Officials have only begun to tally economic and insured losses after widespread flooding hit much of France, Germany and parts of Belgium. But catastrophe-modeling firm AIR Worldwide said the disruption and damage was widespread and under atypical circumstances.
AIR, a Verisk Analytics business, said that flood is the most costly of all natural hazards. What is even more unusual about this stretch of flooding, however, is it has involved flash flooding outside of floodplains.
“AIR expects much of the loss from this event to occur outside of floodplains,” AIR said. “Smaller claims from off-floodplain losses can add up to a significant portion of total insurance losses.”
The problem stems from widespread localized flooding caused by slow-moving thunderstorms that hit between May 27 and June 7. Here is the AIR Worldwide damage roundup by country:
France. AIR Worldwide noted that some areas in central France faced up to 16 inches of rain during the period (almost 60 percent of the average annual precipitation). Hard hit areas occurred in the Loiret region and along the Seine, and Paris had its wettest May since 1873. On June 2, the Seine overflowed its banks in Paris, and President Francois Hollande declared a “state of natural disaster” in the city.
More than 24,000 homes lost power in the Paris and Loiret regions, with several thousand still without power as of June 8. Rail transportation faced disruptions and tourist boat cruise cancellations were among the added flood-related problems. The Louvre museum moved 150,000 works to safety on June 3 before reopening on June 8.
Germany. While major rivers in Germany didn’t hit flood stage, smaller rivers and creeks went from below average to flood levels within a matter of hours. Bernhard Reinhardt, senior client services associate for AIR Worldwide, noted in prepared remarks that many areas of the country outside of floodplains faced flash flooding, including a number of towns.
Belgium. Northern Antwerp and west of Flanders endured extensive flooding, and several neighborhoods in Limburg and Liege had to be evacuated. On June 2, Brussels-Limburg train service was temporarily suspended.
AIR said that direct insurance covers flood in France, which can then be ceded to reinsurers. In Germany, the average flood insurance take-up rate for residential buildings in Germay hit about 38 percent, though it varies widely from state to state. Belgium typically has flood covered by direct insurance, and it is guaranteed to be covered under “simple risk” fire policies.”
Source: AIR Worldwide