Thursday, August 11, 2011

Climate change leads to rising subsidence risks in Europe

Subsidence caused by drought now costliest natural hazard in some parts of Europe

News reports on climate change have focused on dire predictions of more hurricanes and increasing flooding due to rising sea levels.

But subsidence caused by drought, which has already become a major problem across Europe, will also become much worse due to global warming.

Subsidence is one of the costliest but least known property risks. Unlike a roaring storm, the damage wreaked by subsidence takes years rather than hours, but it can be serious.

In some parts of Europe, subsidence claims are now the costliest natural hazard, comparable to serious flooding, says Swiss Re in its report "The hidden risks of climate change: An increase in property damage from drought and soil subsidence in Europe". In France, subsidence-related claims have risen by more than 50% in the past 20 years, costing the affected regions €340 million every year on average.

"As our climate continues to change, the risk of property damage from soil subsidence is not only increasing but also spreading to new regions in Europe," says Matt Weber, Head of Property & Specialty Underwriting at Swiss Re. (more)