Georgia Tops Nation in Lightning Claims

By Kelly Gilblom | June 24, 2014

Georgia tops a shocking list: most likely place to have property damaged by lightning.

Georgia residents were reimbursed for $56 million of lightning-related damage in homes last year tied to more than 11,000 claims, according to a top-10 list from the Insurance Information Institute. Texas ranked second at $54.2 million.

lightningOnce lightning is “in the wiring, it’s electrifying anything connected to that,” John Jensenius, a lightning-safety specialist at the National Weather Service, said today in a phone interview. “Televisions, and even things like microwaves, they all have little chips in them so they all can get fried pretty easily.”

Lightning cost insurers $5,869 per claim in the U.S. last year, more than double the average in 2004, as homeowners added electronics such as computers and high-definition televisions. Still, the total expense for the industry declined 8.4 percent nationwide in that span, to $673.5 million in 2013, because better lightning-protection systems and fewer storms decreased the frequency of claims, the industry group said.

Warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean make states in the U.S. Southeast more prone to thunderstorms, Jensenius said. North Carolina had the third-most claims, and Louisiana ranked fourth. The storms are most frequent in the U.S. in the spring and summer months, and this week is Lightning Safety Awareness Week.

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