Accidents Break Solar Panels. Who’s Going to Pay?

June 28, 2024

In 2022, a huge hailstorm in Texas damaged solar installations by $300 million, which insurance companies had to pay for.  

June 2023. Hailstorms severely damaged approximately 14,000 solar panels in Nebraska.

In March 2024, in Texas again, the hail damaged another thousands of solar panels.

CoreLogic‘s research shows an increase in hail days over 2″ in diameter each year. Also, in 2023, Louisiana had 65% more days with 1″ hailstones compared to the 20-year trend, Tennessee 60%, Alabama 54%, and New Mexico 45%.

Solar panels were damaged by the hail storm on, June 13, 2018, in Fountain, Colorado

Solar panels were damaged by the hail storm on, June 13, 2018, in Fountain, Colorado

You don’t have to believe in climate change. At the same time, you may not protect your solar equipment from all possible accidents. However, you may build a compensation mechanism that will pay you back in case of losses. 

Looking for reliable insurance is step #2 after you visit our database of prominent solar installers at SolarPowerSystems and get a solar quote for free.

Safe Your Solar

This is how insurance works: for a certain amount of money, you buy yourself a backpack of cash that will be given to you in case of an accident.

That is the only way to protect your solar investment. Insurance statistics say the average solar loss due to hail is nearly $59 million. Of course, that’s about solar farms. But imagine that your $20,000 solar investment is just gone. The big corporate boys and girls will take care of themselves. But who will take care of you?

A map of all tornado (red), hail (green), and thunderstorm wind gust (blue) reports from NWS offices in 2022.

A map of all tornado (red), hail (green), and thunderstorm wind gust (blue) reports from NWS offices in 2022

Here is a main set of risks that may occur to your solar equipment and which are covered by major American insurance companies:

  1. Weather’s mood. The biggest trouble is hail and storms: ice balls accelerated by gravity and hitting fragile solar panels. Statistically, the most problems for solar panels occur where the best place to install solar panels is. Paradox, but there is nothing you can do about it. Oh, wait. Insurance? )))
  2. Hell on Earth. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy mentions the main reasons for the solar panels fire: “Design flaws, component defects, and faulty installation generally cause solar rooftop fires. As with all electrical systems, these problems can cause arcs between conductors or to the ground, as well as hot spots, which can ignite nearby flammable material”. At the same time, there are no clear statistics about the fires caused by solar panels due to their low quantity. On the other hand, the batteries may become a serious problem for the house if they are mounted or connected incorrectly. Or due to the low quality of the components.
  3. Crazy idiots and sneaky hands. Solar panels and home batteries are heavy unless the thieves plan the theft thoroughly and wait for you to leave for vacation, which is hard to imagine and fulfill. It’s almost the same with vandals… or people with low cognitive connections inside their minds. But who knows who is driving near your house or a small solar installation on the ground? Cleveland and think.
  4. Cyber risks. Most solar and power-controlling systems are based on computers and are connected to the Internet. Even your mobile app for monitoring home solar equipment may have backdoors that hackers can use to block or disrupt your home solar system for whatever reason (blackmailing, for instance: “Send us bitcoins, and we will unlock your solar stuff”).
In October 2023, solar panels crashed by a vehicle on the property of Progressive Insurance in Mayfield, Ohio

In October 2023, solar panels crashed by a vehicle on the property of Progressive Insurance in Mayfield, Ohio

Before Sealing the Deal

Yep, check those paragraphs written in small fonts. It is not about tricky-sneaky insurers who would try to cheat on your compensation. Insurance is a complex financial business with many small details and remarks. Most of them, by the way, are caused by anti-laundry legislation (but that is a different story).

So, here are prime things you should discuss with your future insurer:

  1. List of the risks. That is a list of events that may occur and kill your solar property. It directly influences the insurance price: the more risks you try to cover, the more expensive the insurance is.
  2. Exclusions and limitations. This is a list of events that are 100% not covered by the insurer. These usually are military/war events, public unrest, or certain weather disasters. Read that paragraph carefully! If one of the abovementioned risks regularly happens in your area, the insurance company may exclude it from the agreement. 
  3. Claim process. That’s about how and when you inform the insurer about the event. Generally, you must notify the insurer of the case as soon as possible (the faster, the better), send some documents, and fill out the paperwork. However, different insurers may have different approaches, so pay attention to those details because the absence of a certain document or wrong timing may cause a refusal of reimbursement.
  4. Premium adjustments. Initial quotes might include only some costs. Ask about additional fees or premium increases over time.
The roof of the Newburyport printing company Bradford and Bigelow, where a solar panel fire caused an estimated $2 to $4 million in damage in February 2022

Burnt solar panels on the roof of one of the Walmart stores

Solar Insurance Discounts

Suppose the property owner cares about their stuff and ensures safety and protection with all possible measures. In that case, the insurance company will give a discount.

What are these measures?

  • Antitheft and antivandalism. Install security systems such as cameras, alarms, and fencing around the solar equipment to deter theft and vandalism.
  • Compliance with standards. Ensure the installation and equipment comply with industry and local regulations. Proper compliance can reduce the risk of accidents and damage. That is also a solar installer’s part of the job. Therefore, choose the installers on our website…. where we have the most reliable ones.
  • Manufacturer’s warranties. Almost every insurer looks at the labels of the equipment you install. What they see usually influences their calculation. A reliable producer always provides high-quality equipment with long-lasting and wide warranties. For the insurer, there is less chance that something will go wrong.

All these measures sure cost money. You may think, “Isn’t it the same amount of money installing all these things and the insurance discount?”. No, it is not. The additional safety equipment may cost more than the discount. But, you pay for the equipment once. And the discount will be given every year. Therefore, all the costs for the additional equipment are investments in future savings.

Also, a good discount could be a multiple-policy discount. Some insurers offer discounts if you bundle multiple insurance policies (e.g., home and solar equipment insurance).

You see things happening around you every day. No accidents are planned by someone; it is just pure coincidence or bad luck. So, after you choose a prominent solar installer at SolarPowerSystems, get a solar quote for free and look around for a reliable insurance company.

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Andriy Ryzhyy
Andriy Ryzhyy

Andriy Ryzhyy is a Research Expert and Copywriter at Solar Power Systems. Andriy’s experience in digital marketing automation and renewable energy sources, passion for applying mathematical principles to real-life tasks, and devotion to developing eco-friendly energy resources—a commitment shared with the rest of the team—are crucial in shaping the company’s strategy for presenting accurate and user-friendly information on solar technology.

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