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Vince Tabor
Posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 4:24 pm:   

Thanks ..very informative. I had a claim in
No. Charleston from lightning. HO claims (3) heat
pumps went, (3) TV's. Refrig, (2) freezers, and
a water heater was knocked out. No evidence of
charred wire.... we finally called in the sngineers. Carrier did pay for roof (wind and hail) but not for lightning.
Thanks Russ Lott for the information on Global.. that will come in handy soon.
Russ Lott (Russ)
Posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 2:02 pm:   

Here is a service that can help any adjuster, they are not cheap but they will act as expert witnesses and their findings have been up held by the federal courts. Global Atmospherics can give you a fax with the number of lightning stricks within a 5 mile radius of the address of the risk. They charge $120 for three days, the day before, the date of loss and the day after the date of loss. Their phone is 800--283-4557, or, your carrier may want to invest in the report.
J. Danny Hackney
Posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 10:02 am:   

Thanks to everyone for the information on the lightning damage to the A/C question. This is not my case, but the information that I have is that there were thunderstorms that produced numerous cloud to ground (or vice versa) strikes. Other claims were submitted in the particular neighborhood and this carrier has paid other claims with the same loss date in the area. However, this insured did not complain of other or collateral damages. I know from personal experience, that you don't necessarily have to have collateral damage. My A/C quit during a storm and investigation revealed that the outside cartridge fuses were fried, but no other problems. Thanks again.
Chuck Deaton
Posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 8:50 am:   

My experience is that "lightning" seldom does direct damage without leaving clear evidence. I would expect that had "lightning" damaged the A/C there would also be damage to wiring, light bulbs, microwaves, computers and the like. Burned wiring would be evident.

There is no question that lightning hit the pine in my front yard. There is a strip of bark 30 feet long and 6 inches wide torn off. The lightning strike was accompanied by a clap of thunder that shook my house.

If the A/C quit in the winter it is possible that it was turned on, it was old, the oil in the compressor was cold, the compressor stuck and it burned out.

Also the heat of a "lightning" strike will sometimes change the composition of the Freon. Any A/C man can do an "acid test"

The compressor can be cut open and examined by a willing A/C shop or testing lab.

However, keep in mind that wind and lightning belong to the good lord.
Gale Hawkins (Gale)
Posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 1:22 am:   

Knowledge answers a ton of questions.
Jim Flynt (Jim)
Posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2000 - 12:10 am:   

Danny, I have no problem with what Tom, Tom, Dave and Gale have said, but let me approach this from a slightly different, albeit equally important angle.

Under a specified perils policy (HO-1, HO-2, DP-1, DP-2) the burden of proof is on the insured to show that a specified peril caused the damage.

Under an "all risks" policy (the DP-3, and the HO-3 as you mentioned which is the policy in question here) the burden of proof is on the Insurer to prove that on the basis of an exclusion in the policy, that there is no coverage for the cause of the damage. Therefore it is incumbent on the insurance carrier, and not the insured, to have the unit tested before denying the claim.

This of course presumes that there were weather conditions conducive to a lightning strike present within the nearby proximity to the risk and/or damaged unit. If the carrier has verification from a weather reporting service that there was no lightning potential in the area at the time of loss, then any need for testing by the carrier would be made moot.
Gale Hawkins (Gale)
Posted on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 11:28 pm:   

J. Danny the loss you describe is everyone’s nightmare. I think most agree the age is a non-issue as to where it was lighting damage or not. The A/C contractor should state what damage he did find. “Lighting most likely cause” is a very weak statement.

Having signed more lighting affidavits than I preferred on computer equipment I realize the homeowner has a problem until he can find an A/C contractor that will sign an lighting affidavit. If I could never find physical damage and the carrier was already paying of phones, TV’s and similar equipment on that or nearby loses I just stated, “damage is consistent with other lighting losses reported at the same time” but if I was a carrier I still would not be excited about paying the loss. When there was no history of other lighting losses and no visible physical damage it was left up to the homeowner and carrier to work it out. I did see cases that were nothing more than someone wanting a new computer without question but if they got one it was without my blessings. The homeowners that had a good relationship with their agent seem to come out winners more often than not if that helps.
Tom Joyce (Tomj)
Posted on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 10:37 pm:   

If Co denied was probably with verification of weather service reports indicating no lightning in area. Was there an actual inspection, many co are handling these by phone and using weather services for backup
R.D. Hood (Dave)
Posted on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 9:48 pm:   

Another possible solution, would be to have an electrician run an Open & Short test on the two interior windings, the start and the run.

If they all show to be shorted together you can probable be assured it was hit.

Were any other items struck????????

Also where is the point of entry and exit of the lightning, it always has these, you may have to look hard but they will be there.
Tom Weems
Posted on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 6:09 pm:   

They can have the compressor cut open and tested. I have seen it required. Ask your A/C contractor to do it. I think it costs around $150 and it's the only way to be sure if lightning did it or not. The carrier may also require a lightning affidavit.

I hope that helps.
J. Danny Hackney
Posted on Monday, April 10, 2000 - 4:10 pm:   

What criteria is currently generally accepted in making a determination that damage to an air conditioning unit under HO 3 was or was not caused by lightning. Situation involves major carrier whose adjuster denied coverage stating that he could make a determiniation from his independent investigation that loss was not lightning related. One and apparently the only criteria adjuster used was age of unit (about 12 years old). Insured's A/C contractor says lightning most likely the cause. No independent test done. Don't most insurer's have some type of testing to determine if loss was caused by lightning?

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