I.I.I. Reports Lightning Claims Down in 2014 While Severity Rises

June 23, 2015

The number of insurance claims from lightning strikes in the United States continued its steady decline, as severe thunderstorm activity eased from near-record levels and dry weather prevailed throughout much of the western half of the country. Despite fewer storms, insurers still paid $739 million in lightning claims to nearly 100,000 policyholders in 2014, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Total insured losses from lightning were up 9.7 percent from 2013, though overall incurred losses between 2010 and 2014 are still down 28.5 percent.lightning

An analysis of homeowners insurance data by the I.I.I. and State Farm® found there were 99,871 insurer-paid lightning claims in 2014, down 13 percent from 2013. Yet the average lightning paid-claim amount was up 26 percent, from $5,869 in 2013 to $7,400 in 2014.

The drop in the number of claims is consistent with data from the National Weather Service, which recorded 127 days in 2014 in which lightning caused property damage, while 137 such days were recorded in 2013.

“The incidence of lightning claims last year is a continuation of a downward trend,” said James Lynch, FCAS MAAA, director of Information Services and chief actuary at the I.I.I. “Since 2010, the number of paid lightning claims is down more than 53 percent. The sustained decline in the number of claims may be attributed to an increased use of lightning protection systems, technological advances, better lightning protection and awareness of lightning safety—as well as to fewer storms.”

“While this is good news for homeowners, lightning is still an extremely costly weather-related event,” warned Lynch.


Year Value of Claims

($ millions)

Number of claims Average cost

per claim

2010 $1,033.5 213,278 $4,846
2011 952.5 186,307 5,112
2012 969.0 151,000 6,400
2013 673.5 114,740 5,869
2014 739.0 99,871 7,400
% change, 2013-2014 9.7% -13.0% 26.1%
% change, 2010-2014 -28.5% -53.2% 52.7%

Source: Insurance Information Institute, State Farm.

Despite the drop in the number of paid claims in 2014, the average cost per claim rose nearly 53 percent from 2010 to 2014. By comparison, the consumer price index rose by 8.6 percent in the same period.

The average cost per claim is volatile from year to year, Lynch noted, but it has generally continued to rise, in part because of the huge increase in the number and value of consumer electronics in homes. In addition, better protection systems may have eliminated some smaller claims, while larger claims remain that drive the average higher.

Florida was the top state for lightning claims in 2014, with 10,440, followed by Georgia, Texas and Louisiana.


State Number of claims Average cost per claim Value of claims ($millions)
FL 10,440 $7,075 $73.9
GA 9,805 6,341 62.2
TX 5,622 10,671 60.0
LA 5,007 5,009 25.1
NC 4,886 5,891 28.8
AL 4,853 8,079 39.2
IL 4,049 6,348 25.7
PA 3,960 5,491 21.7
TN 3,638 8,583 31.2
IN 3,262 6,832 22.3
Top 10 55,522 7,025 $390.1
Other 44,349 7,869 $349.0
USA 99,871 7,400 $739.0

Source: Insurance Information Institute, State Farm.

Source: I.I.I.

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