OSNABRÜCK (dpa-AFX) - In view of the recent floods, the Expert Council for Consumer Affairs (SVRV) at the Federal Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection is once again calling for compulsory insurance against damage caused by natural forces. A legal opinion by the council has shown that such a requirement is permissible if it allows a free choice of insurers. "The prerequisite is that the premiums are always based on the insured risk," said Chairman Christoph Busch to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (NOZ).

Policyholders should have the choice between different deductibles. A model is also conceivable in which additional flood protection measures on the part of policyholders would lead to a premium discount.

In the insurance industry, natural hazards are defined as damage caused by nature - i.e. storm, hail, flooding, earthquakes, avalanches, snow pressure or volcanic eruptions

The status quo is that property owners rely on the state to step in when natural hazards occur, said Busch. "Economists call this a charity hazard. If I know that the state will help, there is no sufficient incentive for me to take out insurance myself." In addition, the risk of natural hazards is often underestimated or suppressed, according to the expert.

More than a year ago, the federal states called on the federal government to submit a proposal for a federal regulation to introduce compulsory insurance. A federal-state working group set up later for this purpose is to present a result by the next meeting of the state premiers with Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on June 20.

According to the German Insurance Association (GDV), an average of 54% of all residential buildings in Germany are insured against all natural hazards - and not just against individual weather phenomena such as storms and hail. "In Lower Saxony, the figure is only 32 percent. This means that in the event of a major loss event, the general public has to pay for a large proportion of the damage to buildings. This is not sustainable for public budgets in the long term," said Busch.

According to Busch, voluntary insurance cover, which consumers would have to actively reject, is "at best a compromise". "It can be assumed that only a maximum of 80 percent would then insure themselves." /kat/DP/zb