What you need to know if lightning strikes your home

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The storms that rolled through the area Tuesday brought a lot of lightning.

During that time, there were two reports of house fires due to strikes—including a home in  Apex that was hit for the second time in two years.

If that happens to you, most homeowner’s insurance policies cover all damage associated with a lighting strike.

However, there are things you need to know about navigating the insurance process following a lightning strike.

Consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia spoke with a homeowner who had to go through that process after lightning started a fire that burned his home almost to the ground.

Seven years ago exactly, Gerry Tarabokia watched as a lightning-induced fire ripped through his home – leaving it uninhabitable.

“It was total destruction,” said Gerry Tarabokia.

Firefighters told him, “you can’t go in the house. We are condemning the house.”

The 2012 fire was the third time Tarabokia had to deal with the effects of lighting striking homes where he lived.  Each time it happened, his insurance kicked in.

“They covered everything other than deductible,” he said. “I didn’t have to worry about a thing.”

Although insurance may rebuild the house, the possessions inside are a different story and you may find they aren’t covered.

For example, in your bedroom, insurance won’t give you anything for it.

But, Tarabokia got all his possessions replaced by insurance because he had a special rider on his policy.

“I had a policy that covered replacement value for your assets,” he said.

After the fire—Tarabokia found he was besieged.

“The people were lining up on the street the next day to get them to sign on with them to get them to rebuild the house,” he said.

To avoid getting hurt by a fly-by-night contractor, Tarabokia asked for advice.

“We relied on the insurance company we dealt with,” he said. “They recommended we use a particular company.

If lighting hits near your home—and the bolt damages components inside—you homeowners insurance will also cover it as if it were a direct lightning strike.

There is also device you can buy which will protect your electrical system against nearby lightning strikes.

It’s call a whole home surge protector.

“If a surge should come through your main line, or lightning should hit nearby, it stops it at the box,” said David Dombrowski of Rapid Repair Experts.

However, that’s not a DIY project.

That whole home surge protector must be installed by a licensed electrician.

And although lightning strikes are dramatic—insurance agents tell CBS 17 it’s actually pretty rare for them to have to deal with home lightning strike claims.

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