The flood disaster on the Rhine and the adjacent rivers is likely to become one of the most expensive insurance claims in Germany in recent years.

According to initial estimates, the insurance association GDV expects billions to be made to settle the damage in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia.

Philipp Krohn

Editor in business, responsible for “People and Business”.

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"We are currently counting on insured losses of four to five billion euros," said the general manager of the Association of the German Insurance Industry, Jörg Asmussen, on Wednesday in Berlin.

It is likely that the amount of damage will exceed that of the August floods in 2002.

At that time, the masses of water had triggered disbursements of 4.7 billion euros.

“This makes 'Bernd' one of the most devastating storms in the recent past,” said Asmussen.

This does not yet include the damage in Saxony and Bavaria from the flooding there.

In the coming week, the association wants to present an updated loss estimate.

Most of the damage from policies against natural hazards

"The majority of the insured damage comes from the (extended) elementary insurance, a smaller part from the motor vehicle and transport sector," said Onnen Siems, managing director of the actuary's office and industry specialist Meyerthole Siems Kohlruss.

“Natural hazards have only a small connection in residential buildings and especially in household insurance.

The same applies to commercial property risks. "

The insurer's amount of damage is thus significantly less than 40 percent of the theoretically insurable damage.

Insurers last paid the highest sums after the floods 19 and 8 years ago.

The winter storm Kyrill in 2007 is also remembered by the industry.

"This means that the return period for the loss event 'Bernd' is three to five years," said Siems: "After seven below-average years of damage, 2021 has the potential to exceed the long-term average of 3.7 billion euros for German insurers."

There have been years in history with higher water levels on the Ahr

This made the Ahr flood not the most serious in history.

"If you look in the history books, you will also find stronger summer floods in the Ahr in 1910 and 1804 with a similar damage pattern," said Siems.

Various insurance companies have now set up aid funds with which they want to improve the situation in the flood areas.

"Our role as a major insurer in the region goes beyond our responsibility for our customers," said Oliver Schoeller, CEO of the Gothaer Group.

“We will get involved in society in the next few weeks to support the reconstruction and to help people regain their livelihoods.” The funds from the fund, endowed with 500,000 euros, are to be used by local sales partners.

2021 is likely to be one of the most damaging years for insurers

"Overall, this year, with storms, floods, heavy rain and hail, should be the most damaging year since 2002," said GDV managing director Asmussen. Two decades ago, the insured storm damage amounted to 10.9 billion euros. He was reluctant to comment on the debate about compulsory insurance against natural hazards. "We reject it as an individual instrument because it takes away the incentive to protect yourself against flood and other extreme weather risks," he said.

Almost all owners in Germany have secured their residential buildings against storms and hail with their policies. In contrast, only 46 percent have insurance against other natural hazards such as heavy rain and floods. “It is gratifying that almost half of the building owners now have protection from other natural hazards. But for the others, they should review and adjust their insurance coverage, ”said Asmussen.