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Lightning damage costs more than $11,000 on average, but you’re usually covered if you have homeowners insurance

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  • Lightning damage to your home is covered under homeowners insurance.
  • However, some insurance carriers don’t cover damage as a result of a power surge from lightning.
  • Consider installing a lightning protection system if you live in areas with frequent lightning strikes.
  • See Insider’s picks for the best homeowners insurance companies.

Thunderstorms produce lightning, and lightning can cause power surges and fire damage to homes. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost of damage to homes due to lightning strikes is $11,971.

Does homeowners insurance cover lightning damage?

Homeowners insurance covers your property from damage, referred to as insurance perils. A peril is an event that may damage your home or belongings, like theft, fire, or a storm. The type of peril coverage you have depends on the type of homeowners insurance you purchased.

Named perils include:

  • Fire or lightning
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Explosion
  • Riots
  • Aircraft
  • Vehicles
  • Smoke
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Falling objects
  • Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
  • Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam
  • Sudden and accidental tearing, cracking, burning, or bulging
  • Freezing
  • Sudden and accidental damage due to short circuiting
  • Volcanic eruption

Source: Data from The Zebra and Lemonade

Although lightning is covered under homeowners insurance, some carriers do not provide protection for power surges caused by lightning. It’s important to speak with your carrier to make sure you’re aware of any exclusions.

Damage to your car that’s caused by lightning will not be covered by homeowners insurance, but it will be covered by comprehensive car insurance.

Floods, earthquakes, government seizures, mudslides, ordinance updates, sewer backups, and sinkholes are all perils that won’t be covered by homeowners insurance, according to Hippo Insurance. Those will require add-on coverage through a rider policy.

Will homeowners insurance cover relocation?

If lightning causes damage to your house that makes it uninhabitable, you could be reimbursed for temporary housing, depending on your homeowners or renters insurance policy.

“Loss of use” coverage, also known as “additional living expenses” or ALE, is included in most homeowners and renters insurance policies and provides reimbursement for temporary housing when a peril causes damage to your property or belongings that makes your home or rental unit inhabitable.

For “loss of use” and “additional living expenses,” much depends on your insurance carrier, and it varies by provider. Some carriers will reimburse you for temporary housing. Others may have a list of housing alternatives.

Ashlee Tilford, managing editor for Insurance.com, told Insider that most homeowners have a misconception of what constitutes “inhabitable.” Don’t assume that your insurance carrier will pay additional living expenses, because the definition of inhabitable varies by company.

If you’re considering leaving your home due to damage, contact your homeowners or renters insurance provider first and take detailed pictures of the damage. Make sure to lock up and secure the premises as well.

States with the most lightning strikes causing home damage

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the following states had the most homeowner claims for damage due to lightning in 2019:

  • Florida
  • Texas
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Alabama
  • Illinois

Bud VanSickle, executive director at Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) told the Insurance Information Institute that lightning damage is a preventable event unlike other natural disasters. He recommends that homeowners use a lightning protection system installed by a professional.

How to submit a claim if your home is damaged by lightning

After experiencing a disaster, Wilson recommends staying in touch with your homeowners insurance company to let them know what’s going on at your home and take the following steps when submitting insurance claims:

  • Contact the insurance carrier to file a claim in a timely manner. For homeowners, your carrier may provide a list of contractors and offer advice on do-it-yourself tips to prevent further damage. If you’re a renter, you should also inform your landlord or property management company.
  • Take pictures of the damage before disposal and cleanup.
  • Beware of price-gouging contractors and door-to-door scammers. Ask contractors for their license and insurance credentials to avoid fraud. If you’re a renter, your landlord is responsible for the building and structure.
  • Prevent further damage to your property.
  • Don’t do something you’re not comfortable with/that doesn’t look safe. Homeowners insurance has a condition to prevent further loss. Focus on a temporary fix instead of something long-term so insurance can properly access a permanent fix by a professional.

Ronda Lee is an associate editor for insurance at Personal Finance Insider covering life, auto, homeowners, and renters insurance for consumers. She is also a licensed attorney who practiced litigation and insurance defense.

More on Homeowners Insurance

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