The catastrophic floods of last week in western Germany will cost insurers up to 5 billion euros, the German industry federation GDV said on Wednesday.
"We currently expect insured losses of 4 to 5 billion euros," said Jörg Asmussen, managing director of the insurance federation, in a statement.
This makes the atmospheric depression called Bernd, which mainly affected the two Länder of the Rhineland, "one of the most devastating of the recent past", he added.
Strong disparities between regions
Almost all the inhabitants of single-family houses and collective dwellings in the country are protected against the risks of storms and hail, but "only 46% are protected against other natural risks such as heavy rains and floods", argues the GDV. There are also strong disparities between regions: in Rhineland-Palatinate, only 37% of policyholders are covered by the dangers of natural disasters, and 47% in North Rhine-Westphalia, against 94% in Baden-Württemberg, where this coverage was compulsory until 1993.
The last heaviest record in terms of compensation for insured losses dated from August 2002 with 4.65 billion euros.
The floods were caused by the flooding of the Elbe in the east of the country, following severe weather that had affected all of central Europe.
A new estimate of the losses will be released next week, says GDV.
Read also "We have nothing left": on the road to a Germany devastated by floods
170 dead and 749 injured in the floods
In Germany, bad weather caused extensive property damage, making communications and inspection of the damage even difficult.
Striking images show entire neighborhoods washed away by the rains, with houses gutted, roads split in two and electricity grids destroyed.
In West Germany, nearly 170 people lost their lives according to the latest report on Wednesday.
This assessment remains provisional while many people are still missing.
Rhineland-Palatinate, the region most affected by the bad weather, recorded 117 dead on Monday, "and there are 749 injured", according to Verena Scheuer, a spokeswoman for the Koblenz police.
Read also Floods in Belgium and Germany: 3 infographics to understand the scale of the disaster
Angela Merkel's government on Wednesday approved initial emergency aid worth several hundred million euros to relieve the victims. In a project to be adopted by the Council of Ministers, Berlin and the regions, competent in matters of civil protection, undertake to pay in equal parts a sum of 400 million in immediate aid, according to a document that has filtered through several media Germans.