Does homeowners insurance cover lightning strikes?

A standard homeowners insurance policy covers lightning strikes and the damage they incur, including house fires and power surges.

Headshot of Kara McGinley

By

Kara McGinleyKara McGinleySenior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance ExpertKara McGinley is a former senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she specialized in homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Forbes Advisor, Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

Edited by

Jennifer GimbelJennifer GimbelSenior Managing Editor & Home Insurance ExpertJennifer Gimbel is a senior managing editor and home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our homeowners insurance coverage. Previously, she was the managing editor at Finder.com and a content strategist at Babble.com.
Expert reviewedExpert reviewedThis article has been reviewed by a licensed Policygenius expert to ensure that sources, statistics, and claims meet our standard for accurate and unbiased advice.Learn more about oureditorial review process.

By

Britta M. MossBritta M. MossProperty & casualty claim consultant and expert witnessBritta M. Moss, CPCU, SCLA, AIC-M, has over 25 years of insurance industry experience. In her work as a property and casualty claim consultant, she provides consultation and expert witness services in claim handling standards, practices, and norms.  She has been retained by law firms representing plaintiffs and those representing insurer defendants involved in disputes or litigation regarding coverage analysis, investigation, liability determination, damage evaluation, negotiation and settlement.  She is a graduate of The Ohio State University. 

Updated|2 min read

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

Lightning damage resulted in over $1 billion in insured losses in 2021 alone, according to the Insurance Information Institute. [1] Why is damage caused by lightning strikes so expensive? For one, they can lead to costly house fires that require full rebuilds. And secondly, lightning-caused power surges that fry appliances are becoming more expensive due to delays in supply chains that have raised the cost of replacing these items. Fortunately, your home insurance policy should cover lightning strike damage.

Does homeowners insurance cover lightning strikes?

Home insurance covers lightning strike damage to your home, belongings, and other structures on your property. So if lightning strikes your house and it catches fire, your home insurance would cover the cost of repairs. Damage to your personal property will also be covered, like if the lightning causes a power surge that fries your television.

Here’s how your home and belongings are covered against lightning damage:

  • Dwelling coverage: Protects the structure of your home from lightning strikes, including if lightning strikes a tree on your property that then falls on your home.

  • Other structures coverage: Protects detached structures on your property, like a garage, gazebo, fence, or shed, from lightning damage.

  • Personal property coverage: Protects your belongings from lightning strike damage, including if lightning causes a fire that destroys your things or a power surge that fries your appliances.

  • Loss of use coverage: Reimburses you for hotel stays, restaurant meals, and other additional living expenses if you need to relocate temporarily while repairs are being made to your home due to lightning. 

Shop for home insurance with lightning strike coverage

Start calculator

How do home insurance companies classify lightning damage?

Home insurance companies place lightning damage in three different categories, depending on the severity of the strike and how it damages your home:

  • Lightning strike: A direct lightning strike to your home or trees on your property can cause the most damage, including fire, roof damage, and power surges.

  • Near miss: Near miss strikes don’t directly hit your home or other structures on your property, and typically only cause minimal damage. It can be hard to prove near miss strikes to your insurance company, since it’s difficult to find the exact cause of damage if it didn’t strike your home directly. 

  • Ground surge: Ground surges are when lightning strikes cause an electrical spike in a specific area and can lead to power surges. Again, these types of strikes can be difficult to pinpoint since it didn’t directly hit your property. 

Values logo

Pro tip: Get equipment breakdown coverage if you live in an area at high risk of lightning strikes

To protect your appliances from getting fried by different causes of power surge, you may want to consider adding equipment breakdown coverage to your policy. Equipment breakdown coverage is an optional policy endorsement that you can add to your home insurance for extra coverage. It provides protection to your appliances and household systems from different types of electrical failure, like ground surges, that may not always be covered by a base policy.  

Top 10 states with the most lightning damage claims

Homeowners in Florida filed the most lightning damage claims in 2021, according to the Insurance Information Institute. [2] However, California had the most expensive lightning damage claims, totaling an estimated $522.6 million in insured losses in 2021.

Here are the top 10 states with the most lightning damage claims:

State

Number of lightning claims

Total insured losses

Florida

5,339

$88.3 million

Texas

4,490

$95.2 million

Georgia

3,817

$43.8 million

California

3,381

$522.6 million

New York

2,426

$45.1 million

Pennsylvania

2,410

$34 million

North Carolina

2,377

$36.8 million

Louisiana

2,372

$28 million

Alabama

2,276

$29.3 million

Collapse table

Should I file a lightning damage claim?

It depends on how much the damage would cost to fix out of pocket — especially if you have a high deductible and healthy savings account. This is because any time you file a home insurance claim, you run the risk of higher rates when you go to renew your policy. So if you have the financial means to pay for minimal damage to your home or belongings yourself, you might want to consider it.

Here’s a look at how much average annual rates change with a few popular insurers for homeowners who have a clean record versus have filed one claim:

Company

No claim

One claim

AAA

$1,930

$2,147

Allstate

$1,717

$1,930

Auto-Owners

$1,561

$1,659

State Farm

$1,935

$2,132

USAA

$1,547

$1,634

Shop for home insurance with lightning strike coverage

Start calculator

How to file a claim for lightning strike damage

If you do decide to file a claim for damage caused by a lightning strike, here are a few steps to take:

  1. Document the damage. This includes taking photos and videos of the damage as evidence.

  2. Contact your insurance company. Be prepared to supply your insurance company with information about the property you’re claiming a loss on, including your policy number and details about what was damaged. 

  3. Make temporary repairs. Your insurer will pay for any reasonable repairs you need to make immediately to keep damage from getting worse while you wait for the claims process to be completed. Save any receipts or evidence of payment so you can be reimbursed by your insurer.

  4. Prepare for the claims adjuster. The claims adjuster inspects the damage to your home, either in person or remotely, and evaluates whether or not your policy will cover the cost of repairs.

  5. Get repair estimates from contractors in your area. Having your own estimates can be useful for comparison with your insurance company's estimate to ensure that all damages are accounted for by both your contractor and insurer.

  6. Receive the claim payout and make repairs. If you’re paying your home insurance through an escrow account, your insurer will likely send payments to your lender to release as the repairs are completed. For larger losses, the insurer will likely make an actual cash value payment initially, and then as repairs are completed, reimburse the remainder — up to the replacement cost.

How to protect your home from lightning strikes and damage

Here are a few ways to prevent lightning strikes or minimize damage caused by them. These are highly recommended for homeowners who live in Florida, Texas, and other areas prone to hurricanes and thunderstorms.

  • Unplug your electronics ahead of a storm. Since lightning strikes are drawn to electric wiring, unplugging any electronics and appliances will prevent power surges that can fry your devices.

  • Make sure you have a fire extinguisher. Lightning strikes can cause a house fire, so having a fire extinguisher on-hand can help prevent damage to your home and belongings. 

  • Check your smoke detector regularly. This includes switching out batteries when they’re low — you should hear a beeping noise when this occurs, but don’t rely on that. 

  • Install a lightning protection system. When lightning doesn’t have a specified path to follow, it’ll use any available path such as metal plumbing pipes, gas system lines, or electrical wiring. A lightning protection system creates a pathway specifically designed to your home’s architecture to guide the bolts safely into the ground.

  • Invest in surge protector devices. To prevent a power surge from frying your television, computer, and other valuable devices inside your home, you can install a surge protection device to protect them from a voltage surge.

Tips to stay safe during a lightning and thunderstorm

Besides protecting your home, you should also take precautions to safeguard yourself from harm. Here are some steps to take in the event of a serious thunderstorm:

  • Stay indoors. And away from anything that could conduct electricity, including metal surfaces and anything served by gas lines or connected to your plumbing system.

  • Avoid seeking shelter under trees. Or lying flat on the ground or standing near tall, isolated towers — such as telephone poles — as these settings are the most susceptible to lightning strikes.

  • Survey your home after the storm. After the storm, check for fire in rooms above your smoke detectors, and inspect your utility rooms for issues with water, gas, and electricity.

Shop for home insurance with lightning strike coverage

Start calculator

Frequently asked questions

Does car insurance cover lightning strikes?

If your car insurance contains comprehensive coverage, then your car is protected against lightning strikes. Comprehensive coverage is optional and protects your vehicle against weather-related damage and theft.

What things should I check after a lightning strike?

If you believe your home was struck by lightning, you should make sure nothing is on fire. Also check your light switches, outlets, and circuit breakers. If you believe your home’s electrical system was damaged, contact a local electrician to come assess it.

Will insurance cover tree removal if lightning strikes a tree on my property?

If lightning strikes a tree on your property and it falls on your roof, home insurance can help pay for both the roof damage and tree removal. If it simply falls in your yard, home insurance will likely still pay to remove it since lightning strikes are a covered peril in your policy.

References

dropdown arrow

Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

editorial standards.
  1. Insurance Information Institute

    . "

    Triple-I: Lightning Caused $1.3 Billion In U.S. Homeowners Claim Payouts In 2021; Supply Chain Issues Exacerbate Losses

    ." Accessed January 13, 2023.

Author

Kara McGinley is a former senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she specialized in homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Forbes Advisor, Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

Editor

Jennifer Gimbel is a senior managing editor and home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our homeowners insurance coverage. Previously, she was the managing editor at Finder.com and a content strategist at Babble.com.

Expert reviewer

Britta M. Moss, CPCU, SCLA, AIC-M, has over 25 years of insurance industry experience. In her work as a property and casualty claim consultant, she provides consultation and expert witness services in claim handling standards, practices, and norms.  She has been retained by law firms representing plaintiffs and those representing insurer defendants involved in disputes or litigation regarding coverage analysis, investigation, liability determination, damage evaluation, negotiation and settlement.  She is a graduate of The Ohio State University. 

Questions about this page? Email us at .