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Why Disasters Need Insurance

Girl watching heavy rain

Right now in Kerala, India, there is a disaster progressing – floods. The monsoon flooding has severely hit 12 of Kerala’s 14 districts, with thousands of homes damaged since June 2018 and 1,000’s of peoples lives turned upside down.

Crops on 32,500 hectares of land have also been damaged, the Home Ministry has said. The international airport at Kochi, a major port city, suspended flight operations after the runway was flooded. Authorities also asked tourists to stay away from the popular hill station of Munnar in Idukki district because of flooding.

As of now, a total of 407 people have died in Kerala, 190 in Uttar Pradesh, 183 people in West Bengal, 139 in Maharashtra, 52 in Gujarat, 45 in Assam and 11 in Nagaland state, officials and the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

This is worse than normal. The goverment is fighting on all levels and is also even having to rebut rumours, according to News18, water resources secretary, Tinku Biswal, said in a statement: “Rumours are being spread in social media sites like WhatsApp, Facebook, etc that the Mullaperiyar Dam has developed some cracks. This rumour is completely baseless and the Dam has not developed any cracks as alleged.”

This is a true fight that the people of Kerala are fighting.

MIC‘s tech office is based in Trevandium, Kerala and this is why the plight of the people and animals of Kerela is dear to my heart. Yet it also highlights as real issue professionally to me.

At least 85% of homeowners in the U.S. have homeowners insurance. While it’s not a required form of coverage by the US government, home insurance is typically required as a condition of having a mortgage loan and is very valuable in the protection it offers homeowners. If there are problems then generally people are covered. This is in sharp contrast to homeowners in India.

In India, the penetration of insurance is much much lower and the knowledge of what insurance can offer is not widely understood. Insurance is there to underpin a community at a time of need, especially during disasters.

Lloyd’s Global Underinsurance Report of 2012 had said that a one percentage point increase in insurance penetration is associated with a reduced burden on the taxpayer of one fifth of estimated total damage in case of a loss. This is a very cool way of saying that insurance really helps.

Putting it another way, as stated in the report ‘Transformative Agenda for The Indian Insurance Industry and its Policy Framework’;

“A 1% rise in insurance penetration translates into 13% reduction in uninsured losses-an increased investment equivalent of 2% of national GDP and a 22% reduction in taxpayers contribution.”.

Ms Beale, then (2012) CEO of Lloyd’s of London, said:

“The insurance industry can contribute a lot towards making the Indian economy more resilient. Lloyd’s can help support the expansion of insurance penetration in India and limit the economic impact of catastrophes.”

India’s current, 2017, insurance penetration rate stands at 3.42%, far below the global average of 6.2%, says an industry report.

With 17% of the worlds population, the Indian insurance market accounts for less than 1.5% of the worlds total insurance premium.

Home insurance policies generally provide coverage for disasters, damage to a home’s structure and damage to owners personal property. Today it is very possible that many people in Kerala are not only facing the loss of their property and home but also facing the fact they will still have to fund their mortgage, despite their home being in ruins, and or to find funds to rebuild their lives.