Thunderstruck! Average Lightning Claim Costs Up by 25 Percent, But Number of Claims Continues to Fall

New York Press Office: (212) 346-5500;

NEW YORK, June 25, 2013 While the destruction caused by tornadoes and hurricanes may grab the headlines, intense lightning storms also take their toll throughout the United States. In fact, lightning strikes cost nearly $1 billion in insured 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 insurer-paid lightning claims in 2012, down nearly 19 percent from 2011. The I.I.I. puts the average lightning paid-claim amount at $6,400 in 2012, up 25 percent from 2011. Taken together, these two factors resulted in $969 million in total paid lightning claims, up 1.7 percent from 2011.
The incidence of lightning claims in 2012 continues a downward trend. Since 2004, the number of paid lightning claims tumbled an average of roughly 7.5 percent per year, resulting in a 46 percent drop over the eight-year period through 2012. This decline may be attributed to an increased use of lightning protection systems. Despite this drop, the average cost per claim rose 142 percent from 2004-2012. (By comparison, the consumer price index rose by 21.5 percent in the same period.) 
“The average cost per claim continues to rise, in part because of the huge increase in the number and value of consumer electronics in homes,” said Loretta Worters, vice president of the I.I.I.”


  Number of
paid claims
Insured losses
($ millions)
Average cost
per claim
2004 278,000 $735.5 $2,646.0
2005 265,700 819.6 3,084.0
2006 256,000 882.2 3,446.0
2007 177,100 942.4 5,321.0
2008 246,200 1,065.5 4,329.0
2009 185,789 798.0 4,296.0
2010 213,278 1,033.5 4,846.0
2011 186,307 952.5 5,112.0
2012 151,000 969.0 6,400.0
Percent change
-45.7 31.7 141.9
Percent change
-19.0% 1.7% 25.2%

Source: Insurance Information Institute, State Farm ®.

Worters noted that given last year’s record tornado activity and the fact that tornadoes are usually accompanied by severe thunderstorms, it was not surprising that the number of lightning claims remained close to $1 billion.

Insurance Coverage

Damage caused by lightning, such as fire, is covered by standard homeowners and business insurance policies. Some home and business policies provide coverage for power surges that are the direct result of a lightning strike. The optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy also provides coverage for lightning damage.

Reducing the Risk of Lightning Damage

In recognition of Lightning Safety Awareness Week (June 23-29), consider the following tips from the Lightning Protection Institute and (LPI) and Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) to protect your home or business against lightning.
  • Have a lightning protection system installed for your home or business.
  • Be sure the lightning protection system is designed and installed in accordance with accepted industry standards and meets National Fire Protection Association, Lightning Protection Institute and UL requirements.
  • Include protection for electrical, telephone, cable or satellite TV lines entering the structure.
  • Make sure all equipment is UL-listed and properly labeled. 
Lightning protection systems are designed to protect a structure and provide a specified path to harness and safely ground the super-charged current of the lightning bolt. The system neither attracts nor repels a strike, but receives the strike and routes it harmlessly into the earth, thus discharging the dangerous electrical event. Investment in a lightning protection system will protect your property, belongings and equipment.

Lightning Safety Tips

“If you are outdoors in a thunderstorm, no place is safe,” says Kim Loehr, Director of Communications for the LPI. “If you are outside and hear thunder, seek indoor shelter right away. Most lightning victims are just steps away from safe shelter.”
The Lightning Protection Institute also advises the following:
  • Seek lower elevation areas.
  • Never use a tree for shelter.
  • Immediately get out and away from pools, lakes and other bodies of water.
  • Stay away from all metallic objects (fences, power lines, poles, etc.)
  • Do not raise umbrellas or golf clubs above you.
  • The safest place to be in a storm is in a structure protected with an LPI certified lightning protection system.
  • Stand clear from windows, doors and electrical appliances. Unplug appliances well before—never never during—the storm.
  • Avoid contact with piping including sinks, baths and faucets.
  • Do not use the telephone, except for emergencies. Cellphones are safe to use. 


The I.I.I.’s free mobile apps can help you create a disaster plan, learn about selecting the right insurance for your needs and budget, and create and maintain a home inventory. Learn more about our suite of apps here.
The I.I.I. has a full library of educational videos on its You Tube Channel.

Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-5500;



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