Every second homeowner and many tenants lack insurance against heavy rain and flooding. Most people have no idea about this because they have home and contents insurance. But they only help under certain conditions. Experts warn.

Heavy rain, like the one that threatens to flood German cities and towns again next weekend, will fall more frequently over the Federal Republic in the future, according to climate experts. Financially, it is particularly damaging to around 50 percent of all homeowners who, according to the German Insurance Association (GDV), lack insurance against heavy rain and flooding. Many tenants are also uninsured. Experts warn that many of them have no idea of ​​their risk.

Four points explain what you need to know:

“Residential building and household contents insurance only pay for pipe water damage,” says Sandra Klug from the Hamburg Consumer Center. They only insure damage caused by heavy rain if customers take out natural hazard insurance as an add-on. These are available for both types of insurance, i.e. for residential building and household contents insurance.

As the GDV data shows, millions of German homeowners lack this protection. In an emergency you will not receive any money. If you are unsure whether you have insurance, you can check your contract documents or ask your insurance company.

According to Anja Käfer-Rohrbach, deputy general manager of GDV, tenants must also expect that “extreme weather conditions and associated damage will occur more frequently in the future.” Existing insurance policies can be expanded to include the elementary supplement.

From the consumer advocate’s point of view, this is worthwhile for tenants who keep valuable items in the basement or ground floor. “But be careful: the items in the basement area must be stored at least twelve centimeters above the ground,” says Klug. The landlord is responsible for any damage to the residential building.

Homeowners and tenants can independently and from home use the GDV natural hazard check to check how much flooding and heavy rain threaten their home. There you can also find out what damage storms have caused in the past where you live.

Until now, an exclusion criterion from the insurers prevented many tenants and owners from taking out additional insurance: If a house was in hazard class 4, the highest risk level for natural damage, this increased the insurance premium to almost unaffordable levels.

More precise maps now limit risk areas more precisely and free many addresses from the almost uninsurable fate.

According to Käfer-Rohrbach, around ten percent of the areas were considered high-risk zone 4 areas in 2002. This year, zone 4 has shrunk to around 0.4 percent. Anyone who previously shied away from the high costs of natural hazard insurance should check whether the price has also fallen in their area.

Whether the insurance remains affordable depends on political decisions and their support among the population. Climate change could make building insurance so expensive in some areas of Germany that some owners will no longer be able to pay it, warns GDV managing director Jörg Asmussen.

Insurers are calling for greater attention to be paid to climate adaptation when planning and building and for a construction freeze to be imposed in flood areas. In the event of events with extremely high amounts of damage, which even exceed the Ahrtal flood disaster, the state should also step in.

Without prevention and adaptation to climate impacts, “premiums for residential building insurance could double in Germany within the next ten years simply as a result of climate damage.” On average, mind you. Areas that are above average pay more.