Lightning is one of the oldest forms of destruction in the earth’s history. Over time, lightning has carried several myths regarding its form and purpose. The Romans believed that the king of the gods used lightning to punish wrongdoers and change the outcome of wars. Native Americans spoke of a '"thunderbird" responsible for thunder and lightning. In South Africa, people believed that a different type of thunderbird produce thunder by flapping its enormous wings and had bright feathers that produced lightning. Today we understand lightning a little bit better, but maintaining a healthy fear to avoid injury is still beneficial.
The Insurance Information Institute calls lightning strikes an underrated killer. Every year, there are more 16 million lightning storms and 30 million lightning strikes to the ground. Lightning speeds to the ground at 100 kilometers per second. The air around a lightning bolt gets hotter than the surface of the sun causing irreparable damage to anyone in its path.
Lightning strikes often cause the most damage to Mother Nature, but when lightning is combined with a vehicle or a home, covering the damage depends on your coverage. Lightning strikes are covered under most policies for auto and home insurance coverage.
Cars are struck by lightning every year, but gathering statistical data on these incidents is difficult because they are often not reported, as there may not be any outward obvious damage. The most common harm to a vehicle struck by lightning is damage to the electrical system.
There may also be burn marks on the outside of the vehicle, damage to the outside antenna and/or steel-belted radial tires. For vehicles, it is important to carry optional comprehensive plan which includes lightning coverage for any damage caused.
Vehicle fires caused by lightning are rare, but can occur. "Cars are hit every year," says meteorologist John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist at the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine. Vehicle fires accounted for 1 percent of lightning fires from 2004 to 2008, according to an analysis by the National Fire Protection Association.
The good news is that a vehicle is one of the safest places to be when struck by lightning. The outer surface of the vehicle absorbs most of the electricity carried by materials like copper and aluminum. This is known as the "skin effect.”
For drivers and passengers inside, try not to touch anything metal, turn off the engine, and pull over to the size of the road. Wait at least 30 minutes after the storm passes to get out of your car and assess any damage. Even if you cannot see lightning anymore, the electrical currents in the air may pose a threat, so it is best to wait out the storm and allow it to pass before getting out of the car.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners filed more than 213,000 lightning-related claims in 2010, that equates to roughly 7 percent of all property and casualty insurance claims. The average claim was $4,846, but the total cost of these claims topped over $1 billion. When lightning strikes a home, the most common damage includes fires and damage to electrical systems.
The chances of a home in the United States being struck by lightning are 1 in 200. Florida tops the list of states for lightning strikes, followed by Texas, Colorado, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia. Summertime is the most popular season for lightning storms, which makes it a perfect time to re-evaluate your homeowner’s policy and ensure you have adequate coverage, especially if you live in a high-risk area.
By Matt Reynolds - Google+