Human and economic cost mounts of ‘catastrophic’ floods

Severe flooding across Germany and other parts of Western Europe look set to be one of the costliest flood events on record, with insurers and reinsurers bracing themselves for losses running into billions of euros.

At the time of writing, 120 people are known to have died in this week’s flooding, with hundreds more still missing across a wide area affected by extreme rainfall, including western parts of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, while Switzerland and Luxembourg have also been hit.

According to a report by Aon’s Impact Forecasting, thousands of homes across the region were inundated by record levels of rainfall. Parts of the German districts of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia experienced 148 litres of rain per sq m within 48 hours, in an area that would more typically receive around 80 litres in all of July

The report said that with storm and flood damage occurring across Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the combined cost of the floods and storms across Eastern and Central Europe was anticipated to run well into the billions.

It added: “With the event still ongoing across the hardest-hit areas of eastern and central Europe as water levels have yet to fully recede, it remains too early to provide an exact economic loss estimate at this time. However, considering the expansive and extensive level of damage in many locales, the July 12-15 flood event alone is anticipated to result in an economic cost exceeding €1bn (US$1.2bn).”

Earlier this week, we reported that Aon’s latest catastrophe report revealed that the cost of major storms last month across large parts of Europe, including Germany and the Czech Republic, is set to land insurers with an estimated US$4.5bn bill.

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