Bulgaria: September flooding emphasizes once again the insurance gap

8 September 2022 — Daniela GHETU
A torrential rain caused rivers and streams to overflow flooding several villages in Bulgarian Plovdiv Province on 02 September 2022, leaving over 500 people in need of safe housing by damaging several hundred houses, as well as infrastructure.

According to FloodList, the flooding was reportedly 1.5 to 2 meters deep in some areas. Local media reported the entire village of Bogdan was under water at one point after an embankment along the Stryama River failed. At least 200 homes across the province have been damaged or destroyed. Damage to infrastructure left the area without electricity and drinking water. Bridges and roads were also destroyed leaving some villages isolated. Military helicopters were used to deliver relief supplies and carry out the rescue of around 6 people. A further 40 or more people were rescued by boat. As of 05 September, a total of around 500 people had moved from their homes to safer locations.

According to local authorities quoted by the Novinite news agency, "it will take 1-2 months to clean up the damage, and that the infrastructure will be restored by this time next year."

While the occurrence of such a disaster cannot be prevented, measured should be taken for advance planning of the urbanized territories and improvement of the stability of the buildings. "It is necessary to actively work with insurers," Chief Commissioner Nikolov said. Unfortunately, people are not insured, he added, explaining that "the reasons are because in villages, near rivers, the insurance premium is very high, and people do not have such funds."

In Bulgaria, insuring property against natural hazards is voluntary. While insurance coverage is largely available, either within or as an additional endorsement to the standard homeowner/fire policy, according to various sources only about 7% - 10% of Bulgarian homeowners are insured against damages arising from natural disasters.