Last year, natural disasters caused a loss of nearly €2.8 billion in Belgium, according to the annual report Assuralia, the Professional Association of Insurance Companies that represents almost all Belgian and foreign insurance companies operating on the Belgian market.
The figure represents a dramatic rise from €369 million in 2020 and €337 million in 2019, Belga News Agency reports.
Floods are largely to blame
The heavy floods of last summer are largely behind the steep rise, resulting in more than 74,000 insurance claims from victims throughout the country.
Insurers have already paid out more than €1 billion to victims of those disasters and more than 60% of the cases have been administratively closed. Assuralia also expects a high number of claims as a result of this year’s recent storms Eunice and Franklin.
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In 2021, there were a total of 85,888 flood-related claims and the average amounted to almost €30,000 euros. The total damage from flood-related claims amounted to over €2.57 billion.
Just a year earlier, there were 4,206 cases of flood damage for a total claim value of €16.2 million and an average claim value of €3,856. In 2019, there were even fewer: 3,038 cases of damage caused by flooding, for a total damage of €14.3 million.
Climate change means floods could become more common
Experts have warned that serious floods could become the “new normal” as a result of climate change.
“2021 is a wake-up call for fire insurance and natural disasters,” said Assuralia chief executive Hein Lannoy.
“The world has changed and we need to think together with the government about a sustainable solution to continue to cover these risks in the future at an acceptable premium for policyholders. In addition to cushioning the climate risk, there is also a need for a solid pension and strong healthcare. Here too, the insurance sector has an important role to play.”