The twenty-first century in Europe has been marked by devastating inland flooding. In August of 2002, an epic flood on Germany’s Elbe River caused insured losses of more than EUR 1.80bn (USD 1.70bn). In 2005 and 2006, a wave of floods devastated large sections of Bavaria. The summer of 2007 was the wettest in the United Kingdom since record-keeping began; the insurance industry paid out approximately £3 billion on more than 165,000 flood insurance claims by the time it was over.
Innovative Rainfall Generation Model
AIR’s inland flood models represent revolutionary tools for determining the likelihood of losses from all manifestations of flood events, including those that exceed the scope of historical experience. AIR’s Inland Flood Model for Great Britain incorporates an innovative rainfall generation module that leverages AIR’s expertise in numerical weather prediction (NWP) to produce realistic rainfall patterns in space and time. AIR’s Inland Flood Model for Germany couples state-of-the-art global climate models and mesoscale NWP models to accurately capture both large-scale and small-scale precipitation patterns over Europe.
On- and Off-Floodplain Risk
The AIR inland flood models leverage high-resolution soil, land use/land cover and topographic databases, coupling hydrology with hydraulics for a realistic representation of on-floodplain risk. But flooding is not confined to floodplains. In fact, nearly 50% of the losses from the 2002 Germany floods and the 2007 UK floods occurred off the floodplain. Much of that loss occurred in highly exposed urban areas.
In the AIR models, off-floodplain risk is modeled according to the physical characteristics of tens of thousands of small catchments. Urban drainage back-ups and the aging of facilities are modeled probabilistically—as is the failure of flood defenses, such as dams, levees and gates.
A Comprehensive Solution for a Complex Peril
Inland flood is a highly complex peril—one that will only grow in importance as more homes and businesses are built in flood-prone locations. The AIR inland flood models capture the many complexities inherent in the peril, the property damage that can result, and the ultimate insured losses. By modeling rainfall events in space and time, the models explicitly quantify event duration—and thereby support the evaluation of insurance contracts that incorporate hours clauses. The AIR inland flood models provide a comprehensive solution for meeting the risk management needs of companies pricing and underwriting flood risk today.
AIR currently offers an inland flood model for: