ALBANIA looks to regional insurance

31 October 2013 —
As disasters continue to cost Albania dearly the country is cooperating on the launch of an innovative regional insurance scheme to complement a stronger domestic approach to disaster risk management.

The Albanian Government has joined with Europa Re, the World Bank and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in preparatory work to launch the South Eastern Europe and Caucasus Catastrophe Risk insurance Facility.

The mechanism should reduce the country's significant fiscal exposure to disasters as a result of various hazards and man-made risk drivers. The insurance facility aims to provide cover for earthquakes and floods. Further risk models are due to be developed for extreme weather insurance.

As part of an overall push to improve disaster risk management, Albania is also seeking to build its national capacity in terms of strengthening insurance regulators, creating partnerships with relevant private sector agents and promoting awareness of the benefits of disaster insurance among the general public.

"The level of disaster insurance is expected to rise significantly in the coming years," said Mr Ertust Brahja, of Albania's General Directorate of Civil Emergencies, situated in the country's Ministry of Interior.

"The approach seeks to offer high quality and affordable earthquake insurance to property owners that will guarantee the full payment of insured claims arising from highly devastating disasters such as earthquakes and floods.

"Government owned assets at central and local level, including schools and hospitals that are concentrated in risk prone areas, will be included in the National Earthquake Insurance Programme and as such should reduce government fiscal exposure to losses caused by natural disasters by inclusion.

"The scheme also seeks to develop proper weather insurance for the agriculture sector where recent developments have brought to the fore the importance of this for farmers."

The South Eastern Europe and Caucasus Catastrophe Risk insurance Facility initiative builds on a strong tradition of regional cooperation, including moves to monitor, forecast and warn of impending events, such as floods and forest fires, as well pooling efforts in training and response.

Albania's regional engagement accompanies a new draft National Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Civil Protection (2014-18).

The strategy includes an array of actors and recognizes that "disaster risk needs to be elevated as a political priority to ensure the required cooperation across all line ministries and to bring about the required behavioural change in Albanian society".

The challenge facing the country is significant: the current response-focused set-up is over-stretched with the civil protection system increasingly unable to cope with the number and scale of emergencies.

A recent OSCE report said that the Albanian Fire and Rescue Service is understaffed, under-equipped and not sufficiently trained. The country also lacks a standard emergency services number.

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ALBANIA looks to regional insurance