Lightning-Related Homeowners Insurance Claims Plunge, Yet Claims Costs Surge

Florida, Texas and California Are Top States for Lightning Claims; National Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 21-27

For immediate release New York Press Office: (917) 923-8245; media@iii.org

 

NEW YORK, June 19, 2020—For the second consecutive year, the number of lightning-caused U.S. homeowners insurance claims decreased in 2019 yet the average cost per claim has increased 11 percent between 2017 and 2019, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I). 

The Triple-I’s findings, based on national insurance claims numbers, determined:

  • More than $900 million in lightning claims were paid out in 2019 to nearly 77,000 policyholders.
  • The cumulative value of claims caused by lightning rose 1.2 percent between 2018 and 2019 and 0.4 percent from 2017-2019.

“It’s not surprising that lightning-related homeowners insurance claims costs have risen,” said James Lynch, chief actuary and senior vice president of Research and Education at the Triple-I. “Homes are more susceptible to lightning damage because electronic systems have become more interconnected – think Smart Homes – which have an easy gateway to much of a home’s electronic network, damaging scores of devices and appliances at once.”

Lynch added the average cost per claim rose 2.6 percent from 2018 to 2019. “However, the average cost per claim between 2017 and 2019 increased 11 percent,” he said.

Homeowners Insurance Claims And Payout For Lightning Losses, 2017-2019

 

Year Number of
claims
Average cost
per claim 
Value of claims
($ millions)
2017 85,020 $10,781 $916.6
2018 77,898 11,668 908.9
2019 76,860 11,971 920.1
Percent change      
2018-2019 -1.3% 2.6% 1.2%
2017-2019 -9.6 11.0 0.4

Source: Insurance Information Institute.

State by State Numbers

Florida – the state with the most thunderstorms— remained the top state for lightning claims in 2019, with 6,821, followed by Texas (5,780) and California (5,100). Texas, which had ranked fourth in 2018, moved up to second place (5,780) and New York moved up from eighth to sixth place (2,866). Of the states with largest number of claims, Texas had the highest average cost per claim at $15,278 in 2019. 

Top 10 States For Homeowners Insurance Lightning Losses By Number Of Claims, 2019

 

Rank State Number of
claims
Value of
claims ($ millions)
Average cost
per claim
1 Florida 6,821 $93.2 $13,669
2 Texas 5,780 88.3 15,278
3 California 5,100 71.9 14,105
4 Georgia 4,436 49.3 11,115
5 Louisiana 3,540 31.9 9,025
6 New York 2,866 39.5 13,792
7 North Carolina 2,849 31.8 11,165
8 Pennsylvania 2,838 27.3 9,612
9 Alabama 2,514 30.3 12,051
10 Illinois 2,438 24.6 10,078
  Total, top 10 39,182 $488.2 $12,460
  Other states 37,678 431.8 11,461
  Total U.S. 76,860 $920.1 $11,971

Source: Insurance Information Institute.

Homeowners Insurance Coverage

Damage caused by lightning, such as a fire, is covered under standard homeowners insurance policies. Some policies provide coverage for power surges that are the direct result of a lightning strike, which can cause severe damage to appliances, electronics, computers and equipment, phone systems, electrical fixtures and the electrical foundation of a home.

In recognition of Lightning Safety Awareness Week, June 21-27, the Triple-I and the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI), a national organization that promotes lightning protection education, awareness and safety, encourage homeowners to install a lightning protection system in their home. 

“When it comes to lightning, safety and liability are two important factors,” said Tim Harger, executive director of LPI. “The safest place in any lightning event is within a structure protected by a properly designed, inspected and certified lightning protection system. Lightning protection systems protect the electronic infrastructure, core and knock-on functions of properties and can significantly reduce the more than $900 million of insured claims." 

To locate an LPI-certified lightning protection system installer in your area, click here


RELATED LINKS Facts and Statistics: Lightning Lightning Videos

Consumer Alert: The Dangers of Shoddy Lightning Protection System Installations

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

NOAA/National Weather Service

 


The Triple-I has a full library of educational videos on its YouTube Channel. Information about Triple-I mobile apps can be found here.

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