Focus on Lightning Awareness

Lightning is typically associated with thunderstorms but can also occur many miles away from a weather event. Bolts are super-charged and five times hotter than the surface of the sun. Individuals are in danger when lightning is nearby. Strikes cause personal injury, sometimes death. Property is also at risk. A building hit by lightning may catch on fire. Electrical equipment and appliances may be damaged by a lightning-related power surge.

The National Weather Service coined the phrase 'When thunder roars, go indoors.' Staying outside until threatening weather arrives is risky. Taking shelter inside is the best way to protect yourself and loved ones from being struck by lightning. Remain indoors until thirty minutes after the storm passes. Be aware that electrical energy travels easily through water and metal. Above or underground wires and water pipes may carry an electrically charged lightning strike inside your house. Stay away from corded phones, electronic equipment, plumbing, doors, and window.

Millions of lightning strikes occur each year, and Illinois is among the top ten states to experience damage. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute reported 2,438 claims in Illinois in 2019, averaging $10,078 per loss. Installing UL-approved surge protectors, lightning rods, or a whole-house lightning protection system can safeguard your home and belongings. Victims often turn to an insurance company for help with lightning-related property damage. Traditional homeowners insurance policies cover dwelling loss caused by lightning or fire. Personal belongings damaged by a a direct lightning hit are covered as well. Limitations apply if the power surge comes from a power line or transformer.

Review your homeowners insurance policy before a loss occurs. Confirm adequate policy limits are in place. Check loss settlement terms as well. Structural losses are typically covered on a replacement cost basis. Loss settlements for personal belongings are reduced for depreciation, but most insurers offer contents replacement cost as a policy add-on. Consider the following tips:

  • Dwelling. Homeowners insurance is based on dwelling replacement cost, which is how much it takes to rebuild the structure using materials of like kind and quality. Depreciation (age, wear, and tear) is not a factor. It is best to insure your home for its full replacement cost. Insuring below replacement cost could mean a reduced settlement below the cost to repair damage.
  • Personal Property. Contents coverage is based on dwelling coverage amount. Check the policy's Coverage C Contents limit to verify how much personal property insurance protection is available. Complete a room-by-room personal property inventory and compare this to the contents coverage limit. Review policy limitations on jewelry, high value items, business equipment, and more. Talk to your local agent about securing additional contents coverage if needed. Consider adding contents replacement cost as a buy-back option as well.
  • Endorsements. Insurers offer a wide range of endorsements to address coverage gaps and tailor policies for specific needs. Talk to a local homeowners insurance agent to discuss cost and overage specifics. Dwelling add-ons to consider include extended or guaranteed replacement cost coverage. Contents add-ons to consider include contents replacement cost, personal property floater for high value items, sewer and sump pump back-up or overflow, and refrigerated products. Flood insurance is available as a separate, stand-alone policy.