By Martha C. White
July 9, 2015

They say lightning never strikes twice — which is a good thing, because it’s expensive when it does. Even though 2014 was a pretty mellow season for storms, lightning-related insurance claims shot up, according to new data from the Insurance Information Institute.

The trade group found that insurers paid out $739 million in lightning-related property damage claims last year, up about 10% from 2013, even though there were 13% fewer claims filed. And the average loss per claim grew by 26%, rising from $5,869 in 2013 to $7,400 last year.

Insurance experts blame our growing appetite for complex electronic devices.

“[The cost] has generally continued to rise, in part because of the huge increase in the number and value of consumer electronics in homes,” the Institute says. The group points out that adding lightning rods and surge protectors can help protect against lightning frying our electronics, but not everybody’s been getting the message.

“In addition, better protection systems may have eliminated some smaller claims, while larger claims remain that drive the average higher,” it says. Since 2010, the average cost per claim has ballooned by more than 50%, the Insurance Institute says.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Southern states bear the brunt of lightning-induced damage. Florida was the top state for claims last year, followed by Georgia, Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina, respectively. The top 10 states for lightning claims made up just under half of all claims paid.

While overall losses are still down compared to four years ago, as we keep adding more gadgets and devices, it’s unclear if this rising trend is here to stay. In a release, the Insurance Institute points out that this week is Lightning Safety Awareness Week, and suggests homeowners go to the Lightning Protection Institute for tips on how to protect their homes (and electronics).

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