By Loretta Worters, Vice President, Media Relations, Triple-I
More than $1 billion in lightning-caused U.S. homeowners insurance claims were paid out in 2021 to 60,000-plus policyholders, with 40 percent of that figure ($522 million) attributable to California alone, according to Triple-I.
Based on national insurance claims data, the Triple-I found:
- The total value of claims in 2021 were down more than 36 percent from 2020 but increased more than 43 percent since 2017, from $916.6 million to more than $1.3 billion;
- The average number of lightning-caused U.S. homeowners insurance claims fell more than 15 percent between 2020 and 2021, continuing a downward trend since 2017 of more than 28 percent; and
- The average cost per claim was also down 25 percent from 2020 (28,885 to 21,578), but the five-year trend shows the average cost per claim has doubled, to $21,578 from $10,781.
The average cost per claim is volatile from year to year, but it has been particularly high in the past two years because of lightning fires throughout the country, the Triple-I noted.
The outsized 2020 insured loss payout number nationwide was caused in part by California’s CZU August Complex fire, which was sparked by lighting. The multiple blazes impacted Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties and caused at least one fatality. Alaska is currently fighting a wildfire in the southwest part of the state due to lighting.
Not only does lightning result in deadly fires it can cause severe damage to appliances, electronics, computers and equipment, phone systems, electrical fixtures, and the electrical foundation of a home. The resulting damage may be far more significant than a homeowner realizes. Supply-chain delays are also sending appliances and electronics prices higher.
Florida—the state with the most thunderstorms—remained the top state for number of lightning claims in 2021, with 5,339, followed by Texas, Georgia, and California, respectively. California, which had 3,381 lightning claims, had the highest average cost per claim at $154,574, the second year to have an impact on the Golden State.