Your business’ future could be in danger from big black clouds. However, the dangers are not always from a dark and uncertain future. They could also come from the cumulonimbus thunderclouds that appear regularly in the sky above us.
Storm clouds are the most dangerous for business property. Lightning!
Lightning is a visible electrical discharge that occurs between clouds or objects on the ground and clouds.
Business property may sustain material damage from high-power energy travelling through a structure. In some cases, the energy can cause extensive structural damage and even collapse.
A bolt of lightning can strike buildings in a radius of up to ten miles from the edge of a thunderstorm. It also strikes anywhere below the mass turbulent air. A bolt of lightning can strike commercial property and buildings from hours before a slow moving storm arrives.
According to the Office of National Statistics in the UK, lightning strikes approximately 1500 properties each year. Half of these properties are commercial properties. Lightning strikes on commercial property are more common in blocks of flats than large industrial buildings or towers.
Lightning Risk Management
All businesses, regardless of their business insurance policy, should take steps to minimize damage and loss caused by lightning strikes.
A lightning conductor system should be installed in all commercial buildings.
This installation is designed to redirect the current from the bolt to earth, protecting the structure and its occupants against the most severe effects of lightning strikes.
Sometimes, fire can cause extensive damage to the electrical wiring in a building. This could lead to an explosion of stock or ignite office equipment. The risk of fire can be higher depending on what’s stored at the business premises. You could have a hardware shop or a chemical facility, or even a paper store.
The most dangerous power surges are for electrical equipment. Recent incidents have seen lightning eliciting high voltages or currents in computer installations as well as Internet server farms.
Lightning strikes can cause fires and subsequent losses. It is possible to reduce these risks by making sure that your lightning protection system works properly and that all alarms work correctly.
It is vital that the conductors remain in good working order. They can also be damaged during ground excavations or building repairs.
It is important to repair lightning conductors immediately if they are damaged by building work.
Small businesses should also implement regular servicing and testing. Insurance policies will often insist on this to make sure that their coverage remains effective.
Listening to long range weather forecasts is a good way to prepare your business for storms. It also gives you time to make the necessary preparations to protect your business.
Nearly all business insurance policies that cover commercial property will include a provision for lightning damage loss and consequential business disruption under the basic perils coverage.
Perils in the contents or buildings section of a commercial property policy will cover lightning risk. It is available to tenants, lease-holders and property owners to protect their contents from such loss.