Spread the financial risk of storm damage

Christian Kuhlicke in conversation with Liane von Billerbeck

The water destroyed houses and infrastructure, like here in Sinzig, in the district of Ahrweiler. (picture alliance / dpa / Thomas Frey)

The floods have caused billions of damage in Germany – and not for the first time. Risk researcher Christian Kuhlicke has long called for compulsory insurance for all.

A century-long flood hit western and southern Germany, and it is not the first of this century: in 2002 and also in 2013 – at that time along the Danube, the Saale and the the Elbe – there were catastrophic floods in Germany. Storms like this leave billions of damage.

Now the bridges, houses and roads must be rebuilt. And as with previous floods, there are discussions about how this should be funded.

One idea is compulsory insurance for everyone. Christian Kuhlicke, professor of environmental risks and sustainability at the University of Potsdam and head of the working group on environmental risks and extreme events at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig, is one of those who see this as essential for disaster risk reduction.

The requirement for mandatory insurance is in the piece, but little has been done in this regard in recent years, admits Kuhlicke: “We’re actually as far back as years or decades ago.”

The more provision there is, the lower the premium

The argument against such an obligation is that the citizen then mentally lies down in the hammock and no longer uses the flood protection, says Kuhlicke. “But we know from other countries that compulsory insurance can control the provisioning of buildings by ranking risks and premiums.”

In this regard, mandatory risk-based insurance should be introduced: the more an owner reserves, the lower the insurance premiums should be.

When rebuilding destroyed areas, creativity is key, says Kuhlicke, houses on stilts are also possible. There will be fundamental changes in weather in the future. It is a great task for the future.

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