COMITÉ EUROPÉEN DES ASSURANCES. Flood Prevention in Europe The Role of the Insurance Industry

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1 COMITÉ EUROPÉEN DES ASSURANCES SECRETARIAT GENERAL 3bis, rue de la Chaussée d'antin F Paris Tél. : Fax : Web : cea.assur.org DELEGATION A BRUXELLES Square de Meeûs, 29 B 1000 Bruxelles Tél. : Fax : Web : cea.assur.org PROPERTY INSURANCE COMMITTEE Flood Prevention in Europe The Role of the Insurance Industry June 2005 Copyright by CEA 3 bis, rue de la Chaussée d Antin PARIS 1

2 FLOOD PREVENTION IN EUROPE THE ROLE OF THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY 1. Summary 1.1 To complement existing work on flood management, this report produced by the CEA Expert Group on Flood and storm prevention focuses on the role of the insurance industry in encouraging flood prevention action in different European countries. 1.2 The report identifies the key elements of the prevention cycle where insurance could have the most substantial influence including aspects of loss reduction (where to build and what to build), emergency planning, and improving risk knowledge following a flood event (lessons learned) 1.3 Insurers have direct contact with customers in flood risk areas, and able to promote flood prevention measures through publicity, guidance on propertylevel measures, and increased risk awareness. 1.4 works closely with public authorities to encourage action on reducing flood risk, including developing guidance on technical standards for flood loss prevention. 2. Introduction 2.1 The European Commission published a Communication on Flood Risk Management in July Here the Commission highlighted some of the socio-economic impacts of flooding on Member States, and outlined a coordinated approach to managing flood risk across Europe. Key facts outlined in the report include: Since 1998, European countries have experienced over 100 major floods, including the devastating floods along the Danube and Elbe rivers in the summer of 2002, the September 2002 and December 2003 floods in south east of France and the autumn 2000 floods in the United Kingdom (UK). These floods have led to more than 700 fatalities, displacement of around 500,000 people from their homes, and insured losses of more than 25 billion The assets at risk from flooding can be very significant. For example, more than 10 million people live in areas at risk of flooding along the Rhine, and the potential damage from floods amounts to 165 billion. 1 Flood risk management, flood prevention, protection and mitigation, Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, July 2004, 2 Mapping the impacts of recent natural disasters and technological accidents in Europe, European Environment Agency, March 2004, 2

3 2.3 Furthermore, the risk of flooding is increasing due to climate change 3 and increasing development in the floodplain. Annual rainfall in northern Europe has already increased by % in the last 100 years, with a further 1 2 % increase per decade predicted in the future 4. Urban land which could exacerbate flood risk since it may be located in flood-prone areas - expanded by 20 % in the last 20 years Flooding is a natural event and the risk can never be eliminated completely. However, flood risk can be managed. The likelihood of an event occurring can be reduced through flood alleviation schemes. These could take the form of conventional hard engineering solutions, such as river walls and embankments, or soft solutions, such as the use of agricultural or marginal land for occasional flood storage. 2.5 The consequences of flooding can be reduced by minimising the impact of floodwaters on people, and their property and land. The Water Directors of the European Union recently produced a best practice document on flood prevention, protection and mitigation Role of insurance in flood prevention 3.1 has a strong interest in effective risk management, and works actively to encourage policies and actions that manage flood risk to people and property. The CEA is taking forward a number of workstrands to examine how activities of the insurance industry contribute to effective management of flood risk in Europe (see Table below). Working Group Report Synthesis Natural Events The insurance of natural events on European markets (June 2005) Experience of markets in relation to flood risk cartography and zoning (June 2005) Natural events Reinsurance Equalisation provisions EU Solidarity fund (COM(2002) 514 final Storm cover is commonplace in the market, but flood cover less so. Markets with state involvement in flood insurance may have greater penetration of cover, but not always. Many markets have now developed quite sophisticated techniques for flood risk mapping although the degree of public-private partnership varies between markets. Specific reinsurance systems in some countries (FR/TR); Pools in NO and CH. In other countries, insurance companies approach reinsurers on their market European insurers position on the proposal for a Council regulation establishing the EU Solidarity Fund 3 Assessment of potential effects and adaptations for climate change in Europe, The Europe Acacia Project, European Commission Research DG, Impacts of Europe s changing climate: an indicator-based assessment, European Environment Agency, August 2004, 5 Mapping the impacts of recent natural disasters and technological accidents in Europe, European Environment Agency, March 2004, 6 Best practices on flood prevention, protection and mitigation, Water Directors of the European Union, Norway, Switzerland and Candidate Countries, July 2004, 3

4 Catastrophe Claims Management Report on best practice solutions Comparison of systems for dealing with emergency events, particularly on a large scale. 3.2 To complement existing work on flood management, this report produced by the CEA Expert Group on Flood and storm prevention focuses on the role of the insurance industry in encouraging flood prevention action in different European countries by: (i) public bodies such as the Government and local authorities, (ii) other industries such as construction sector; and (iii) customers/policy-holders. The report concludes with an analysis of the approaches that have proved most effective to date. 3.3 The report identifies the key elements of the prevention cycle where insurance could have the most substantial influence including aspects of loss reduction (where to build and what to build), emergency planning, and improving risk knowledge following a flood event (lessons learned). 4. Land use planning 4.1 The planning system plays a central role in mediating society s exposure to flood risk. Avoiding building new developments in flood risk areas is the most sustainable solution to managing flood risk in the long term. New infrastructure is typically designed to be in place for many decades, and could involve greater investment in flood protection measures if new developments are built in flood risk locations. 4.2 Many European countries have legislation or planning policies for flood risk locations to deter inappropriate new development. These could be stronger and clearer in some cases. 4.3 is a strong force in contributing towards a more sustainable approach to land-use planning. The key areas where the industry can play an important role in discouraging development in flood risk locations include: Risk mapping. has helped to drive the development of improved flood risk mapping tools within European markets. Better information on risk improves public understanding and awareness of flood risk, and could help encourage the market to value properties in low flood risk locations more highly. These kinds of market-forces could even encourage speculative developers to avoid building in areas where the flood risk is already high and could increase in the future due to climate change. Risk pricing. Some European insurance markets are starting to include flood risk in underwriting practices, particularly as reinsurers are placing greater emphasis on this approach. Increased use of riskbased pricing in insurance markets could prove an important mechanism for making society more aware of the risks that it faces and the steps needed to reduce risks in the future. Customers that currently face a lower risk, perhaps through their own actions to manage and avoid risk, will typically face lower premiums. 4

5 Political and public influence. Market forces can only drive action on flood prevention part of the way. Action in anticipation needs to be pro-actively driven by the insurance industry working with the public bodies and other parts of the private sector to ensure that Europeans are resilient to the impacts of flooding. The valuable role that insurance plays in spreading risk between individuals could be used as a key lever to engage with the public sector on how to manage and avoid flooding risks. 5. Building and technical standards 5.1 There is already a substantial amount of property and land in flood risk locations across Europe, and preventing all new development in floodplains is not feasible. Therefore, land-use planning policy should be complemented by actions to improve the resilience of buildings located in flood risk locations. In that way, when land is flooded, the impacts and costs of damage to people and property are reduced. 5.2 In many European countries, the Government has developed either mandatory regulations or good-practice guidance for construction standards for buildings in flood risk locations. These have been complemented for European-level building codes (Euro-Codes) for storm and flood prevention. 5.3 also influences the quality and durability of buildings located in flood risk locations. Market-forces. By factoring into underwriting practices, the type and quality of construction, and the use of flood protection products and flood resilient measures, the insurance industry could encourage the construction industry and the public to support development of suitable preventative measures for damage limitation for property in flood risk locations. Detailed guidance. Insurance can be an important lever for the development of best-practice. In several European markets, the insurance industry has produced recommendations for technical standards in the construction of property or in the use of flood protection products. Standards of repair. As the insurance industry is typically responsible for repairing property after a flood, insurance companies can contribute to improving of the resilience of properties in the future through the repair process. 6. Event preparedness 6.1 Actions by individuals before, during and after a flood can substantially reduce the impacts of the event on people s lives. Some of these issues are being considered by the CEA Working Group on Catastrophe Claims Management. 6.2 As Governments typically have a duty of care to their citizens, many countries now have produced detailed information on how to prepare for a 5

6 flood and have developed emergency planning procedures to reduce the impacts of flooding on local communities. 6.3 However, the insurance industry has a direct interface with its customers and provides much practical guidance and information for the public for example, how to organise the inside of a property to minimise flood damage, and emergency procedures during a flood to reduce risks to property and people. 7. Improved risk knowledge following a flood (lessons learned) 7.1 After a flood, public authorities work to pull together a clear picture of the event, including its cost and the proximate causes. All the evidence is pulled together to understand how a similar event could be prevented in the future, and produce a set of recommendations to reduce flood risk. 7.2 contributes to this review by providing public authorities with the size and number of flood claims. 7.3 Furthermore, in handling customers claims, insurers can develop a good understanding of the series of events that led to the flood, and provide public authorities with details of the causes of the flood. This information could play a central role in preventing a similar event in the future. 7.4 In some European markets, the insurance industry has acted on this information to establish legal liability and retrieve the costs of the flood from the responsible authority. 8. Conclusions and Recommendations 8.1 plays a key role in many aspects of flood prevention. Risk awareness and communication. Insurers have direct contact with customers in flood risk areas, and able to promote flood prevention measures through publicity, and guidance on propertylevel measures. Establishment of formal bodies or projects. In many markets, the insurance industry has developed a formal body or project tasked with risk knowledge and/or prevention, e.g. Missions Risques Naturels in France. Such a body may also develop technical standards for risk mapping/zoning and/or prevention measures. Working in partnership. Public authorities hold the central responsibility for reducing flood risk locally and nationally. In many cases, the insurance industry works closely with public authorities to help learn lessons from flood-events to prevent similar such events in the future, and encourage the uptake of property-level flood prevention measures. 8.2 In order to enhance further the role of the European insurance industry in flood prevention, the CEA might consider: 6

7 Expanding the scope of this report to consider good-practice by the insurance industry in flood prevention in other European markets. Sharing detailed guidance on technical standards for flood prevention produced by the insurance industry in particular European markets, with a view to development of specific recommendations for European technical standards. Producing a similar report on prevention for storm and heavy rain. 8.3 The expert group considers that this report should be updated after two years in order to consider further experiences and findings from other insurance markets. 7

8 9. Summary Tables 9.1 Land use planning Action UK France Germany Italy Norway Switzerland Government policy and action The Government is committed to ensuring that its development and planning policy seeks where possible to reduce, and certainly not to add to, the overall level of flood risk. Its planning policy guidance sets out a sequential test to encourage local authorities to allow development to proceed in the lowest risk locations first 7. Laws: , 95 and 2003, as background to government policy. Quantitative objective: 5,000 Plans de Prevention des Risques (PPR) approved in Action plan to support development of water retention basins by flood plain retention authorities. The federal flood protection law is now passed by federal council of Germany. In accordance with this regulation and the federal water acts the building in flood hazard zones, which are to define by the concerning federal states and communities, is not allowed, apart from some exceptions (for example agricultural using). To support the start up of a voluntary system for a CAT-NAT (natural events) Insurance - only for residential buildings - an article of the recent financial Law 2005 provided for the establishment of a State fund (50 billion Euro for the year 2005) operating as reinsurer. An implementation law will follow. Federal building acts regulates construction in possible flood hazard zones, with some exception for special conditions. Act on natural damage regulates municipal responsibility for precautions against natural perils. The Government states a policy, which is put into action by the cantons and the communities. In case of floods, a solid relief program will be put up, composed by the Swiss confederation, the cantons and several NGO s. Normally all the buildings are insured either by private or national insurers, the material assets only by private insurers. The power of regulation is normally in the hands of the cantons because Switzerland is a federal state. Risk Mapping Flood risk maps produced by Environment Agency 9, and used by insurers to underpin their agreement with the Government on continued availability of cover 10. Flood hazard maps and regulatory flood risk zoning maps produced by public authorities, as parts of PPR file. Becoming available to public and insurers. Insurance limitations according to zoning produced flooding risk maps with different classification 11 based on flood risk maps produced by Environment Agency 12 ANIA has set up the SIGRA project for monitoring Italian territory s flood risk. Probably, in three years will be defined new zone mapping. Then, it will be used by insurers to cover the flood risks. Flood risk maps are produced by NVE and are available for municipal planning. Mapping for km of total km to be finished by end 2006 (defined risk areas in three categories) Also the responsibility to create risk maps is on the shoulders of the cantons and the communities. They should be open to all interested parties. 7 Planning Policy Guidance 25: Development and flood risk, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, December 2001, 8 (L & 5, L to 565-2) ABI Statement of Principles, Association of British Insurers, September 2002,

9 Risk Pricing Insurers have complete freedom in determining pricing and terms, and are increasingly using an assessment of risk to price their products. Fixed over rider and deductible by administration. Exceptions (case by case) : majority deductible. Insurers have complete freedom in determining pricing and terms, and are increasingly using risk assessment to price their products, which is based on the flooding risk maps Insurers are completely free determine pricing and terms. Insurance against natural perils is mandatory through The Norwegian Natural Perils Pool, pricing is equal throughout the country. The premiums are approved by the federal office of the private insurers and used in a standardized way. Political and public influence published its own guidelines on the standards of protection recommended for developments in the floodplain 13. To that degree, the guidance states that the minimum level of protection that would enable insurers to offer cover at normal terms for residential properties is a 0.5 % annual probability of flooding, after taking climate change into account. Typical Public-Private Partnership. MRN (association supported by insurance market players) as technical interface between insurance and public authorities. Insurance market represented in : - management board of Barnier fund (to subsidize risk reduction initiatives by policyholders ; - natural hazards prevention advisory boards at prefecture level. With reference to land using the insurance industry remind expressly in their guidance to renouncement of building in hazard zones 9.2 Building standards Action UK France Germany Italy Norway Switzerland Government policy and action The Government has produced detailed nonmandatory guidance on how to improve the resilience of property in flood risk areas to flooding 14. Most technical prescriptions are part of PPR rules. Additional non mandatory guidance for specific equipments such as mobile flood protections. Several federal states produced detailed guidance on how to reduce economic and environmental damage, p.a. Hochwasserfibel 15 Research project by Federal Environment Government directives through building regulations has followed the practice in the building industry and increased the regulation on several aspects, like snow capacity on roofs, Every community has guidelines concerning land / property using (but no guidelines for the construction of buildings). Standards of constructions exist only in the field of fire protection 13 Development planning and flood risk (PPG25): ABI guidance on insurance issues, Association of British Insurers, July 2002, 14 Preparing for floods, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, October 2003,

10 Agency on hazard for facilities with water pollutants and flammable gases by impacts of flooding, storm, earthquake and land subsidence building capacity for wind stress, placing of buildings and so forth. and earthquake. Market forces Specific risk engineering approaches on case by case basis for corporate risks only. Many products, systems and planning services for protecting measures are offered. But there are no standards to check the at least required quality. has produced a report on construction standards required to withstand weather damage, and set out weightings to assist companies in their underwriting for weather events risks in different property types. has been active towards municipal authorities, publishing several juridical reports on liability in regard of events by natural perils, by seminars and actual handling of rescue after avalanches and landslides. Some major insurers have taken municipal authorities to court for liability in regard of building license after such incidents. The results vary, but the municipal authorities seem to be increasingly aware of their responsibilities (and the possible consequence). The national insurers produced guidelines for the construction of buildings concerning natural event protection (these guidelines are not laws). The private insurers produce flood protection guidelines for the public in the sense of educational work. Detailed guidance supported production of a national standard (British Standards Institute kitemark ) for floodprotection products 16. Cf. supra For personal lines, guidance is expected from PPR. The Association of German Engineers (VDI) produces technical guidance (VDI 6004) on how to reduce damages by construction and building services engineering for the impacts of flooding, lightning and another natural hazard 17 No standards at the moment. The national insures standards deal with the vulnerable parts of the property and offer ways to minimise the risk of flood damage. Standards of Many insurance companies are willing to Guidance produced by public authorities in No special standards of repair A new working group has been crated by ANIA to Many insurance companies are willing to There are no general

11 repair work with customers in reinstating their homes to flood-resilient standards following damage, provided this does not cost more than the repairs covered in the insurance contract. If the cost of flood proofing is substantially greater than standard repairs, then insurers will provide funds equivalent to the standard repair. The insurance industry has recently produced an analysis of the most costeffective measures 18. cooperation with insurance sector : Cf. sample publication 19 Working group of loss adjusters with flood plain managers to produce public standards. According to recommendation of insurance industry repair should only be executed in coordination with the concerning insurer and by professional study prevention guidelines for construction building in flooding area. work with customers in reinstating their buildings with materials/solutions better resistant to flooding, provided this does not cost more than the repairs covered in the insurance contract. Further advising can be provided, while measures in the outdoor surroundings are in general the responsibility of municipal authorities, NVE, The Norwegian National Fund for Natural Damage Assistance, and to some extent the owner of the property. standards of repairs. 9.3 Event preparedness Action UK France Germany Italy Norway Switzerland Government policy and action Detailed emergency planning and flood awareness campaigns through Environment Agency 20. Plan communal de sauvegarde 21 Vigilance messages and maps by Météo France Detailed emergency planning in co-ordination with the local authorities and intervention forces Improvement of communication between German Weather Service (DWD) and intervention forces among each other according to flood protection law. Federal building acts regulates construction in possible flood hazard zones, with some exception for special conditions. Act on natural damage regulates municipal responsibility for precautions against natural perils. Risk communication and practical guidance A number of insurance companies have produced guidance for customers on preparing for the has produced guidance for customers on preparing for the impacts of flooding (including produce guidance for individuals and commercial customers on preparing for the impacts 18 Flood Resilient Homes, Association of British Insurers, April 2004, 19 Publication DGUHC LIEN Article 13, loi N 811 du 13/08/04 de modernisation de la sécurité civile 11

12 impacts of flooding, making their property more resilient to floodwater, and protecting their belongings from flood damage. personal safety), making their property more resilient to floodwater, and protecting their belongings from flood damage. of flooding (excluding personal safety) and protecting their belongings from flood damage. takes part in creation of a guideline about reaction to extreme weather by German Fire Protection Association (vfdb) The insurance companies support their costumers to plan and implement own effective claims management. 9.4 Lessons learned Action UK France Germany Italy Norway Switzerland Government Insurance industry Comprehensive lessons learned report produced after every major flood event by the Environment Agency 22 Report of the independent commission of the state government of Sachsen about the flood disaster 2002 Insurance industry will often compile information on costs of a flood after the event, e.g. data in recent ABI Flood Manifesto 25 Educational advertising of customers by clarification and publication of damage experiences and findings for effective loss prevention Yearly report issued 23 since 2002 Inspection reports for major events 24 Project of a database Specific enquiries for major events, as a contribution to public lessons learned reports (in French) 24 (in French) 25 Safe as houses?, Association of British Insurers, April 2005, 12

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