Insurers: prevention still plays too little role | Free press

The floods in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate devastated entire regions. Nevertheless, many victims who have lost their home there are building a new one on the same site.


According to insurers, after the floods in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia last year, many victims are rebuilding their dilapidated homes on the same site, despite the dangers in particularly hit regions.

“With the exception of 34 houses, all the houses on Erft and Ahr will be rebuilt on the same site,” said Jörg Asmussen, general manager of the General Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV), on Wednesday in Berlin.

However, there is no sign of a general reluctance on the part of victims to build in less vulnerable regions, said Annegret Thieken, professor of natural hazard research at the University of Potsdam. Other factors are decisive. “On the one hand, we have to take into account that those affected want to recover as quickly as possible in order to return to everyday life as quickly as possible.” The long search for new locations is a deterrent.

The head of GDV calls for new concepts

“In addition, the availability of space in the valleys is not always given,” emphasized Thieken. In some places, potential alternative construction sites are limited because they are in landscape protection areas and cannot be easily changed. “This is a mixed situation that is not easy to respond to,” said the researcher. “We need new concepts.”

The head of GDV Asmussen also demanded this. “We believe this is missing out on being much better and more resilient,” he said. Reconstruction in the regions shows that prevention still plays “far too little role, both at the level of municipalities and in the households themselves”. Statistically, according to GDV information, extreme weather situations will appear more and more often in the future.

8.5 billion euros in insurance damage

The natural disaster, which killed dozens last year, caused insurance losses of around 8.5 billion euros. According to GDV, insurers have already paid out around five billion euros. Rebuilding continues for the remainder of a quarter of the failure cases. Increased material costs due to inflation and long waiting times for craftsmen often delay repairs, Asmussen emphasized.

As a result, the total value of the insured buildings increases, and thus the costs of insurance. GDV therefore assumes that contributions for the insured will also increase from the coming year. Asmussen reiterated the negative position of the association on possible compulsory natural hazard insurance to cover the damage caused by natural hazards.

However, the insured losses from last year’s flood disaster represent only a small part of the total loss. According to experts, at the beginning of this year it was at least EUR 33 billion. (dpa)

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