Prior to 2022, hail was considered an easily insurable risk in France, yet the damage it caused last year suggests that changes to pricing and insurance risk assessment are necessary to ensure hail cover remains sustainable in the long term.

Author: Mark Hubbard


Natural catastrophe (Nat Cat) cover is compulsory in France, and most motor and property policies include a defined premium loading for the protection. Before 2017, average combined ratios were well below 100%, meaning insurers were making a profit. Since 2017 (the first year of the drought and subsidence losses, and Hurricane Irma), average Nat Cat ratios have been trending well over 100%, and insurers have been losing money.1

France has a natural disaster compensation scheme, which French public reinsurer Caisse Centrale de Reassurance manages. Hail losses haven't been included in this scheme to date.

While the final loss figure is still to be determined, total insured hail loss from severe convective storms (SCS) in France last year is already estimated at EUR 6.4 billion, comfortably making it the costliest year on record.1

Before 2022, the 2014 Pentecost storms (aka Ela) had been the highest hail property loss, at EUR 600 to 700 million. Consequently, it was used as the key industry benchmark, and from this benchmark, insurers assumed that events of this severity should be expected every 20 to 50 years. However, Maya hit in early June 2022, closely followed by Qiara in the same month, and both exceeded the 2014 loss and forced the market to reconsider its previous assumptions, as a property SCS loss event of EUR 600 to 700 million feasibly now could occur in less than 10 years.2

Last year’s extreme weather prompted French newspaper Le Monde to publish "How Climate Change Could Make France Uninsurable," in which it claimed the “climate bill” in 2022 was EUR 10.6 billion.3

Unlike the shock hail losses, drought has hit France in five out of the six most recent years. Insurers’ models predict periods of eight consecutive years of drought by 2050, with exposed areas expanding to the north and west of the country. Six of France’s 10 hottest years since the beginning of the 20th century have occurred in the last decade, with 2022 and 2020 being the top two.

Consensus is growing that the hotter, drier climate in France is contributing to an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather. The insurance industry is expecting EUR 43 billion in subsidence claims between 2020 and 2050. In the previous 30 years, losses in this area totalled EUR 13.8 billion. The weather also contributed to extreme wildfires, burning around 66,000 hectares.

To learn how Nat Cat events in different parts of the world are shaping the future of insurance, read the seven-part report, How Is the Increasing Risk of Extreme Weather Changing Insurance?


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