Lightning Caused $1.3 Billion in Homeowners Insurance Claims Last Year

U.S. homeowners insurers paid out $1.31 billion in claims caused by lightning damage last year, down 36.5% from 2020, according to a report by the Insurance Information Institute (III). The total number of lightning-caused claims and the average cost per claim also fell year over year.

The Numbers

Insurers paid claims to more than 60,000 policyholders last year, down 15% from 2020. The average cost per claim fell 25.3% to $21,578.

Last year, a downward trend continued in the number of lightning-caused claims over a five-year period. Claims totals fell each year from the 85,000 recorded in 2017. However, the total value of claims increased by 43.3%, and the average cost per claim rose 100.1% from 2017.

“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,” Loretta Worters, III vice president of media relations, said in a statement.

According to the report, California’s CZU Lightning Complex fire, which was sparked by lightning, in part caused the outsized 2020 nationwide insured loss payout number. Notably, lightning is the culprit behind a wildfire currently burning in the southwest part of Alaska.

“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,” Worters explained. “The resulting damage may be far more significant than a homeowner realizes. Delays in [the] supply chain are also sending appliances and electronics prices higher.”

California alone accounted for more than 40% of lightning-caused claims last year at $522.6 million. It also had the highest average cost per claim at $154,574.

Florida, the state with the most thunderstorms, remained the top state for total number of lightning claims last year at 5,339. Rounding out the top five were Texas, Georgia, California and New York.