‘Flood damage compensation is a job for insurers, not the government’

Flood water in Maastrict. Photo: Dana Bos
The river Maas in Maastricht during the flooding. Photo: Dana Bos

Insurance companies want the government to change the rules so that everyone can insure themselves against the risk of flooding, the AD reported on Tuesday.

Currently, households whose property is damaged in a major flood have to appeal to the government for compensation, but insurers want to change this, saying they should be able to provide insurance instead.

They say that the Limburg floods of 2021 have created ‘political momentum’ for change and that politicians too now realise it can be better organised, the AD said.

The Limburg floods caused major damage for thousands of households, many of whom had no idea how or if they were covered. The average compensation needed per household was around €50,000.

But many people are still waiting for financial help, or have only been given partial compensation, the paper said.

Water damage insurance depends on the source of the flooding. You can get insurance for damage caused by rain or a small canal or ditch. But if the damage is caused by sea water, a river or a large lake, then insurance is not valid.

Great flood

The issue stems from the great flood of 1953 in Zeeland and Zuid-Holland which caused so much damage insurers would have been unable pay. So, the government became responsible for major disasters caused by a primary flood defence failure.

That was not the case in Limburg, where the river burst its banks, leaving many people unsure of how and what they can claim.

‘Rather than compensate for the damage, people were having to prove that each item had been damaged by the flood,’ Daan Prevoo, mayor of Valkenburg aan de Geul, told the paper. ‘No-one asked for such a natural disaster so why should they be left with the problems?’

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