Increasing flood exposure in the Netherlands: implications for risk financing
The effectiveness of disaster risk management and financing mechanisms depends on an accurate assessment of current and future hazard exposure. The increasing availability of detailed data offers policy makers and the insurance sector new opportunities to understand trends in risk, and to make informed decisions on ways to deal with these trends. In this paper we show how comprehensive property level information can be used for the assessment of exposure to flooding on a national scale, and how this information provides valuable input to discussions on possible risk financing practices. The case study used is the Netherlands, which is one of the countries most exposed to flooding globally, and which is currently undergoing a debate on strategies for the compensation of potential losses. Our results show that flood exposure has increased rapidly between 1960 and 2012, and that the growth of the building stock and its economic value in flood-prone areas has been higher than in non-flood-prone areas. We also find that property values in flood-prone areas are lower than those in non-flood-prone areas. We argue that the increase in the share of economic value located in potential flood-prone areas can have a negative effect on the feasibility of private insurance schemes in the Netherlands. The methodologies and results presented in this study are relevant for many regions around the world where the effects of rising flood exposure create a challenge for risk financing.