RMS, the Newark, Calif.-based catastrophe modeling company, estimates that insured losses from the Western and Central Europe flooding, which occurred between July 12 and 18, 2021, will likely range between €5 billion and €6.5 billion (US$6 billion and US$7.7 billion).
RMS reconstructed a flood hazard footprint that covers the worst affected areas, including western and southern Germany, eastern Belgium, eastern France and Luxembourg. RMS said that Germany is the dominant contributor of loss to the event with about 70% of the total loss, followed by Belgium with about 25% of the loss.
The loss estimate includes insured property and business interruption loss to residential, commercial, industrial, automobile, and infrastructure lines and accounts for the potential of post-event loss amplification and extended business interruption. It excludes losses observed in the Netherlands, which sits outside of the model domain, and losses in Switzerland, Bavaria and Saxony in Germany, and Austria, which were caused outside the time window of the heaviest rainfall.
“In terms of loss, this event is expected to be comparable to the costliest European flood events in recent history, the Central and Eastern Europe floods of 2002 and 2013,” commented Daniel Bernet, product manager, Europe Flood Models, RMS.
“However, unlike the 2002 and 2013 events during which overtopping and breaching of major rivers contributed substantially to overall damages, the 2021 event occurred in a different region and was characterized with much steeper and faster flood waves with higher flow velocities in smaller rivers and tributaries that caused substantial structural damage, and regretfully, an unusually high number of fatalities,” he added.
A stationary low-pressure system, named Bernd by the Berlin Institute of Meteorology, triggered intense rainfalls over Western and Central Europe, as well as swaths of severe convective storms leading to widespread and record-breaking flooding. Affected countries include Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria.
The loss estimate was calculated through an analysis of the new flood footprint functionality in the RMS Europe Inland Flood HD Models running on Risk Modeler. The new flood footprint functionality allows users to run the footprint on their own exposure to obtain a granular bespoke loss estimate.
Photograph: Debris in a street after flooding in Schuld near Bad Neuenahr, western Germany, on July 15. Photographer: Bernd Lauter/AFP/Getty Images
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