Weather Related Damage

At this time of year when storms are prevalent, especially in the southeast, often times it seems as if lightning damage occurs automatically.  The loss of an air conditioning system, computer server or telephone service can be attributed to lighting or a power surge.  In point of fact, the damage may or may not be weather related.  In order to determine if the damage is weather related, one of the tools used by both forensic consultants and claims adjusters is a lightning strike report.  These reports are sold by companies that specialize in reporting weather related data.  Home and business owners should take note of the fact that if they feel that their claim is lightning related, it would behoove them to obtain a lightning strike report before reporting their claim.  That way when the adjuster or expert arrives to assess the damage, the owner’s report can be reviewed and used as evidence to corroborate the owner’s claim.  Currently, the attitude is if lightning strikes within five miles of the damage location, then the damage can be attributed to the lightning strike.  However, this is not a hard and fast rule.  Once lightning hits the ground, it can go anywhere.  Tracing the path is often difficult if not impossible.  As a result, if the claim cannot be disproven, the benefit of the doubt has to be given to the insured. The same arguments can be made when roof damage occurs and hail is the suspected cause.  Home and business owners can also get reports on wind velocities, rain fall and temperature changes.  The reports can be very useful in times when tornados, flooding and freezing occur.  It should also be noted that these reports can be used to disprove an insureds claim.   

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About R.J. Hill, P.E.
R. J. Hill is the author of two blogs: R.J. Hill Consulting and the Descendants of James Alexander Hill. Mr. Hill is a registered professional (mechanical) engineer with over 39 years of experience, 34 years in private practice. Please visit www.rjhill.com to see the kinds of forensic investigations that Mr. Hill performs.

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