Triple-I Weblog | Value of Lightning-Brought about Claims Soared On account of 2020’s U.S. Wildfires

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From Loretta Worters, Vice President, Media Relations, Triple-I

For the fourth year in a row, US home insurance claims declined in 2020, although the average value of those claims has more than doubled since 2017, according to Triple-I’s analysis of national insurance claims data.

Due to a series of lightning strikes across Northern California in 2020, the cost of homeowner insurance related to lightning strikes increased dramatically across the country. The average cost per lightning damage in California in 2020 was $ 217,555, while the national average for this type of damage was nearly $ 29,000.

Triple I also found that:

  • More than $ 2 billion in US homeowner insurance claims caused by lightning were paid out to over 71,000 policyholders in 2020
  • The average cost of damage caused by a lightning strike to home insurance in the United States increased 141 percent (from $ 11,971 to $ 28,885) between 2019 and 2020 and 168 percent (from $ 10,781) between 2017 and 2020 $ 28,885).
  • The average number of US home insurance claims caused by lightning fell nearly 7 percent between 2019 and 2020 (from 76,860 to 71,551).

The wildfires in California and elsewhere damaged homes that either had to be repaired or rebuilt using more expensive building materials. The National Association of Home Builders reported that wood prices rose more than 170 percent nationwide between mid-April and mid-September 2020, increasing the price of a typical new single-family home by $ 16,148.

The August Complex Fire, which was triggered by lightning strikes in August 2020, was the largest in California history, defined by acres burned, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). It stretched over 1 million acres and affected seven counties.

State-by-state numbers

Florida – which has the most thunderstorms – remained the top state for lightning-related homeowner insurance claims in 2020 at 6,756, followed by Georgia (4,686), Texas (4,675) and California (4,233).

Homeowner Insurance Cover

Damage caused by lightning strikes leading to a fire is covered by standard household insurance. Some policies provide cover for power surges that are the direct result of a lightning strike that can cause serious damage to equipment, electronics, computers and appliances, telephone systems, electrical appliances, and the electrical foundation of a home.

In recognition Lightning Safety Awareness Week, May 20-26 June, Triple-I, and the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI), a national organization that sets standards for the specification and installation of lightning protection systems and promotes lightning safety, encourage homeowners to install lightning protection systems in their homes.

“When we think of lightning safety, we should differentiate between personal and property protection,” said Tim Harger, Executive Director of LPI. “Personal safety is what we do during a storm and the safest place in any lightning event is in a structure that is protected by a properly designed, tested and certified lightning protection system,” he said. “Installing lightning protection systems in our homes or businesses is a measure we can take before a storm to mitigate property damage.”