Lightning is a more complex hazard than it is often given credit for, 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 being prepared and preventing damage from this hazard, which is second only to floods 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 the electrical wiring and infrastructure that supports everything we do to communicate and conduct business.”
If the lighting hits any of these buildings, he said, “the activity stops.”
Harger cited the case of an East Coast furniture manufacturer that was bombed.
“That lightning strike cost them just over a million dollars in damages,” he said. “Yes, there was the typical fire that caused structural damage, but what was affected ‘inside’ was much more costly. They damaged inventory, production downtime, and a loss of revenue during repairs.”
An investment in a lightning protection system could have saved this business owner – and his insurance company – the million dollars he lost and prevented a business outage. Nearly $1 billion in express claims were paid in 2018 to approximately 78,000 policyholders, according to LPI.
“Lightning strikes about 100 times every second,” Harger said. “When installed correctly, lightning protection systems have been scientifically proven to mitigate lightning hazards.”
The lightning protection system consists of six parts:
- strike termination device,
- surge protection,
- potential equation, f
Architects and engineers play a significant role in specifying and designing these systems, and installation is completed by certified lightning protection contractors. When properly installed lightning strikes are intercepted by a strike termination device and energy is routed through the conductors into the grounding system, preventing impacts on the electrical structure or infrastructure.
“Companies are already installing fire alarms and sprinkler systems to mitigate the larger fire risks,” said Harger. “Lightning protection systems prevent lightning from causing any harm. So investing in a lightning protection system prevents personal injury and the costly impact of even a single strike.”
Many insurance companies offer special discounts to policyholders who invest in lightning protection systems. LPI invites insurance providers interested in sharing their clients’ incentives to contact them at email@example.com.