Lightning is a more complex peril than it is often given credit for being, according to Tim Harger, executive director of the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI). In a recent interview with Triple-I CEO Sean Kevelighan, Harger discussed the importance of preparing for and preventing damage from this risk, which is second only to flooding when it comes to costly weather events.
People typically think about fire damage when they think about lightning. But Harger said, “Beyond the fire is the destruction of electrical wires and infrastructure that supports everything we do to communicate and to conduct business.”
If lighting strikes any of these structures, he said, “Activity is stopped.”
Harger cited the case of an East Coast furniture manufacturer that was struck.
“That one lightning strike cost them just over a million dollars in damage,” he said. “Yes, there was the typical fire that caused structural damage, but what was impacted on the ‘inside’ was even more costly. They had damaged inventory, production downtime, and loss of revenue during the repairs.”
Investment in a lightning protection system could have saved this business owner – and his insurer – the million dollars lost and prevented business interruption. Nearly $1 billion in lightning claims was paid out in 2018 to almost 78,000 policy holders, according to LPI.
“Lightning strikes about a 100 times every second,” Harger said. “When installed properly, lightning protection systems are scientifically proven to mitigate the risks of a lightning strike.”
A lightning protection system consists of six parts:
- Strike termination device,
- Surge protection,
- Potential equalization, and
Architects and engineers play an important role in specifying and designing these systems, and installation is completed by certified lightning protection contractors. When properly installed lightning is intercepted by the strike termination device and energy is routed through the conductors and into the grounding system, preventing impact to the structure or electrical infrastructure.
“Businesses already install fire alarms and sprinkler systems to mitigate greater risks of fires,” Harger said. “Lightning protection systems prevent a lightning strike from causing any damage. So the investment in a lightning protection system prevents personal injury and the costly impact of even one strike.”
Several insurers offer premium discounts for policyholders who invest in lightning protection systems. LPI invites insurance providers who are interested in sharing their customer incentives to contact them at email@example.com.