Lightning damage claims common in Texas

A house fire on Lookout Range Drive in Leander on July 24, 2017 (Courtesy/Patrick Rainwater)
A house fire on Lookout Range Drive in Leander on July 24, 2017 (Courtesy/Patrick Rainwater)

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — In Texas, lightning damage is more common than you may think. We got a taste of that Monday night, when several fires broke out in Williamson County.

“It is very common. You wouldn’t think it’s this common. And lightning damage could be very significant like we have here where there’s a house fire,” Mike Nestor, with State Farm Insurance said, pointing to a home that was severely damaged if not destroyed in Cedar Park on Monday.

State Farm reports Texas is second only to Florida in lightning claims, standing at 9,098 claims. The average claim being $9,580 in Texas. Most of those were surge or power-related, like in Brad Morgan’s case. He also works for State Farm.

“When I came home from the storm there wasn’t power on. Along with my modem, my router and my blu-ray player,” Morgan said, pointing to the area impacted in his home.

Another impact: lightning zapping air conditioning, leaving customers in the scorching heat.

The Lookout Range Drive house fire and the Goodnight Trail house fire in the distance on July 25, 2017 (KXAN Viewer Photo)
The Lookout Range Drive house fire and the Goodnight Trail house fire in the distance on July 25, 2017 (KXAN Viewer Photo)

“We have a small child, you know, it’s unbearable for us but it could be debilitating for them,” Morgan said, adding that looking at nearby homes catching fire in Leander and Cedar Park, he’s fortunate his damage wasn’t worse. “What has happened yesterday has been on the extreme side where people don’t have homes to live in, they’ve lost everything they have.”

Morgan said it’s something that hits home for him. “I’m from South Louisiana so I’ve dealt with hurricanes, I’ve dealt with floods,” he said. And now, with lightning, he wants people to be prepared for it through insurance.

Nestor emphasized, “It’s not as uncommon as you think.”

Here are some ways you can protect your home. Lightning rods are just one option. Damage is generally caused by power surges carried by the electrical wiring, TV cable, or phone lines serving the home or business and usually involve one or more electronic items. Lighting rods serve to create an invisible cage around a house, protecting it from lightning strikes.

One expert says if properly installed, lightning protection systems are 99 percent effective. The cost of installation depends on the size of your home and your roof line, but for a 2,000-square-foot home the cost could start around $4,000. Some insurance companies offer discounts for installing lightning protection.

Friends and neighbors have started a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the mother of twin girls who lost her home in the fire on Lookout Range Drive.

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