Regional inequalities in flood insurance affordability and uptake under climate change

Max Tesselaar*, W. J. Wouter Botzen, Toon Haer, Paul Hudson, Timothy Tiggeloven, Jeroen C.J.H. Aerts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Flood insurance coverage can enhance financial resilience of households to changing flood risk caused by climate change. However, income inequalities imply that not all households can afford flood insurance. The uptake of flood insurance in voluntary markets may decline when flood risk increases as a result of climate change. This increase in flood risk may cause substantially higher risk-based insurance premiums, reduce the willingness to purchase flood insurance, and worsen problems with the unaffordability of coverage for low-income households. A socio-economic tipping-point can occur when the functioning of a formal flood insurance system is hampered by diminishing demand for coverage. In this study, we examine whether such a tipping-point can occur in Europe for current flood insurance systems under different trends in future flood risk caused by climate and socio-economic change. This analysis gives insights into regional inequalities concerning the ability to continue to use flood insurance as an instrument to adapt to changing flood risk. For this study, we adapt the “Dynamic Integrated Flood and Insurance” (DIFI) model by integrating new flood risk simulations in the model that enable examining impacts from various scenarios of climate and socio-economic change on flood insurance premiums and consumer demand. Our results show rising unaffordability and declining demand for flood insurance across scenarios towards 2080. Under a high climate change scenario, simulations show the occurrence of a socio-economic tipping-point in several regions, where insurance uptake almost disappears. A tipping-point and related inequalities in the ability to use flood insurance as an adaptation instrument can be mitigated by introducing reforms of flood insurance arrangements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8734
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2020


  • Adaptation
  • Climate change
  • Flood risk management
  • Insurance
  • Partial equilibrium modeling
  • Socio-economic tipping-point


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