Triple-I: Lightning Caused $1.3 Billion In U.S. Homeowners Claim Payouts In 2021; Supply Chain Issues Exacerbate Losses

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York Press Office: Loretta Worters, 917-208-8842; lorettaw@iii.org 

 

 

NEW YORK, June 21, 2022—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 ($523 million) attributable to California alone, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I.).   

 

Based on national insurance claims data compiled to coincide with Lightning Safety Awareness Week (June 19-25), the Triple-I found:

 

  • The total value of lightning-caused U.S. homeowners insurance claims was down more than 36 percent in 2021 ($1.31 billion) from 2020 ($2.06 billion)
  • The number of lightning-caused U.S. homeowners insurance claims decreased by more than 15 percent between 2020 and 2021, continuing its downward trend from 2017 with a decrease of more than 28 percent from 85,000 to 60,000-plus   
  • The average cost per lightning-caused claim decreased 25 percent from 28,885 in 2020 to 21,578 in 2021
  • Despite steady decreases over a five-year period (2017-2021) in the number of lightning-caused homeowners insurance claims, the average cost per claim is up 100% in this same timeframe ($10,781 to $21,578)

 

“The average cost per claim is volatile from year to year,” said Loretta Worters, a vice president with the Triple-I, “but it has been particularly high in the past two years because of lightning fires throughout the country.”

 

The outsized 2020 insured loss payout number nationwide was caused in part by California’s CZU August Lightning Complex fire, which was sparked by lightning.  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 lightning. 

 

Homeowners Insurance Claims And Payouts For Lightning Losses, 2017-2021

 

Year Value of claims ($ millions) Number of claims Average cost per claim
2017 916.6 85,020 10,781
2018 908.9 77,898 11,668
2019 920.1 76,860 11,971
2020 2,066.7 71,551 28,885
2021 1,313.1 60,851 21,578
Percent change, 2020-2021 -36.5% -15.0% -25,3%
Percent change, 2017-2021 43.3% -28.4% 100.1%

Source: Insurance Information Institute, State Farm®.

“Not only does lightning result in deadly fires,” said Worters, “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. Delays in supply chain are also sending appliances and electronics prices higher.”

 

Florida–the state with the most thunderstorms—remained the top state for the highest 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.

 

Top 10 States With Estimated Number And Cost Of Lightning Claims, 2021

 

Rank State Value of claims
($ millions)
Number
of Claims
Average cost
per claim
1 FL $88.3 5,339 $16,552
2 TX 95.2 4,490 21,206
3 GA 43.8 3,817 11,492
4 CA 522.6 3,381 154,574
5 NY 45.1 2,426 18,592
6 PA 34.0 2,410 14,134
7 NC 36.8 2,377 15,522
8 LA 28.0 2,372 11,817
9 AL 29.3 2,276 12,906
10 MI 26.9 1,887 14,291
  Top 10 states $950.4 $30,775 $30,885
  All other states $362.5 $30,076 $12,055
  Total U.S. $1,313.0 $60,851 $21,578

Source: Insurance Information Institute, State Farm®.

Damage caused by lightning, such as fire, is covered by standard homeowners insurance policies.  Some homeowners policies provide coverage for power surges that are the direct result of a lightning strike. 

 

 

RELATED LINKS

Facts and Statistics: Lightning

Video: National Lightning Safety Awareness Week (June 19-25, 2022)

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

National Weather Service: Lightning Safety Tips and Resources

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