Total insured losses could reach €5 billion as Airmic CEO Graham says even climate scientists “were shocked”

The minimum number for buildings impacted in the areas most severely affected by floods in Europe is 71,859. This is according to satellite flood monitoring company ICEYE.

At least 190 people have been killed and hundreds more are missing, with parts of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia among the areas worst hit.

According to Nathan Uhlenbrock, solutions architect, ICEYE: “The extreme rainfall over large parts of Europe has resulted in extensive flooding in several countries, causing numerous fatalities and extensive property damage.

”The ICEYE flood monitoring team identified the potential for a significant flooding event in the region five days before the flooding commenced, as the weather models and our flood forecast data indicated heavy rain, over a relatively short period of time, and on top of already-saturated ground.

”Once the potential flooding event was identified, we created plans to capture extensive synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery of the areas most likely to be impacted: Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Switzerland. To date on this flood event, we have imaged and analysed an area of more than 90,000 square km.”

ICEYE offers the insurance industry real-time data on floods via its constellation of synthetic aperture radar satellites.

”By providing this data within 24 hours from the high water mark, we enable insurers to reach out to impacted customers, deploy field resources effectively, and process claims faster and more efficiently immediately after the event,” said Charles Blanchet, VP Solutions, ICEYE.

Early estimates predict total insured losses could reach as high as €5 billion ($5.9 billion). Reinsurance losses from the floods are likely to total $2-3 billion, according to Berenberg analysts.

Airmic CEO Julia Graham said the magnitude and speed at which the floods had emerged were hard for even the most seasoned of professionals to imagine, “including climate scientists, who were shocked”. She said there was a need for more investment to improve predictive climate analytics to better prepare for future events.

Global flood losses are predicted to reach $1.7 trillion per annum by 2050, according to the World Resources Institute.