One year after the Ahr Valley disaster: insurers pay billions to flood victims

In July 2021, a flood catastrophe devastates entire areas in the Ahr Valley.

One year after the Ahr Valley disaster: insurers pay billions to flood victims

In July 2021, a flood catastrophe devastates entire areas in the Ahr Valley. Since then, insurers have paid out 5 billion of the 8.5 billion euros in total damage to private individuals and companies. In one in four cases, however, reconstruction and repairs are not yet complete.

According to their association, one year after the flood disaster in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, insurers paid out 5 billion of the 8.5 billion euros in total damage. Even in cases that are still open, insured persons have often already received large parts of the damage, according to the General Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV). Almost three quarters of all insurance claims have been completed.

In the district of Ahrweiler, which was hardest hit by the flood, the average damage per residential building was 210,000 euros. This is the highest average damage ever measured in residential buildings, explained the GDV. Every fourth house in the Euskirchen district was damaged.

Insurers recorded a total of 213,000 claims - including 40,000 damaged cars, 54,000 insurance claims in household insurance, 91,000 damaged residential buildings and 28,000 companies that reported property damage and business interruptions due to the heavy rains. In the disaster areas, over 2,000 single-family homes with insured damage in excess of 100,000 euros had to be repaired.

In every fourth insured event, however, reconstruction and repairs are still ongoing, as Sabine Krummenerl from GDV said. In the cases that are still open, repairs and thus payments of 3.5 billion euros are pending. "There is often a lack of material, there is still a lack of craftsmen."

The insurers called for "greater efforts to avoid damage," as GDV CEO Jörg Asmussen said. Compulsory insurance alone does not prevent damage. "If we neglect prevention and climate change adaptation, climate change will set in motion a spiral of increasing claims and increasing premiums," he warned.

The insurers presented a concept in October 2021. In addition to supplementing all building insurance contracts with so-called elementary damage insurance, they propose bans on new construction in locations at risk of flooding, better structural adjustments and less sealing.

On July 14, 2021, a devastating flood caused by torrential rains devastated large areas in the west of the country, destroying many communities. 135 people died in Rhineland-Palatinate and 48 in North Rhine-Westphalia.

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