“In Limburg, we really got through the eye of the needle last year, because Maas was about to explode,” Bos recalls. According to her, it went well due to government programs that resulted in stronger dikes and provided space for water storage at. high rivers. “Those investments have really paid off. Otherwise, the consequences would have been incalculable.”
‘Flood worse than fire damage’
Bos: “Floods are actually worse than fire damage.” As Head of Injury & Income at Achmea, she hears from experts about the damage caused by floods. From sloping parquet floors to toilets, from which the wastewater comes up. “The stench of it is unthinkable.” But the real problems often come up later. This is how water damage differs from fire damage. “You can clean up soot, but water damage is more or less invisible.” If soaked walls do not dry properly, they will become moldy. Wet beams rot. And in the worst case, the house sinks.
Incidentally, it is not only houses near rivers that are at risk. “Recently I heard something that was eye-opening for me. It was about Veluwe. I thought you’re relatively safe there, because it’s high up. But the ground is petrified by drought. If you get a heavy rainstorm, the water sinks. not away, but huge water currents are created in the hilly area. Almost as big as rivers. These rivers then threaten certain neighborhoods. All models say that kind of risks are increasing. “
More frequent floods
“I’ve been working in the damage industry for about ten years now, and I can see that we’re experiencing more and more floods.” Bos is concerned about this increase and thinks it’s time for solutions. On the one hand by raising awareness of risks, on the other hand by preventing injuries. “Ultimately, you also want to keep it insured.” By that she means that the insurance premiums will be too high if the insurance companies have to pay out a lot of money.
Bos stresses that repairing damage is the last step in a chain of water solutions. Therefore, limiting the temperature rise is the first and most important step. In addition, we must ensure that our homes and environments are protected from floods. “We need to learn to deal with the consequences of this new climate together.”
Building in the polder
In the meantime, we are continuing to build in places where there is a high risk of water damage. Such as in the river plains or one of the deepest polders in Holland: Zuidplaspolder. The polder is located 6 meters below the NAP. Bos is keeping a close eye on such developments. She is not yet particularly concerned about Zuidplaspolder because she believes people there are aware of the risks. “They are now looking very closely at how to build and manage the water.” Although she does not add much later: “But in the long run, there is a risk that construction in polders is no longer subject to insurance. Can you still pay for the damage if you know it will be repaired every year? ”
Bos is loudly wondering who will be the first to attribute consequences to annually flooded homes: the banks, the insurance companies or future residents. “I think it starts with finances. Which bank would still like to pledge in it? Although the first question really should be whether you want to live there if you suffer from floods every year. ”
Also read: Achmea warns against insurance of houses in floodplains
For Bos, it’s all about consciousness. As an insurance company, Achmea wants to make people aware of water risks and give them tips on how to prevent injuries. This can be done, for example, by raising thresholds, installing non-return valves in the toilet, installing green roofs, removing tiles from the garden and connecting the downpipe to a rain barrel instead of the sewer. She also hopes that the citizens will enter into dialogue with the municipalities if the drainage is not good and the sewer system is bad. Since 1 January, the municipalities have been obliged to carry out stress tests. They show where the water collects. The municipalities must then address this.
Bos does not expect Achmea to reimburse minor damages if people get water damage that they could have prevented with an elevated threshold or green garden. “But I can imagine we would then talk to a customer to see how we can prevent that from happening again.”
After fire damage, Achmea already installed smoke detectors, even before this became mandatory. Bos expects that houses affected by water damage will in the long run be repaired with preventive tools such as high thresholds and non-return valves. “And like I said, water is so much worse than fire. So I think consumers also really like to avoid being bothered by it again.”