According to a new analysis from the Swiss Re Institute, insured losses from floods doubled to US$80 million during 2011-2020 as compared to the previous decade; and global flood losses surpassed US$20 billion (about CA$26.2 billion) in 2021 alone.
According to the Swiss Re Institute, the principal drivers of increased flood losses over the past many years have been economic growth, greater populations, and urbanization. Over the past ten years, however, rainfall and climate change have emerged as key factors.
According to the estimate, the total economic damage caused by floods between 2011 and 2021 was $99 billion USD. However, insurance covered only 18% of the global economic damages that were caused by floods during the period in question. Better overall data, more advanced and powerful risk mapping, and more highly developed modeling have permitted more affordable options for flood risk, which has, in turn, created opportunities for the private sector in flood insurance. Previously, floods were considered uninsurable; however, these advancements have enabled more accurate pricing for flood risk.
Keith Wolfe, head of US P&C at Swiss Re, stated that the recent events in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Texas are a sad reminder of how destructive floods can be to our lives. “The recent events in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Texas are a stark reminder of how disastrous floods can be to our lives,” “Despite the fact that the personal flood insurance industry has been gaining pace over the past few years, too many people are still not covered for floods. Furthermore, the bulk of those touched by these disasters remain uninsured, leaving them to pick up the pieces at their own expense.”
Additionally, the report discovered that climate change is leading to weather occurrences that are both more common and more severe. According to the Swiss Re Institute, about forty percent of the population of the United States lives in coastal counties, and ten percent lives in flood plains. The states of Arizona and North Dakota have the biggest people residing in the integrated flood plain. However, just 4% of households have flood insurance, despite the fact that flooding is more likely to occur in regions where soil sealing has occurred as a result of heavy urbanization and rising temperatures.
The National Flood Insurance Program provides the majority of home flood coverage in the United States. The requirement that flood insurance be purchased by families located in flood plains in order to obtain federally backed mortgages is a significant factor that drives up take-up rates.
According to the report, private insurers’ appetite for flood risk has increased as a result of advancements in modeling and flood-mitigation structures. As a result, direct flood premiums written by private insurers have increased at an annual rate of 20.5% since 2016, compared to a growth rate of 1.8% for federal flood premiums.
According to Wolfe, “the incentive for the insurance sector to safeguard more homes in the United States is a twofold,” which means that the company has two reasons to do so. “To begin, and most crucially, the insurance business has the potential to play a substantial part in assisting communities in regaining their footing in the aftermath of a catastrophe. In addition, because to the vast improvements in the modeling, it is now possible to underwrite this company with substantially higher levels of certainty than ever before.
According to the report, the premiums for the private market were approximately US$2 billion in comparison to US$4.7 billion for the federal program. The private market is still smaller than the NFIP and is more focused on business endeavors. The Swiss Re Institute, on the other hand, stated that there was “great potential” for the private sector, with an estimate ranging between US$37 billion and US$47 billion as the industry spends more in modeling and improves data quality.