Many Czechs uninsured against floods

Village of Metly, Photo:CTK

Now that the floods are beginning to recede in at least some parts of the country, experts are beginning to tally up the cost of damages, already estimated at over 2 billion dollars. The big question on everyone's mind now is whether victims in the flooded regions were properly covered before the disaster. Although the country's insurance companies have been overwhelmed by a large number of claims, the answer is no. Many of those whose property has been damaged by the unexpected floods, viewed flood insurance as an unnecessary waste of money. The Czech Republic's biggest insurance company, Ceska Pojistovna, spent the last few days strengthening its claims service. Dita Asiedu spoke with Ceska Pojistovna's head of communications, Richard Kapsa:

Village of Metly, Photo:CTK
"First of all, we will concentrate on the destroyed houses and households just to help the most affected people with money and in the most difficult cases we will pay out deposits."

Would you say it is a matter of months or a matter of weeks?

"In the fastest cases it is a matter of days after the water disappears from the houses and our employees will be allowed to come into the house."

"So what sort of insurance do companies and citizens actually need in order to cover the flood damage? Generally said, the most important is property insurance covering natural catastrophe risks. I would like to stress that not all insurance policies in the Czech Republic respect this rule. Citizens need for this purpose a special insurance for household contents, insurance on buildings, and motor car insurance which is called Kasko."

Now does the insurance cover all the damage, or just the percentage of it?"

"It depends on the insurance policy conditions. Many houses are under insured which means that they signed insurance policies covering only part of the real value of property. Something about 60% of households are insured."

Against floods?

"Some of them don't have the risk of floods included in their policies but most of them do because Ceska Pojistovna in its policies always has the risk of floods included."

I believe you have a lot of emergency meetings right now. Have you been able to estimate how much your insurance company, Ceska Pojistovna, will actually have to pay out?

"Ceska Pojistovna expects claims overwhelming the amount of damages of the 1997 floods in Moravia. This means that Ceska Pojistovna will pay out an amount of several billion Czech crowns."