Lightning typically damages electronics in one of two ways. The first is a direct lightning strike to the home, which is an infrequent occurrence. A direct lightning strike will cause significant damage to electrical and nonelectrical items in the home. In many instances, this will start a fire, often in the wiring within the walls or the attic. It can also cause structural damage to the roof, chimney, or sometimes the windows or foundation. Electronics plugged into an electrical system that receives a direct lightning strike typically cannot be protected by a surge protector if the house ground rod connection haven’t been regularly maintained.
The more common scenario is for a nearby lightning strike to enter the home through wires or pipes that extend outside the home to your utility services. The energy from a nearby lightning strike can travel through communication wires (such as phone, Internet, or cable wires), directly from a utility pole into the home’s electrical panel, or through conductive metal such as plumbing or metal bars in the foundation. Damage from this type of event is generally less severe than that of a direct strike. However your sensitive electronics life span has been significantly shortened in most cases. Contacting an industry professional with a proper working knowledge is very important to having your home and its electronics contents repaired and replaced properly.
Surge and lightning damage to electronics in Florida is a frequent occurrence, particularly in the summer months. A recent analysis of 2017 homeowner’s insurance claims by Insurance Information Institute revealed that over $850 million was paid on more than 100,000 lightning claims. This represents a near 10% increase in the number of lightning claims filed in 2016 over 2015, though it is still below the 10-year average.
Perhaps more significant for insurance carriers is the fact that the average cost per residential lightning claim has risen over 40% since 2007, which is indicative of the increase in the number of electronics susceptible to lightning- and surge-related damages per home. This figure is expected to continue to rise as a growing number of homeowners install connected smart home components. Depending on the level of integration, home automation equipment can quickly become expensive to repair or replace. For smart connected home components assessed by our technicians for surge or lightning damage last year, the average cost to replace was nearly $8,500, and the average cost to repair was roughly $2850.
The electrical system of a home or business is one of the most frequent points of entry of increased voltage from a lightning or surge event. When lightning strikes a nearby power line, it travels the path of least resistance from the power line to the meter and then into the home’s electrical panel. If the electrical panel is equipped with a whole-house surge protection device, the surge will stop there, if the grounds are properly serviced and maintained. If its not completely stopped there it will be greatly reduced if thats the only entry point the lightening tried to come in on. Depending on how close the utility pole was to your home or business that was struck.
If the surge is not stopped at the electrical panel, it can then travel over the surface of the wiring to the home, burning the insulation and fusing the wires together. Moreover, it can travel through the wiring to the outlets and damage electronics not plugged into a point-of-use surge protector. Because the wiring is within the walls of the property, it can be difficult and costly to determine the extent of the damage.
If lightning travels into the home through the wiring or through communication cables (such as those used for Internet, cable TV, or phone), it can cause serious damage to any electronics not properly connected to a point-of-use surge protectors with high joules ratings. Consumer electronics, such as computers, televisions, and gaming systems, all utilize an integrated circuit, which is extremely susceptible to damage from a voltage overload caused by a surge.
Fortunately, if these types of electronics are properly connected to a quality surge protector with high joules ratings, they can be safeguarded from voltage fluctuations. An important thing to keep in mind is that the energy from a lightning strike can travel through communication cables that are connected to a cable box, phone, or modem. If these cables are not also properly connected to a surge protector, the over voltage can travel into the device that it is directly connected to and damage the circuit board. We can Protect your Devices from all of the Above! Please Give us a call!
Lightning- and surge-related events can severely damage a home’s electrical system and the electronics connected to it. As the number and value of the electrical contents of a home increases with newly developed technologies, we expect to see the average cost per residential lightning claim to continue to rise in the state of Florida. This illustrates the significance of insurance carriers developing a standardized method for handling lightning damage claims to better control their indemnity leakage exposure.
One way this can be accomplished is by utilizing an objective expert to thoroughly investigate electronics claimed in lightning losses, to verify the cause of loss and recommend an appropriate action to return the insured to pre-loss condition. Please Give us a call!