Flooded basements and damaged cars after a hailstorm: storms caused a lot of damage last year. According to official information, insurers had to accept losses amounting to almost six billion euros. This also has consequences for those affected.

Storms, hail and heavy rain caused insured losses of 5.7 billion euros last year. “That is 1.7 billion euros more than in 2022,” said the general manager of the German Insurance Association (GDV), Jörg Asmussen. “The main reason for this is severe and expensive hail damage to motor vehicles.” According to the association, the previous recorded record was 13.9 billion in 2021.

Katharina G. from Heidenheim was also affected by hail damage in June 2023. The winter garden could not withstand the ice grains, the glass roof gave way and collapsed completely. “We were lucky that we weren’t there at the moment,” said the affected person in an interview with FOCUS online.

The homeowners insurance stepped in and covered a large part of the damage of almost 20,000 euros. But as soon as the new winter garden was in place, the insurer promptly canceled the contract. The family had already had to report major damage a year earlier. At that time the basement rooms were under water. Heating, electrical wiring and even walls had to be replaced. The total damage was estimated at 60,000 euros.

Not an isolated case. A high level of damage actually has consequences for policyholders. Either they have to pay more for the policy or they are thrown out of the contract completely. This is often due to a kind of “black list”, also known in the industry as a black box.

It is a database, the central reference and information system of the insurance industry (HIS). Anyone who is on the list has a harder time getting cheap insurance. In principle, however, a simple mention does not automatically lead to exclusion. As a rule, insurance providers could then examine individual inquiries more closely. If the customer’s risk situation is also assessed negatively, this has an impact.

In the HIS, the industry association GDV bundles all information about suspicious processes and makes the stored data available to its member companies. Even a particularly high insurance sum, multiple claims or a mysterious car accident can lead to a report – without the person concerned knowing about it. As a rule, the relevant clerk forwards the report. “Many insurance customers probably did not even suspect that they were secretly stigmatized by the industry as an unsafe cantonist,” emphasizes the Association of Insured Persons (BdV).

If you want to find out whether you are listed on the HIS, you can find out free of charge by applying. Those affected submit a written application to the GDV. You must also disclose your first name, last name, date of birth, current address and previous addresses for the last 5 years. In the case of car insurance, the vehicle identification number (VIN), the vehicle registration number, the first registration date, the manufacturer and type as well as proof that the person making the inquiry is the owner, the owner or the policyholder of the vehicle must also be stated . However, the GDV only provides information about whether there is an entry and who reported it. In order to obtain the reasons for the entry, the customer must then contact the reporting insurance company. According to the Federal Data Protection Act, this person is obliged to provide more detailed information about the personal data stored about him.

If a report to HIS turns out to be incorrect, the person concerned has the right to have it corrected or deleted. But: If the requirements for a report are met, there is generally no right to deletion!

The standard period for deleting data in the HIS is generally four calendar years. It begins with the calendar year following the initial storage.

FOCUS online advises: Twice is better. Not only write to the GDV and ask for deletion, but also point out the error to the reporting insurer and ask them to correct or delete the data. Only the insurance company that initiated the entry can change or delete the data via a correction report.

Most of the insured damage occurred in Bavaria – more than two billion euros were registered. Hesse came second in the statistics with 890 million euros. “The Alpine region and the Hessian low mountain ranges Taunus and Odenwald were particularly frequently affected by hail,” said Asmussen.

The overall association also recorded an increase in motor vehicle insurance: the average of insured losses due to damage caused by storms and hail was 4,100 euros. This is the third highest value after 1984 (4,700 euros) and 2021 (4,300 euros). “The reason for the high costs is the increased spare parts prices and the high workshop wages,” the general association said.

In recent months, storms have repeatedly caused significant damage in Germany. However, this sum was not included in the balance sheet now presented. According to meteorologists, extreme weather events are becoming more common due to the climate crisis.