Lightning is defined as ‘a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge during which two electrically charged regions in the atmosphere or ground temporarily equalize themselves, causing the instantaneous release of as much as one gigajoule of energy.’
Lightning Strike Quick Facts:
Lightning strikes are commonplace as are opinions on protecting your property from damage. Signs of a strike can range from a minor blemish to sinking.
Research shows your chances of a lightning strike are about one in a thousand. The further South you are, the greater the likelihood of a strike. Sailboats are more attractive than powerboats, but powerboats are not immune.
There are gizmos you can install on your yacht. Some do better than others. Ask around. Lightning is unpredictable and there is no guarantee your solution will keep lightning away or divert it to the boat in the next slip.
The American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) has standards to reduce lightning damage. Check out www.abycinc.org for more information. The idea is to get the charge to ground quickly. A minimum resistance, direct path is preferable.
Sailboats particularly and power boats occasionally may be affected by nearby strikes. We have seen claims where a boat several slips away was hit and neighborhood boats were damaged by the pulse or stray current.
How do you know IF you have been struck by Lightning?
You may not be immediately aware Zeus, the Greek god of lightning, has visited. His calling card could include electrical, electronic, or mechanical equipment malfunction or unexplained whiskey compass inaccuracy. Or bits of masthead gear are found on deck or have vanished.
Whatever the clue, to prevent sinking, you must check your bilge pumps and battery chargers to ensure they are functioning properly. If you are connected to shore power, examine the connection for signs of damage.
How Do I Submit a Lightning Insurance Claim?
Lightning claims are straightforward.
- Address immediate concerns to save your boat.
- Emergency repairs should be done to ensure she stays afloat.
- If you are taking on water, haul your boat or plug the leak and monitor bilge water levels.
- Report the event to your insurer as soon as possible.
- Obtain written estimates to repair the damages and submit them to your representative.
- If you paid emergency repair costs, get a written receipt, and present it with your claim.
- After repairs are complete and your yacht is seaworthy, do a sea trial and vigorously exercise all equipment to ensure all claim issues have been addressed.
William J Coates is a Marine and Aviation insurance broker, underwriter, claims examiner and marine surveyor. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Bill has been in the insurance business since 1972. He is well known as a helpful and innovative insurance expert and welcomes your questions and comments. Bill and his wife Susan live in Cocoa, Florida. Find out more at offshorerisk.com.