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Scott was professional, helpful and educated about the handling of my mother’s claim. I had a great experience with Tutwiler and Associates. St. Petersburg Homeowner

Understanding Lightning Damage Insurance Claims

Although the majority of strategies and methodologies in adjusting a lightning damage claim are similar to that of other losses, there are unique aspects of this peril that require special attention and expertise.

For lightning losses that do not result in an ensuing fire loss, most damage is caused by the electrical surge that is produced by the strike.  Although not always immediately known, lightning can cause catastrophic damage to appliances, electronics, computers and equipment, phone systems, electrical fixtures, and the electrical infrastructure of your home or business.  The resulting damage, once identified and measured, may be far more significant than one initially believes, possibly leading to temporary loss of use (of the home) for the homeowner or significant loss of revenue for businesses.

It may be important to determine where the electrical surge occurred. Many insurance policies will not pay for losses that result from off premises power surges. So be prepared to deal with this issue should the insurance company bring this up. Also, there is a difference between a lighting strike and a power surge. Some insurance companies may want you to get a lightning affidavit signed by your repair person. Be prepared for this.  Discuss the cause of the loss and where it occurred with your repair person so you are in agreement and understand the reasoning of the origin of the damage on this important issue.

The primary challenge in assessing and measuring the scope of damage from any electrical loss is first to determin the scope of damage to the property.  Are contents such as appliances, electronics, computers, and stereo equipment damaged?  Are building items such as built-in telephone systems or electrical infrastructure damaged?  If so, to what extent has the lightning power surge damaged these items?  Are the items repairable or a total loss?  In many cases, in order to answer these questions, it may be necessary to bring in experts to make a scope of loss determination.  These experts may include electrical engineers, appliance and electronics experts, to name a few.

After first investigating your lightning loss, your Tutwiler & Associates public adjuster will advise you on the most effective and accurate way to assess and document your lightning loss, including advice on whether the use of outside experts is warranted and necessary.

In cases where lightning causes an ensuing fire, in addition to addressing the damage caused by the lightning surges, damages resulting from fire would also be assessed and documented.  Please refer to the Fire Loss discussion page on our website.

Get more lightning insurance claim tips from our blog: Lightning Damage and Your Property Insurance Claim  

If you would like help with your lightning damage insurance claim and want to understand your options, give us a call at 813-412-8357 or contact us.

FAQs About Lightning

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Lighting losses are one of the most problematic insurance perils you can encounter. Just as you explained, things can be out all over the place. In addition, other items not currently showing damage may very well fail later due to heat, cracking of circuit boards, and overloading of electrical parts due to the high current charge to electronic parts that were not designed for this type of load.

Yes you should file a claim and advocate for a fair settlement. Get your own electrical engineer or depending on the items, an electronics specialist to inspect each and every building and item. Remember, any item currently under warranty will be void due to this event.

If the insurance company agrees an item is damaged by lighting, I suggest you do not accept a repair as likely the repair company will not guarantee the work. In addition we have seen a very high rate of failure in items at a later date due to the stress on the items hit. If something fails six months later the insurance carrier will claim its wear and tear, defective product etc. Have the insurance company pay you for the item, (you may get “actual cash value” or “replacement cost” depending on your policy language) and let them take the salvage value.

Yes this is a very real possibility and often happens as a jolt of power will often weaken or otherwise reduce the life of an electrical item. We see this same effect from electrical items exposed to smoke from a fire. It is not uncommon to see these items function for a few months then fail. You need to take into consideration the possibility of a reduced life expectancy for any electrical item that has been exposed to a fire, smoke, water, and power surges whether from lighting or other causes. Consider calling the expert public adjusters at Tutwiler& Associates and let them give you direction and advice on adjusting your losses from lighting and other covered electrical losses.
Yes. As long as you are within your states statute of limitations for filing claims and your claim for additional damages can be substantiated, the insurance company must consider your supplemental claim.
The use of experts to determine the cause of lightning damage should be considered. Also, obtaining weather reports which document lightning activity in your area can be helpful and convincing. In fact this has come into vogue lately not only for lighting loss claims but in fire investigations where the cause cannot be determine based on the debris. Weather reports and records, as well as opinions from experts regarding lighting’s role in a fire are all standard investigation tools in modern day fire investigations. The public adjusters at Tutwiler & Associates can be of particular assistance here.
In many cases we can present the expert fee in the claim for reimbursement by your insurance company. Either way, the benefits of an experts report far outweigh the cost of the report.
One of the best arguments we have used is to ask the claims adjuster from the insurance company to get a guarantee from his expert that the repairs will work and that the insurance company will provide a warranty. Another option is to ask the insurance company to pay you for the items and take the items as salvage. If they balk at this, they are telling you they basically have no salvage value!
Each policyholder must answer this question independently. Retaining a qualified public adjuster at Tutwiler & Associates early can help avoid the many pitfalls and miscommunications, which could lead to a less positive result down the road.

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Tutwiler & Associates Public Adjusters, Inc.
Licensed Public Insurance Adjusters & Loss Consultants
Offices: Tampa, Orlando, Palm City, Ft. Myers, Florida; Dallas, TX; Pittsburgh, PA

Executive Office
4300 W. Cypress St.
Suite 780
Tampa, FL 33607
Phone: 813.287.8090
Toll Free: 800.321.4488

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