Few sights are as beautiful as a thunderstorm at night over the wide Texas sky, but nature’s beauty can also be a cause of serious damage for homeowners. In fact, data from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that in 2016, Texas had the most cloud-to-ground lightning flashes in the United States, with 4,066,432 flashes—nearly four times more than Oklahoma, the state with the second-most lightning flashes that year.
Here are some facts about lightning strikes in Texas, including how homes are damaged, what you can do to protect your own home, and how to make an insurance claim if your home is struck in a storm.
How Lightning Strikes Damage a Home
When a storm hits, there are three major paths for a lightning strike to enter a home and cause damage. These paths are:
- Direct strikes on the building can cause the most devastating damage, destroying parts of the structure and starting fires rapidly.
- Electrical wire strikes carry an electrical charge through the power, phone, or cable TV systems of a home, causing thousands of dollars of damage to electronics and appliances.
- Plumbing strikes can carry electricity through home plumbing, causing structural damage, fires, and risk of death by electrocution.
Complicating matters further, a strike or a near-strike can enter via any or all of these paths, causing severe damage to the roof, walls, appliances, electronics, and other personal belongings inside, all in the blink of an eye. Even if the strike doesn’t hit your home directly, a grass or brush fire started by a nearby strike can quickly grow out of control, threatening your home and safety.
How to Protect Your Home From Lightning
There are several ways that homes in areas with a high lightning risk can be protected. One of the most comprehensive ways to protect your home is with a lightning protection system. There are multiple elements to a lightning protection system; some or all of then may be used, depending on your specific needs. You’ll need to work with a licensed electrical contractor—and possibly the power company—to determine what will work best for your structure.
One common element of a lightning protection system involves installing one or more lightning rods on the roof, all connected with conductive wiring and linked to a grounding rod in the earth. This type of system is designed to accept a lightning strike and redirect the electrical energy harmlessly into the ground, and can be very effective at preventing structural damage.
You may also wish to have a “whole-house” or service-line surge protector, which is installed between your power meter and the utility pole. Note that the installation of a lightning protection system is a job for licensed electrical workers, and in some cases, the power company.
Some other ways that you can protect your home and belongings from lightning on the inside include the following tips:
- Use surge protectors on all your electrical outlets.
- Turn off electronic devices when a storm is coming.
- Unplug other electrical appliances such as microwaves and televisions.
While these methods may not stop structural damage in the event of a direct strike, they can save you from thousands of dollars of damage caused by an electrical surge during a storm.
Have a Good Insurance Policy
Whether you own or rent your home, having an insurance policy that covers lightning damage is a must when you live in storm country. Some insurers may even offer discounts if you have a lightning protection system. An insurance policy is your last line of defense against lightning damage, so be sure to read your policy thoroughly to make sure that you have the right coverage, and that your coverage amount will fully compensate you for your losses.
Note that some insurance companies may balk at paying a lightning claim for anything but a direct strike on your home; indirect lightning damage can be difficult to prove, even if it is covered by your policy. You may have to fight with the insurance company to get a fair settlement. If you think that the insurance company is acting in bad faith or is unfairly denying your claim, you should contact an attorney immediately. Your attorney can help you negotiate the claims process and seek the fair compensation that you’re due.
For help with your Texas lightning damage claim, contact the attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP today. We have decades of experience standing up to insurance companies for homeowners, and we’re here to help you with your claim today. Call us by phone, use the live chat box, or send us an email to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation about your situation today.