Compensation for lightning damage? Good luck!

The rainy season is the time when lightning can cook computers and household appliances.

The nation’s regulatory agency said Wednesday that electrical customers who have their devices blown away by a nearby lightning strike have recourse against the utility company. But the agency added that such complaints seldom prosper.

One reason, the agency said, is that the complainant must show that he or she did everything possible  to avoid the problem.

The agency urged, instead, that residents take steps when a storm approaches. It also warned residents to avoid talking on a fixed line telephone when a storm is nearby. Doing so might mean at least losing the telephone.

Few older Costa Rican homes are set up to use equipment to divert the high electrical peaks that lightning can put in the electrical lines. So the agency, the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos, said that a good idea would be to at least unplug kitchen appliances when storms approach.

The television set is another endangered device. The agency said that those with rooftop antennas are especially vulnerable. They urged unplugging everything. The agency did not mention cable television, but these lines also provide a way for unwanted electricity to enter the home or office.

Surge protectors that frequently are hooked up between the electrical outlet and a computer cannot withstand a direct lightning strike or even a near miss.

In 2012 the Autoridad received just 12 complaints for damage to an electrical device from utility customers.

This year there has been just five though June. To make a complaint like this is complex.

The agency wants purchase invoices, invoices for equipment repair and proof that the place where the damage took place was wired correctly.

Even with all that, the agency said that the electrical customer must bear in mind that lightning is an act of nature.

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