Natural disasters mean record year for German insurance payouts | News | DW

German insurers paid out record sums in 2021 after high losses incurred by natural disasters, an industry group announced on Monday.

The cost of floods, storms and other disasters led to payouts of about €12.5 billion ($14.2 billion) for insured houses, household goods, businesses and motor vehicles, according to the German Insurance Association (GDV).

The bulk of that figure (€8.2 billion) came from the July floods that devastated areas of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia and killed more than 180 people. The floods triggered a discussion about compulsory insurance for natural hazards, as well as restrictions on building in flood-prone areas.

Severe hailstorms in June also caused millions of euros in damage, particularly to vehicles.

These made 2021 “the most expensive natural hazard year since statistics began in the early 1970s,” GDV CEO Jörg Asmussen said.

The 2021 payouts even came ahead of 2002, when August floods and devastating storms contributed to an annual total of €11.3 billion in payouts. 

According to the German insurance industry, the long-term average is €3.8 billion per year.

Climate change worsening disasters

Thanks to climate change, researchers expect losses from floods, hail or severe storms to increase in countries such as Germany in the coming years.

Insurance giant Swiss Re estimated earlier this month that natural disasters had caused $105 billion in damages globally, with hurricane Ida in the US costing $30-32 billion.

Also on Monday, UK charity Christian Aid estimated that the 10 most expensive weather disasters caused more than $170 billion in damages in 2021 — $20 billion more than in 2020.

In its annual assessment, it said the 10 events were worsened by man-made climate change and together killed at least 1,075 people and displaced 1.3 million.

The most expensive events included Hurricane Ida, flooding in Germany and Belgium (which it estimated at $43 billion in losses), winter storms in Texas, flooding in China’s Henan province, flooding in Canada, late spring frosts in France and a cyclone in India and Bangladesh.

“The costs of climate change have been grave this year,” said Kat Kramer, climate policy lead at Christian Aid.

aw/msh (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP)

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