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Where in Germany do homeowners face the greatest flood risk?

Paul Krantz
Paul Krantz - [email protected]
Where in Germany do homeowners face the greatest flood risk?
A car is floating in the street after heavy rain caused a river to overflow near a German village. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/vifogra | Haubner

As extreme weather events are becoming more common and more costly, homeowners are struggling to insure their homes in certain places. The Local takes a look at insurance options and flood risks in Germany.


Recent bouts of heavy rain caused flooding and landslides in Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate and parts of Bavaria. 

With more rain in the forecast for many parts of Germany in the coming days, these and other regions of the country may see further water and flood damages soon.

Extreme weather events are becoming both more common and more intense due to man-made climate change, and in some places this is creating havoc for homeowners. Recent reporting from the US, for example, shows that home insurance premiums have skyrocketed in some regions due to increased risks from extreme weather events.

Meanwhile, certain major insurance companies have stopped covering some regions entirely – causing some to prophesise the end of the insurance market as we know it.

While Germany doesn’t get the hurricanes or tornadoes that have made some regions in the US virtually uninsurable, it has suffered major flooding events in recent years and climate experts only expect these to get worse.

Which parts of Germany face the greatest flood risk?

A recent study by the German Insurance Association (GDV) found that 300,000 addresses in Germany are at risk of flooding.

According to the GDV study, which used public data to analyse the risk for 22.4 million addresses, the highest proportion of vulnerable properties was found in Saxony, where almost 3 percent were located in flood zones.

Thuringia and Rhineland-Palatinate had the next highest proportion of homes at risk, with 2.7 and 2 percent respectively.

But flood risk is better understood at the district level. The District of Cochem-Zell in Rhineland-Palatinate is the most affected with 10.5 percent of its addresses located in a flood zone. The nearby district of Koblenz is also a high-risk zone, as well as the district of Gera in Thuringia and Euskirchen in North-Rhine Westphalia.

Dresden is also a city of note for flood risk.


The state with the lowest proportion of homes in flood zones was Schleswig-Holstein. The city-states of Hamburg and Berlin were also among the least affected regions.

flood risk map

Title reads 'current flood situation'. The graphic depicts a flood-risk map during a heavy storm on May 1st. Image: picture alliance/dpa/dpa Grafik | dpa-infografik GmbH

Most homes in Germany are not in risk zones

Generally speaking, the vast majority of homes in Germany are not considered to be in high-risk flood zones.

A spokesperson for Allianz, a leading insurance company, explained that in Germany insurers assess risk with a zoning system for flooding, backwater and heavy rain called the ZÜRS system that was developed by the GDV. 

In the ZÜRS system, each address in Germany can be assigned a classification (1-4) where class 1 is the lowest risk and class 4 is the highest risk. Class 2 suggests that a severe flood can be expected once in 100 years, class 3 suggests that a severe flood could occur once every ten to 100 years, and class 4 signifies that a severe flood could be expected every ten years.

Of about 22 million addresses classified by ZÜRS, 99.6 percent are in hazard classes 1 to 3. Specifically, 92.4 percent belong to class 1 with the lowest risk. Class 2 has 6.1 percent, class 3 has just 1.1 percent.

This leaves just 0.4 percent of German households in the highest hazard class 4, where flooding can be expected every decade.

How are flooding risks affecting house insurance?

General homeowner’s insurance (Wohn­gebäude­versicherung) or household contents insurance (Hausrat­versicherung) typically covers damages related to fire, water damage from burst pipes, burglary, robbery, vandalism following a break-in and sometimes storm and hail.

Whereas natural disasters caused by heavy rain, like flooding, landslides and avalanches are not covered by basic insurance, they may be covered by supplementary “extreme weather protection” (Extrem­wetter­schutz).


Major insurers in Germany have adopted a procedural change following the major flooding events of 2021, which killed nearly 200 people in Germany and cost billions in insured losses.

“Until 2022, we offered [extreme weather protection] in the so-called opt-in procedure,” a spokesperson for Allianz told The Local – meaning that customers would need to additionally select the added protection themselves to be covered.

“Since February 2022, our insurance offers for household contents and homeowner’s insurance have been changed so that natural hazard protection is offered automatically and our customers must consciously deselect it if they do not want it,” they said.

Is anywhere in Germany uninsurable?

Insurance claims do seem to be getting more expensive for insurance providers. 

In 2023, Allianz spent a total of €987 million on losses caused by natural hazards in Germany, as opposed to €627 million in 2022.

The company attributes the cost increase partially to the devastating storms in August 2023, along with claims becoming comparatively expensive due to inflation.

However, Allianz suggests that for now homeowners in Germany shouldn’t have a hard time securing the insurance that they need. 

Even in class 4 flood zones, the company suggests that it examines the risk individually and works with higher deductibles where necessary.


However, there are some places where homeowners may have a hard time getting flood protection.

“There are still municipalities that allow building in a flood-prone area,” the Allianz representative said. “And there are houses in places such as Passau that are regularly flooded. These owners know this and take appropriate structural precautions.”



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