often overlooked by business and property owners. A lightning strike on a structure that is not prepared and protected can cause catastrophic damage and loss.

Lightning Season

Thunderstorms and lightning thrive under certain conditions that are common during the spring and summer months. The two essential elements that may cause a thunderstorm to develop are moisture and rapidly rising warm air. This is particularly true in humid areas such as the southeastern United States.

Who is Vulnerable?

All types of businesses and structures are susceptible to lightning damage. There are three main ways that lightning enters buildings: a direct strike, through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, and through the ground.

Lightning losses are more pervasive than realized. Although hurricanes and tornados are associated with severe weather property damage, lightning costs nearly $1 billion annually in losses. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average lightning paid claim is $6,400.

Lightning Myths

While lightning is the most commonly experienced weather hazard in the U.S., myths and misunderstanding about lightning protection continue to persist.

  • Lightning is not deterred by surge arresters, suppressors and “whole-house protectors.”
  • Lightning rods do not attract lightning.
  • Tall trees do not protect structures from lightning strikes.
  • A single lightning rod on a structure will not provide adequate protection.
  • Lightning protection installation is not a do-it-yourself project.

Minimizing Risk

While there are simple measures that can significantly reduce the chances of lightning-related damage, the requirements for proper installation are often complex. There are nationally recognized safety standards for lightning protection installation; trained lightning protection specialists understand the requirements to ensure that the installation complies with established standards.

Beyond the proper physical preparations, it’s crucial for businesses to have adequate coverage in the event of a lightning strike. Business owners should consult with an independent insurance agent about their risks.

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