By Biljana Markova
Belgrade, Serbia – Following devastating floods and landslides earlier this year affecting over one million people, a major regional insurance conference opens today in Belgrade to highlight the benefits that disaster risk financing can bring to a region where there is a growing culture of disaster risk reduction through implementation of the priorities laid out in the Hyogo Framework for Action.
The conference aims to bring together local and international stakeholders in an attempt to provide a forum for a broad and comprehensive overview of the challenges brought by natural hazards in the region which have inflicted heavy economic losses.
The Swiss-based Europa Reinsurance Facility Ltd. is holding its Second Regional Insurance Conference entitled “New Generation of Insurance Solutions” today and tomorrow in the flood-prone Serbian capital of Belgrade. The event is supported by the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the project “Building Resilience to Disasters in Western Balkans and Turkey” co-financed by the European Commission through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance and co-implemented by UNISDR together with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The event will demonstrate the main components of Europa Re programme which is currently being implemented in its Shareholder Member Countries in Southeast Europe - Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania. Through diverse expert sessions the conference will also emphasize the impact of natural hazards in the region, the importance of addressing natural hazards and the various perspectives on boosting demand for catastrophe insurance.
Dr. Heinz Christian Vollenweider, CEO of Europa Re, said: “Our aim is to present the results of Europa Re’s team work by demonstrating the catastrophe insurance products and product supporting technologies. The Europa Re programme is a new generation of insurance solutions to mitigate the negative impact caused by natural hazards in South East European countries and provide long-term financial security in the region.”
The devastating floods that occurred in Serbia last May - the worst since records began 120 years ago – resulted in dozens of casualties and enormous economic losses within the country and the region affecting at least 1.6 million people in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. There were over 2,000 landslides across the Balkan region. Since then, Serbia has been reviewing its disaster risk reduction strategy, including possible long-term benefits from non-structural measures such as disaster risk financing and insurance solutions.
Stefanie Dannenmann-Di Palma of UNISDR’s Europe Office, said: “Catastrophe insurance and weather risk coverage remains almost non-existent in households and businesses alike in the South East Europe region. However, efforts are underway to change this. A disaster risk financing strategy can help ensure that the Serbian Government, businesses, and people can access financial protection, like adequate budget reserves, and risk transfer solutions, such as insurance.”
According to a joint report by Serbia, the European Union and the World Bank Group, the problem of low penetration of catastrophe insurance is caused by a number of factors, including the lack of understanding of the need for, and the benefits of, catastrophe insurance; the reluctance of local private insurers to offer this type of insurance, the absence of reinsurance due to the high costs associated with risk modeling and the development of catastrophe insurance products, and limited technical capacity of local insurers to meet the high risk management requirements for catastrophe risk financing.
Europa Re 2nd Regional Insurance Conference "New Generation of Insurance Solutions" is a two day event held at Metropol Palace Hotel in Belgrade, on October 1st and 2nd, 2014.
Europa Reinsurance Facility Ltd. (Europa Re) is a Swiss-based specialty property catastrophe reinsurance company owned by the countries of Southeastern Europe (SEE). Europa Re offers reinsurance support to insurance companies in the countries of Southeastern Europe to enable them to provide homeowners, farmers, enterprises and government organizations with affordable insurance coverage against weather risk and geo-related perils.
Europa Re is supported by the World Bank under the SEEC CRIF (Southeast Europe and Caucasus Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility) project, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the United Nation Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Regional Office for Europe and the European Commission.