Lightning

Lightning

The number of direct lightning fatalities fell from 28 in 2012 to a record low of 23 in 2013, according statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Over the 10 year period from 2001 to 2012 on average about 35 people died each year from lightning strikes in the U.S., according to the National Weather Service. Going back over the last 30 years, 53 people died each year on average from lightning strikes. The significant decline in lightning deaths is due to fewer farmers working in fields, along with technological advances, better lightning protection and awareness of lightning safety.

The top states for lightning deaths in 2013 were Florida and Arizona, both with four deaths. Twelve additional states reported lightning deaths in 2013, including Illinois, Kentucky and Texas, each with two deaths.

 

LIGHTNING FATALITIES BY STATE, 2013

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service.

View Archived Graphs

 

Lightning strikes cost nearly $1 billion in homeowners insurance losses in 2012, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the I.I.I. and State Farm ® found there were 151,000 lightning claims in 2012, down nearly 19 percent from 2011. The I.I.I. puts the average lightning claim at $6,400 in 2012, up 25 percent from 2011. Georgia had the largest number of homeowner insurance claims for lighting losses in 2012, followed by North Carolina and Pennsylvania, according to the I.I.I.

    

HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE CLAIMS AND PAYOUT FOR LIGHTNING LOSSES, 2009-2013

            Percent change
  2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2012-2013 2009-2013
Number of paid claims 185,789 213,278 186,307 151,000 114,740 -24.0% -38.2%
Insured losses ($ millions) $798.1 $1,033.5 $952.5 $969.0 $673.5 -30.5 -15.6
Average cost per claim  $4,296 $4,846 $5,112 $6,400 $5,869 -8.3 36.6

Source: Insurance Information Institute, State Farm ®.

View Archived Tables

 

  • Lightning damage accounted for about $1 billion in homeowners insurance claims each year from 2010 to 2012, according to an analysis by the Insurance Information Institute.

 

2013 WEATHER EVENTS, FATALITIES, INJURIES AND DAMAGE (1)

Weather events Fatalities Injuries Property damage
($ millions)
Crop damage
($ millions)
Total damage
($ millions)
Lightning 23 145 $23.89 $0.06 $23.95
Tornado 58 756 3,642.18 6.56 3,648.74
Thunderstorm wind 17 121 626.54 50.89 677.42
Hail 0 4 1,245.49 75.04 1,320.53
Total 98 1,026 $5,538.10 $132.55 $5,670.64

(1) Includes the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service.

View Archived Tables

 

    

TOP TEN STATES FOR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE LIGHTNING LOSSES BY NUMBER OF CLAIMS, 2013

Rank State Number of paid claims Insured losses ($ millions) Average cost per claim
1 Georgia 11,184 $56.0 $5,007
2 Texas 6,419 54.2 8,436
3 North Carolina 5,711 34.1 5,965
4 Louisiana 5,547 21.6 3,902
5 Alabama 5,199 34.8 6,702
6 Pennsylvania 4,483 22.4 4,987
7 Tennessee 4,317 23.2 5,381
8 South Carolina 4,011 23.1 5,755
9 Ohio 3,942 17.1 4,344
10 Illinois 3,849 25.6 6,646

Source: Insurance Information Institute, State Farm ®.

 

  • There were 13,000 lightning-related homeowners insurance claims in Georgia in 2012, the highest among the states.

Lightning Fires in Residential Vs. Non-Residential Properties

From 2007 to 2011 local U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lighting, according to an analysis by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). These fires caused an average of nine civilian deaths and $451 million in direct property damage per year, according to the NFPA. Home fires accounted for 19 percent of the lightning fires, fires in non-residential structures, including businesses and other non-residential properties, accounted for 7 percent; vehicle fires accounted for 1 percent. The remaining 73 percent were in outdoor and unclassified properties.

Lightning fires in non-residential properties caused an average of $108 million in direct property damage each year from 2007 to 2011, according to the survey. The average annual damage in non-residential properties includes:

  • $28 million in storage facilities
  • $22 million in places of assembly, such as houses of worship and restaurants
  • $19 million in nonhome residential properties such as hotels and motels
  • $15 million in mercantile and business properties such as offices, specialty shops and department stores
  • $15 million in industrial and manufacturing facilities
  • $3 million in outside properties
  • $3 million in educational and healthcare facilities
  • $3 million in miscellaneous properties

 

FIRES STARTED BY LIGHTNING BY TYPE OF STRUCTURE, 2007-2011 (1)

(1) Reported to local fire departments.

Source: National Fire Protection Association.

View Archived Graphs

 

 

LIGHTNING INCIDENTS BY MONTH, 2007-2011

Source: National Fire Protection Association.

View Archived Graphs

 

For more information on lightning, please see The Lightning Protection Institute.