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States with the most lightning damage
By Insure.com staff

Georgia topped the states for the number of home insurance claims filed for lightning strikes last year, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).

Georgia residents filed 11,184 claims, and insurers paid out $56 million.

Texas came in at No. 2 with 6,419 claims and $54.2 million in insured losses for lightning strikes, followed by North Carolina with 5,711 claims and $34.1 million in insured losses.

Texas, where the average claim cost insurers $8,436, suffered the most expensive losses per claim.

Overall home insurance claims for lightning damage fell to their lowest level in a decade last year, the III said. Insurers paid out $673.5 million to more than 100,000 policyholders in 2013, down 31 percent from 2012 and down 8.4 percent from 2004. Insured losses for lightning strikes peaked in 2008, when insurers paid out $1.1 billion to policyholders for lightning strikes.

The number of claims and the average paid-claim amount also fell in 2013. An analysis by III and State Farm found there were 114,740 insurer-paid lightning claims last year, down 24 percent from 2012. The average paid-claim amount slipped 8.3 percent to $5,869 in 2013 from $6,400 in 2012.

Overall the number of paid lightning claims is down almost 60 percent since 2004. III said the decline may be due to the growing use of lightning-protection systems, technology advances, better lightning protection and awareness of lightning safety as well as fewer lightning storms.

"While this is good news for homeowners, lightning is still an extremely costly weather-related event," the institute warned.

While the number of paid claims dropped, the average cost per claim skyrocketed by almost 122 percent from 2004 to 2013, according to the III. By comparison, the Consumer Price Index rose by 23 percent in the same period.

Standard homeowners and business insurance covers damage caused by lightning, such as fire. Some policies also cover damage from power surges that are direct results of lightning strikes. Comprehensive auto insurance covers lightning damage to cars.

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