Canadian Underwriter

Verification of Lightning Strikes Help Control Claim Costs

September 30, 2010   by Kim Cockell

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Insurance companies can now validate lightning strikes using the lightning strike data archive launched by The Weather Network.

There are approximately 2.7 million lightning flashes responsible for more than $5 billion in total insurance industry losses annually. A single bolt of lighting can reach temperatures of up to 33,000 degrees Celsius, bringing with it the risk of fire and countless dollars in insurance claims.

Finding more accurate ways of defining actual lightning events has become increasingly important within the insurance industry. Some of the older, more traditional lightning investigation methods are very subjective, relying heavily on human interpretation — the resulting conclusions are often questionable or unreliable. More dependable methods of validating lightning activity are required in today’s insurance marketplace.

Archived lightning data generated by the Pelmorex Lightning Detection Network (PLDN) assists these organizations in validating lightning strikes to correlate power outages, property and/or equipment damage with actual lightning events. The ability to authenticate lightning strikes allows for better control over escalating insurance claims costs. With their pinpoint accuracy, verification reports not only reduce on-site inspections, but also help streamline the claim verification process by confirming the presence or absence of lightning at a specific location, date and time.

The PLDN utilizes the timing precision of GPS technology and super-refined triangulation techniques to accurately pinpoint the location of lightning strikes across Canada. This results in a lower false strike rate and increased confidence in strike location relative to important assets. The data provided for each individual lightning strike includes:

• date and time;

• latitude/longitude;

• polarity (positive/negative);

• amplitude (strike strength measured in ampere’s); and

• type (cloud-to-cloud/cloud-to-ground).

Kim Cockell is the sales and administrative coordinator with the commercial services division at The Weather Network.