Lightning is a more complex hazard than it’s often given credit for, according to Tim Harger, executive director of the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI). In a recent Exchange 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 usually think of fire damage when they think of lightning. But Harger said, “Beyond the fire is the destruction of electrical lines and infrastructure that support everything we do to communicate and conduct business.”;
If lighting hits any of those structures, he said, “The activity is stopped.”
Harger cited the case of an East Coast furniture manufacturer that was affected.
“That one lightning strike cost them well over a million dollars in damage,” he said. “Yes, it was the typical fire that caused structural damage, but what was affected on the ‘inside’ was even more expensive. They had damaged inventory, stopped production, and lost revenue during the repairs.”
Investing in a lightning protection system could have saved this business owner – and his insurer – the millions of dollars lost and prevented business interruption. Nearly $1 billion in lightning claims were paid in 2018 to nearly 78,000 policyholders, according to LPI.
“Lightning strikes about 100 times every second,” Harger said. “When properly installed, lightning protection systems have been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of a lightning strike.”
A lightning protection system consists of six parts:
- strike termination device,
- surge protection,
- Equipotential bonding, 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, the lightning is intercepted by the terminator and energy is conducted through the conductors and into the grounding system, preventing impact on the structure or electrical infrastructure.
“Businesses are already installing fire alarms and sprinkler systems to reduce the risk of larger fires,” Harger said. “Lightning protection systems prevent a lightning strike from causing damage. So the investment in a lightning protection system prevents personal injury and the costly impact of even one strike.”
Several insurance companies offer premium discounts for policyholders who invest in lightning protection systems. LPI encourages insurance providers interested in sharing their customer incentives to contact them at email@example.com.