Climate change: more damage from lightning strikes

Insurers submit new study

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Due to climate change, an increase in lightning activity must be expected in Germany in the future. This could lead to significantly more damage to electronic devices such as computers or televisions. This has now been pointed out by the German Insurance Association (GDV).


Already in 2006, German insurers paid around 240 million euros for around 450, 000 surplus losses. In the last five years, they have spent a total of around one billion euros for such lightning strikes. In order to clarify up to which distance between the place of impact of the lightning and damage location a damage can occur, the GDV at the Aachen University of Applied Sciences has commissioned a scientific study.

"Not only the distance to the impact of lightning, but also the building density plays a major role in the assessment of surge damage, " said the head of the study Professor Alexander Kern at the presentation of the results in Berlin. In principle, a distinction must be made between two types of damage, namely damages caused by near impacts, which lead to overvoltages within the in-house energy supply and information technology networks, and such damages, which result from an overload of the supply lines in the external area, Kern continues.

More security for customers and insurers

In addition, it must be taken into account which electronic device is concerned and whether this is only connected to a supply network (such as household appliances) or to several supply networks (TV, PC). display

Commenting on the significance of the study for the insurance industry, Klaus Ross, spokesman for the working group "Lightning and Overvoltage Damage" in the GDV, said: "The results of the study create more security for customers and insurers, as insurers are now able to differentiate and thus more appropriately to concrete Damage cases to respond. This will improve claims settlement and, in some cases, accelerate it. "

Based on the study results, surge damage can be better estimated, so that they remain insurable in the future.

The most important results of the study in detail:

  • If a lightning strikes at a distance of more than 3, 000 meters from the point of damage, the occurrence of damage to electronic devices is highly unlikely.
  • Individual, detached buildings connected to the power supply by means of their own spur line may be subject to overvoltage damage under unfavorable conditions up to a distance of 3, 000 meters from the point of impact of the lightning.
  • In rural areas, damage greater than 2, 000 meters is unlikely to occur, dropping to 1, 500 meters in urban / suburban areas.
  • Devices that have two wired connections, such as computers with power and network cables, can be more sensitive to induced surges than single-port devices (such as a washing machine).

(German Insurance Association (GDV), 17.07.2007 - DLO)