Assessing trends in insured losses from floods in Spain 1971–2008
Abstract. Economic impacts from floods have been increasing over recent decades, a fact often attributed to a changing climate. On the other hand, there is now a significant body of scientific scholarship all pointing towards increasing concentrations and values of assets as the principle cause of the increasing cost of natural disasters. This holds true for a variety of perils and across different jurisdictions. With this in mind, this paper examines the time history of insured losses from floods in Spain between 1971 and 2008. It assesses whether any discernible residual signal remains after adjusting the data for the increase in the number and value of insured assets over this period of time. Data on insured losses from floods were sourced from Consorcio de Compensación de Seguros (CCS). Although a public institution, CCS compensates homeowners for the damage produced by floods, and thus plays a role similar to that of a private insurance company. Insured losses were adjusted using two proxy measures: first, changes in the total amount of annual surcharges (premiums) paid by customers to CCS, and secondly, changes in the total value of dwellings per year. The adjusted data reveals no significant trend over the period 1971–2008 and serves again to confirm that at this juncture, societal influences remain the prime factors driving insured and economic losses from natural disasters.