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Insurability and Mitigation of Flood Losses in Private Households in Germany

Authors


*Address correspondence to Dr. Annegret H. Thieken, GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Section 5.4: Engineering Hydrology, Telegrafenberg F 327, D-14473 Potsdam, Germany; tel: +49-331-288-1513; fax: +49-331-288-1570; thieken@gfzpotsdam.de.

Abstract

In Germany, flood insurance is provided by private insurers as a supplement to building or contents insurance. This article presents the results of a survey of insurance companies with regard to eligibility conditions for flood insurance changes after August 2002, when a severe flood caused 1.8 billion euro of insured losses in the Elbe and the Danube catchment areas, and the general role of insurance in flood risk management in Germany. Besides insurance coverage, governmental funding and public donations played an important role in loss compensation after the August 2002 flood. Therefore, this article also analyzes flood loss compensation, risk awareness, and mitigation in insured and uninsured private households. Insured households received loss compensation earlier. They also showed slightly better risk awareness and mitigation strategies. Appropriate incentives should be combined with flood insurance in order to strengthen future private flood loss mitigation. However, there is some evidence that the surveyed insurance companies do little to encourage precautionary measures. To overcome this problem, flood hazards and mitigation strategies should be better communicated to both insurance companies and property owners.

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