Contents and personal liability

Summer storms and a broken TV: What does contents insurance cover?

INFORMATION
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If your home is hit by lightning, the contents insurer will pay out. Source: iStock.com / assalve

With thunder and lightning raging outside, you need to watch out for your favourite gadgets indoors: Lightning strikes more often than you would think – and may cause considerable damage. This article explains what you should do if lightning has struck and how to prepare for the season of summer storms. 

During a thunderstorm, you should ideally switch off and unplug your TV. The voltage caused by a lightning bolt hitting the power supply is just too high. But what to do if you're not at home during a heavy thunderstorm and can’t prevent the damage?

This is where home contents insurance comes into play: Lighting strike is included in the fire cover of your contents insurance policy. The deductible is usually 200 francs while natural hazards such as high watermark, flooding or storms are subject to the statutory deductible of 500 francs. The important thing is to report the damage promptly to your insurer.

Expect an inspection

The insurance company will check to see whether a thunderstorm did in fact pass across the region in the period of time indicated. They may also send an expert to check whether the equipment was damaged by a power surge or whether perhaps there was some other kind of defect.

Payment of original value minus deductible

And what exactly will contents insurance pay in such a case? Basically the original value of the damaged item is covered. This means the insurance pays out the amount required to purchase a new item of equivalent value – minus the deductible, which in cases of lightning damage is usually 200 francs.

The trouble with electronic devices in particular, however, is that the calculated amount can be lower than the price originally paid. The reason for this is that technology keeps on progressing and a TV or computer which was “high-end” a few years ago is now on sale at a discount.

Tip: If you truly value your equipment and can't do without it, pull out the plug before you leave the house during the stormy season (especially in July).

Good to know: damage caused by a lightning strike on a house is covered by buildings insurance.This is obligatory in most Swiss cantons and must be taken out by the home owner. The insurance also covers fixtures and fittings belonging to the dwelling – such as oven, dishwasher etc. If you are renting an apartment, you should notify the landlord or property manager of a lighting strike in case the house was damaged as well.