Stormy year lands insurers €7-billion bill
German insurers had an expensive 2013, paying out an estimated €7 billion to cover the damage caused by freak weather including the summer floods, heavy hail, and winter storms.
President of the German Insurers Association (GDV) Alexander Erdland said: “The accumulation of various weather extremes within just a few months made 2013 an exceptional year.”
GDV estimated that almost €7 billion would be paid out by insurers - one of the most expensive years on record.
In June the Danube and Elbe rivers broke their banks flooding large areas of eastern Germany while a freak hailstorm hit the south of the country in July.
There was further bad news for insurers in October and December when storms St Jude and Xaver ripped into coastal areas.
The bad weather meant insurers had their worse year since 2002 when Germany was also hit by large floods.
And Erdland warned that it could get worse in the future. A study by insurers and climate researchers suggested climate change will bring more unpredictable weather and storms to Germany.
He called for flood defences to be strengthened and for building on land susceptible to flooding to stop.
The hailstorms which struck southern Germany in July were particularly expensive for insurers forcing them to pay out €3.1 billion. Windows, roofs and vehicles were all damaged.
Summer floods added a further €1.8 billion to insurers' costs while the St Jude storm in October caused €400 million worth of damage and storm Xaver at the start of December almost €200 million for insurers.
According to the GDV, homeowners underestimate the risk of damage to their property from bad weather. The organization said only a third of German homeowners had basic damage cover.