How Can We Protect Ourselves Against Flood Damage in the Future?


ZEW Economist Dr. Daniel Osberghaus in the #ZEWPodcast

20 per cent of German households wrongly assume that they are insured against flood damage.

The flood disaster in Germany last July claimed more than 180 lives. Since then, the question of how private households and policymakers can better prepare for extreme weather events has been raised again. In the 17th episode of the #ZEWPodcast ‘Wirtschaft · Forschung · Debatten’/‘Economy · Research · Debates’, ZEW economist Dr. Daniel Osberghaus talks about what technical precautionary measures private homeowners can take, the advantages and disadvantages of compulsory insurance in Germany and how other countries take flood precautions.

How Can We Protect Ourselves Against Flood Damage in the Future? (in German)


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“In less extreme flood events, simple technical measures can also be taken in existing buildings, which are often helpful,” says Osberghaus. For example, basement shafts can be sealed with a simple row of bricks, water-resistant floors can be laid and valuables should be stored on higher floors. The expert also recommends securing oil tanks and installing a backwater flap to prevent sewage from flowing back into the house via the sewer system when the water level rises.

Insurance coverage often overestimated

According to the economist, one problem is that about 20 per cent of households in Germany wrongly assume that flood damage is covered by their building insurance. However, protection against flood damage requires additional insurance against natural hazards, according to Osberghaus, who argues for a higher insurance density in Germany. “Insurance usually helps societies to recover faster and more efficiently from natural disasters.”

Compulsory insurance for all?

In the view of the environmental economist, more far-reaching measures are thinkable: “We think it is feasible to make insurance compulsory for every household.” However, a major challenge of such compulsory insurance is that people living in risk areas would face high insurance premiums. One feasible solution would be that premiums in these cases would be made affordable through state support.