The number of lightning deaths in the United States in 2015 continues to rise, the National Weather Service (NWS) has warned.
So far this year some 22 lightning fatalities have been recorded, just four shy of the 26 deaths recorded for the whole of 2014.
Alabama, Florida and Colorado top the states for lightning deaths in 2015 to-date with three lightning deaths each.
Lightning kills an average of 49 people in the U.S. each year, and hundreds more are severely injured, according to the NWS.
While storms can be deadly, the number of insurance claims from lighting strikes in the U.S. has been in a period of steady decline, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
Total insured losses from lightning were up 9.7 percent in 2014, though overall incurred losses between 2010 and 2014 are still down 28.5 percent.
An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the I.I.I. and State Farm found there were 99,871 insurer-paid lightning claims in 2014, down 13 percent from 2013. Yet the average lightning paid-claim amount was up 26 percent, from $5,869 in 2013 to $7,400 in 2014.
James Lynch, chief actuary at the I.I.I. noted that since 2010, the number of paid lightning claims is down more than 53 percent:
The sustained decline in the number of claims may be attributed to an increased use of lightning protection systems, technological advances, better lightning protection and awareness of lightning safety–as well as to fewer storms.”
Still, lightning remains a very costly weather-related event. Despite fewer storms, insurers still paid $739 million in lightning claims to nearly 100,000 policyholders in 2014, the I.I.I. notes.
The Lightning Protection Institute offers some useful lightning safety tips here.