This study investigated risk-reduction behavior at the household level in three European Union Member States with fundamentally different insurance and compensation schemes. It sought to understand if and how insurance and public assistance influence private risk-reduction behavior.
Data were collected using a telephone survey (n = 1,849) of household decisionmakers in flood-prone areas. The study showed that insurance overall is positively associated with private risk-reduction behavior. Warranties, premium discounts, and information provision with respect to risk reduction may be an explanation for this positive relationship in the case of structural measures. Public incentives for risk-reduction measures by means of financial and in-kind support, and particularly through the provision of information, are also associated with enhancing risk reduction.
In this study, public compensation is not negatively associated with private risk-reduction behavior. This does not disprove such a relationship, but the negative effect may be mitigated by factors related to respondents' capacity to implement measures or social norms that were not included in the analysis. The data suggest that large-scale flood protection infrastructure creates a sense of security that is associated with a lower level of preparedness. Across the board there is ample room to improve both public and private policies to provide effective incentives for household-level risk reduction.