In 2020 there were 17 direct lightning fatalities, compared with 20 in 2019, according to the National Weather Service. From 2010 to 2019 on average, 26 people died each year from lightning strikes in the United States.
Florida and Texas were tied for the most lightning deaths in 2020 with three deaths, followed by two in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, according to statistics from National Weather Service. California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Montana and South Carolina each reported one lightning death. For more information on lightning claims and payouts, see the Homeowners Claims section.
For the fourth consecutive year, the number of lightning-caused U.S. homeowners insurance claims decreased in 2020 yet the average cost of those claims more than doubled since 2017, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I).
The number of lightning caused claims fell 6.9 percent to 71,551 claims in 2020 from 76,860 in 2019, while the value of those claims soared 124.6 percent from $920.1 million in 2019 to $2.1 billion in 2020. Lightning-related homeowners insurance claim costs nationally rose dramatically due to a series of lightning strikes across Northern California in 2020, according to the Triple-I. The average cost per lightning claim in California was $217,555 last year while the national average was $28,885 in 2020, up 141.3 percent from $11,971 in 2019.
From 2007 to 2011 (latest data available) local U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lighting, according to an analysis by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). These fires caused an average of nine civilian deaths and $451 million in direct property damage per year, according to the NFPA. Home fires accounted for 19 percent of the lightning fires, fires in non-residential structures, including businesses and other non-residential properties, accounted for 7 percent; vehicle fires accounted for 1 percent. The remaining 73 percent were in outdoor and unclassified properties.
Lightning fires in non-residential properties caused an average of $108 million in direct property damage each year from 2007 to 2011, according to the survey. The average annual damage in non-residential properties includes:
For more information on lightning, please see The Lightning Protection Institute.