Germany – Insurers Demand a Stop to Building New Homes in Flood-Risk Areas

Insurers in Germany have warned that new homes continue to be built in flood-risk areas in the country. In the last 23 years, over 32,000 residential buildings have been constructed in high-risk areas.

Flooding in Bliesheim, Rhein-Erft-District in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, July 2021. Photo: Stadt Erftstadt

“Only climate-adapted construction can reduce the economic damage caused by climate change and extreme weather events in the future,” said Jörg Asmussen, head of the German Insurance Association (Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft – GDV), the federation of private insurers in Germany.

According to GDV, around 2.7 million new residential buildings have been built in Germany since 2000, with over 32,000 of them in flood areas. Around 1,000 to 2,400 new residential buildings were added to the risk areas every year. A total of around 270,000 residential buildings are now located in high-risk flood areas in Germany.

“We are of the opinion that new buildings should not be built in flood areas,” says Jörg Asmussen. “The percentage of new residential buildings in flood areas has increased over the past 23 years.”

Climate-adapted Construction

The GDV has called for reforms to construction and planning laws. From the insurers’ point of view, building regulations in Germany have not yet taken into account the effects of climate change and its consequences, GDV said. Therefore, the association demands that the protection goal “climate-adapted construction” be included in the building legislation.

“The economic damage of the future due to climate change and extreme weather events can only be reduced through climate-adapted construction,” says Asmussen.

Existing buildings should also be protected by preventive measures against flooding and heavy rain

“Prevention and adaptation to the consequences of climate change are the linchpins so that damage caused by natural disasters and thus insurance premiums do not get out of hand financially,” says Asmussen.