Does homeowners insurance cover lightning strikes?

Yes, a standard homeowners insurance policy will cover damage caused by lightning, including fire and power surges.

Stephanie Nieves author photo

Stephanie Nieves

Published August 7, 2020

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Homeowners insurance can cover different types of damage caused by lightning, such as fire and power surges, up to your coverage limits

  • A standard homeowners insurance policy includes dwelling coverage to repair damage to the structure of your home, personal property coverage for your belongings and loss-of-use coverage if you need to temporarily relocate while your house is being repaired

  • There are several things you can do to minimize lightning damage starting with installing lightning protection systems and surge protector devices

Most homeowners probably won’t have to file a claim for lightning damage. But if you ever have to, you should know that lightning is generally covered by most standard homeowners insurance policies.

Your dwelling coverage can cover damage to the structure of your home and your loss-of-use coverage can pay for you to stay elsewhere if your home is unlivable after a lighting strike. Damage to your personal property will also be covered, like if the lightning causes a power surge that fries your television.

The types of coverage included in your policy as well as your limits for each will dictate how much your insurer will actually pay for the damage to your home and belongings from a lightning strike. If you file a claim for lightning damage, you may need to pay an out-of-pocket deductible before your insurer will pay for the remaining costs up to your policy limits.

But keep in mind, when you file a claim, you run the risk of higher rates when you go to renew your policy, so it may be worth considering how much the damage would cost to fix. You should also take preventative measures to help avoid lightning damaging your property.

IN THIS ARTICLE

Does homeowners insurance cover lightning strikes?

Yes, homeowners insurance can cover different types of damage caused by lightning. Damage to the actual structure of your home is covered by dwelling coverage, which is one of the key components of a homeowners insurance policy. Depending on the type of policy you have, dwelling coverage can protect your home from named-perils (which typically include lightning and fire) or all-risks which insures your home from any peril except the ones specifically excluded in your terms. Either way, most homeowners insurance policies cover lightning damage.

A standard homeowners insurance policy also includes other structures coverage which insures property outside of your home such as a mailbox or gazebo, and personal property coverage which can protect your furniture, electronics, valuables and other belongings from lightning damage. If a lightning bolt strikes your shed or causes a power surge that fries the devices in your home, your homeowners insurance can pay to replace or repair those damaged structures and belongings up to your coverage limits.

Loss of use coverage can also reimburse you for any additional living expenses if you need to relocate temporarily while repairs are being made to your home. That includes any extra living expenses you might incur while your home is unlivable, including meals at a restaurant if you have to eat out more, or reimbursement for laundry services if you can’t use your own washing machine.

Here’s a full view of the different coverage components that make up a standard homeowners insurance policy:

COVERAGE TYPEWHAT DOES IT COVER?WHAT'S THE COVERAGE LIMIT?DO YOU HAVE TO PAY A DEDUCTIBLE?
Dwelling coverageCovers the structure of your home and built-in appliancesShould be equal to your home's replacement costYes
Other structures coverageCovers detached structures on your property10% of dwelling coverageYes
Personal property coverageCovers your personal belongings both inside and outside the home50% of dwelling coverageYes
Loss-of-use coveragePays for additional living expenses while your home is being repaired20% of dwelling coverageYes
Personal liability coveragePays for legal and medical bills if you're held liable for injury or personal property damage to someone else$100,000-$500,000No
Medical payments coverageIf a guest is injured in your home, it pays for their medical bills, regardless of who is at fault$1,000-$5,000No

Let’s say a lightning strike causes a house fire that damages your roof and attic. Your dwelling coverage would pay for repairs to the roof, while your personal property coverage would pay to replace any belongings in your attic that were damaged. If the strike also caused a power surge, dwelling coverage would cover damage to any built-in appliances, like your dishwasher or oven. And then your loss-of-use coverage would pay for you to stay in a hotel if your home was unlivable while your roof was being repaired.

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Filing a claim for lightning damage

If lightning strikes your home, you should reach out to your insurance company to file a claim and secure coverage for the damage. Provide as many details about the damage as possible, including where the lightning struck, what the damage was, what was around, etc. and if you can, take pictures of the damage. Some of the information you’ll need when filing a homeowners insurance claim and filling out a proof-of-loss form includes:

  • Your personal information, like your name, date of birth and policy number
  • The cause of the loss
  • The property you’re claiming a loss on
  • An estimated cost of the damage (including receipts for damaged belongings)
  • Photo or video evidence of the damage

If your claim is accepted, you’ll be assigned a claims adjuster who will inspect the damage to your home, either in person or remotely, and evaluate whether or not your policy will cover the cost of repairs.

Your insurance company can pay to repair the damage up to your coverage limits. Depending on the coverage you’re using, you may need to pay a deductible before your insurer can pay the rest. During the process, if you need to make any temporary repairs while you’re waiting for the claims process to be completed, you should save any receipts or evidence of payment so you can be reimbursed by your homeowners insurance company.

How to protect your home from lightning damage

You can use your homeowners insurance to file a claim after lightning has caused damage to your property, but there are proactive things you can do to prevent or at least minimize the damage in the first place. If you live in an area that’s prone to hurricanes and thunderstorms, you should install a lightning protection system and surge protector devices.

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. To prevent a power surge from frying your television, computer, and other valuable tech inside your home, you can install a surge protection device to protect your electronic devices from a voltage surge.

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 lying flat on the ground, seeking shelter under trees, and standing near tall, isolated towers such as a telephone pole, as those settings are the most susceptible to lightning strikes
  • After the storm, check for fire in rooms above your smoke detectors, and inspect your utility rooms for issues with water, gas, and electricity

About the author

Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves

Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is an Insurance Editor at Policygenius in New York City. She has a B.A. in writing and rhetoric and previously worked as an SEO & Editorial Associate. Her words can also be found on PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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