According to data from ICEYE, it is estimated that more than 43,400 buildings have been affected by the recent severe flooding in Europe.
ICEYE has a constellation of synthetic aperture radar satellites and its Flood Monitoring Solution provides the insurance and reinsurance industry with a near real-time product of flood magnitude and depth data, with building-level resolution, all available within 24 hours of a flood.
The company has shared some insights on what its flood monitoring product is showing for the recent floods that hit Central and Western Europe.
First, the data, as ICEYE’s flood mapping indicates that a total of at least 43,400 buildings across Europe will be affected by the floods.
Of these, 27,400 are in Belgium, 9,300 in Germany, 3,100 in Luxembourg, 1,750 in the Netherlands and 850 in France. The data is from the first flood wave, so does not include Austria, which was also affected by a second flood event.
The numbers in Germany are expected to rise, while others may change as ICEYE updates its insights.
19,900 of the least affected buildings across Europe by ICEYE data have experienced low water levels, 16,000 medium and 7,500 high water levels.
The higher the high tide, the larger the average claim is likely to be, seems like a sensible way to look at this. While this probably isn’t always the case, some outliers, such as industrial buildings, can be closed for weeks after only a low flood depth, triggering business interruption claims.
ICEYE’s flood monitoring team tracked the weather systems that caused the flooding as they developed, and the satellite constellation captured synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images in the affected regions ahead of flood peaks across Europe.
ICEYE tracked the evolving floods in the six individual countries and combined the SAR images with other datasets, including aerial images, open source images, river/tidal gauge data, watersheds and digital elevation models, to perform rapid flood analysis size and depth for the most affected regions, including the depth level for individual buildings.
An example of an ICEYE visualization of these floods for Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany, is shown below, showing a total of 2,907 buildings within the flood zone.
Nathan Uhlenbrock, Solutions Architect, ICEYE, explains: “Extreme rainfall across much of Europe has led to major flooding in several countries, resulting in numerous fatalities and major material damage.
“ICEYE’s flood monitoring team identified the potential for significant flooding in the region five days before the flood started, as the weather models and our flood forecast data indicated heavy rain, over a relatively short period of time, and on top of the already-saturated ground.
“Once the potential flooding was identified, we made plans to capture comprehensive synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images of the areas most likely to be affected: Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland. To date, we have mapped and analyzed an area of more than 90,000 km² about this flood.”
Charles Blanchet, VP Solutions, ICEYE, added: “By providing accurate and consistent data on the magnitude and depth of flooding, ICEYE enables insurers, reinsurers and brokers to quickly generate accurate loss estimates for the flood-affected regions and allocate capital in response.
“By providing this data within 24 hours of the high water point, we enable insurers to reach affected customers, deploy field resources effectively, and process claims faster and more efficiently right after the event.”
This kind of data is extremely useful to help operators in the insurance and reinsurance market understand the consequences of a flood more quickly and as ICEYE owns its own satellite constellation, its approach is wholly owned by the company and results can be delivered to customers very quickly .
Flood insurance claims for residential properties appear to average between US$40,000 and US$70,000, based on data from the US, UK and Germany.
But commercial property flood insurance claims can be significantly higher in some cases, especially when business interruptions are added to pure property damage claims.
Even for the average housing claim it is very easy to reach the total claim threshold of EUR 2 billion, but with commercial and industrial property claims added, plus business interruption, it is very easy to foresee that the total amount of the sector will increase to the region worth more than 4 billion euros, based on the minimum number of properties believed to have been affected by the floods, according to ICEYE data.
This is in line with current estimates of losses in the insurance and reinsurance market, which currently appear to range from EUR 2.5 billion to EUR 5 billion, perhaps slightly higher.