Home insurance study: Average lightning claim exceeds $5,100
Homeowners, beware. Lightning could zap your finances, especially with so many electronic gadgets in our homes these days.
U.S. lightning strikes triggered nearly $1 billion in insured losses in 2011, according to an analysis of homeowner’s insurance data by the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute and insurance giant State Farm.
The analysis showed that more than 186,000 lightning-related claims were filed in 2011, down nearly 13 percent from 2010. The Insurance Information Institute put the average lightning claim at $5,112 in 2011, up nearly 6 percent from 2010. The average claim in 2010 totaled $4,846.
The average cost per claim rose 93 percent from 2004 to 2011, even as the actual number of paid claims dropped by more than 33 percent over the seven-year period. The average cost per claim can be attributed, in part, to the growing array of valuable consumer electronics in people’s homes.
“Plasma and high-definition television sets, home entertainment centers, multiple computer households, smartphones, gaming systems and other expensive devices — which can all be destroyed by power surges — continue to have a significant impact on claims losses,” says Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute.
Damage caused by lightning, such as a fire, is covered by standard homeowner’s and business insurance policies. Some home and business insurance policies provide coverage for power surges resulting directly from lightning strikes. For cars, lightning damage is covered by the optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy.
“While it’s true that lightning losses are generally a covered peril in most property insurance policies, there are treasured belongings that homeowners can’t replace or restore,” Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), said in 2010. “Lightning protection is often one of the least expensive improvements that homeowners can purchase, and it can provide the best type of insurance — peace of mind and protection for family, home and valuables.”
To protect your home or business from lightning strikes, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety recommends installing a lightning protection system and making sure that all electronic equipment is approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
“A lightning strike to an unprotected structure can cause catastrophic damage,” Julie Rochman, president and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, said in late 2011. “Fortunately, there are relatively simple, inexpensive steps that can be taken to substantially reduce the chances of lightning-related damage and disruptions.”
In 2010, 29 lightning-related deaths were reported in the United States, down from 34 the previous year, according to the National Weather Service.