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Florida Tops the List in Lightning Property Damage Claims: Are You Covered for Power Surges?

| Feb 29, 2016 | Insurance Claims |

Few individuals are aware that a week in June is dedicated to lightning awareness each year. During that week last year, PRNewswire  reported that Florida accounted for more than 10 percent of all lightning claims in the U.S. for 2014 — more than any other state. The good news is that insurance claims for lightning damage are on a downward trend. However, our Broward County property damage lawyers warn that property insurance companies do not always cover all types of damage caused by lightning.

Fires are Just One Result of Lightning Strikes

Direct lightning strikes to buildings often start fires. While fire damage can be devastating, it is covered without question by most property insurance policies. Unfortunately, damage caused by lightning does not stop there.

Whether lightning makes a direct hit to your property, causes a tree to fall on a power line or hits the electric company, it often attacks electrical systems. In many cases, the power fluctuations (known as surges) that accompany a lightning strike often wreak havoc on appliances, televisions, computers, HVAC systems and other electrical devices.

Some damaged items can be repaired. Others are completely destroyed. In either case, the costs mount very quickly. Residential power surge damage averages over $4,000. The costs can be particularly devastating for businesses that rely on electrical equipment to carry out every aspect of their daily operations.

Although power surge coverage is somewhat more common in commercial property insurance policies, residential property owners generally must buy the coverage as an extra option. Still, considering the higher incidence of lightning strike-related damage in this state, Floridians should strongly consider making sure their property insurance policies carry this important coverage.

Power Surge Coverage Has Certain Limitations

Even with insurance coverage in place, victims of power surge-related losses still face certain challenges, such as the following:

  • Inconvenience: Arranging for the repair or replacement of many commonly-used devices takes significant time and effort.
  • Low settlement offers: Electrical devices and equipment are subject to depreciation. Insurance companies may consider depreciation when valuing losses, leaving claimants with significantly lower funds than needed to replace items at current prices.
  • Liability issues: Lightning does not have to strike a property directly to cause power surge damage. Whether lightning causes damage to the power company directly, or if a power line is downed by a tree or telephone pole, insurance companies often deny claims by citing liability on the part of another party.

Property owners can and should reduce the risk by investing in surge protectors, which essentially take the hit before power surges reach valuable electrical appliances and equipment. Buildings can be equipped with these devices at a small fraction of the cost of a single power surge disaster, even if you have to replace them each time they serve their purpose.

In the event of a power surge-related loss, however, never assume that an insurance claim reduction or denial is necessarily valid. To learn if you can benefit by taking further action for a claim, call us at (954) 767-6333 or use our convenient online contact form.