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Gotham’s Your NYC Insurance Brokerage When Lightning Strikes

Posted on July 6, 2011

Per-claim costs for lightning damage jump more than 80% since 2004

We’re getting deep into summer, when rumbling thunderstorms rise from sticky afternoons, dumping buckets of rain and cracking with bolts of lightning that pose hazards to people and their property.

Standard homeowners and business insurance policies cover direct lightning damage, such as fire caused by a strike. But policyholders also should make sure their electronic equipment is covered against a common byproduct of a lightning storm: a power surge.

A lightning strike on a power line or transformer can send a wave of electricity through the wires and into your home through the outlets, overwhelming any sensitive electronics — computers, high-definition televisions, gaming systems. When people talk about their computer hard drives getting “fried” during a thunderstorm, this is what they mean.

The New York City-based Insurance Information Institute, which tracks homeowners insurance data, has discovered something pretty revealing: While the raw number of lightning-related insurance claims in the United States fell by 23 percent from 2004-10, the average per-claim cost rose more than 80 percent in the same period, from $2,646 in 2004 to $4,846 last year. The III believes the rising value and number of consumer electronics in the average home explains much of the spike.

Homeowners have a few ways to guard against catastrophic lightning damage that could cause tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands in damage to electronics. They can unplug all electronics when a lightning storm is forecast, but that’s not very realistic. They can install surge protectors or lightning protection systems to a home or business, but a powerful lightning strike can overwhelm surge protectors, and a lightning protection system can cost $2,000 or more. Depending on how many lightning strikes an area gets, the expense might not be worth it.

That leaves your homeowners policy. Homeowners should check with their agents or brokers to see if their electronics are covered against power surges caused by lightning or anything else. People with separate policies for high-end electronics, such as home theater systems or recording equipment, may want to check those policies as well for surge coverage.

When it comes to NYC homeowners insurance and making sure homeowners are covered against any contingencies common to the city, Gotham Insurance Co., Inc., is an invaluable resource for helping people understand what they need in a homeowners, co-op or condo policy and assembling it at competitive rates.

We’ve sold thousands of homeowners policies in all five boroughs over a half-century of operation and continue to find the right coverage for satisfied customers throughout the Tri-State area. So if you’re thinking of buying a new condo or house, call or email us, and we’ll be happy to provide you with a quote for a policy that will cover everything you own, even if lighting does strike.