When homeowners think of home security measures, it’s doubtful their minds wander to losses due to lightning. But perhaps they should. Statistically, lightning is the most commonly experienced weather hazard, unlike earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes or hurricanes, which are more likely to affect homeowners in certain geographical regions of the country. And similar to other home security measures that reduce expected losses for insurers, lightning protection systems can provide valuable loss mitigation against a costly weather hazard that affects millions of homeowners in the U.S.
As unpredictable weather hazards continue to incur costly losses, insurance companies are recognizing the importance of rewarding loss mitigation efforts by offering premium credits and discounts. When homeowners take steps to better protect their property against weather hazards affecting their geographical region, insurance companies take notice.
“In most states insurance companies offer premium credits for security systems, fire alarms, residential sprinkler systems, permanently installed back-up generators and other protective measures for the entire external perimeter of the home,” says Mark Morgan, spokesman for the Lightning Safety Alliance (LSA). “Lightning protection systems are recognized as ‘protection for the entire external perimeter of the home’ so these systems could be eligible for consideration in terms of premium credits.”
Since some insurance providers do not have set policies regarding lightning protection credits or incentives, the homeowner may need to contact their agent or broker for assistance in determining their eligibility for a discount.
“A homeowner looking to secure an insurance credit or discount for their lightning protection system installation, may just want to ask their insurance provider if a policy exists to receive such a credit,” suggests Bud VanSickle, executive director of the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI).
Lightning is an extremely powerful force that should never be underestimated. A single bolt of lightning can pack up to 100 million volts of devastating electricity—which is why a professionally installed lightning protection system can provide a valuable return on a minimal investment. LPI offers the following tips for homeowners when inquiring about insurance discounts:
• Ask the insurance agent or broker if the lightning protection system installation is applicable for a discount or credit under “security protection for external perimeter” or “weatherproofing mitigation” guidelines.
• Make sure that the lightning protection system is installed by a qualified installer in accordance with LPI, NFPA and UL safety standards so that the installation meets quality assurance requirements.
• Request that the installing firm provide system compliance information (inspection or proof of installation document) to forward to the insurance provider.
• Ask the insurance provider about discounts for loss mitigation efforts. If premiums are being lowered for mitigation efforts for earthquakes (frame anchoring, bracing cripple walls, strapping a water heater in place, etc.) or for hurricanes (roof bracing, hurricane shutters, or retrofitted doors), then loss mitigation for lightning may be applicable for discount, as well.
• Acquaint your insurance provider with lightning loss statistics (lightning cost more than a billion dollars in insured losses in 2011 and the average homeowner claim was approximately $5,122.) The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) www.iii.org is a good resource for obtaining lightning loss information.
• Link your insurance provider with lightning protection industry resources that provide information and continuing education services.