Kashmir flood sparks wave of property insurance sales


Insurance companies in Indian-administered Kashmir, which was hit by a destructive flood last September, have collected substantially higher premiums this year as property owners seek to avoid further financial losses from weather-linked disasters.

Mustafa Kamal, insurance head for Bajaj Allianz which has region’s biggest customer base, said the firm had recorded a 50 per cent increase in policies by mid-June, and expected to see an even bigger rise by end of the year.

Ravindra Koul, senior manager with United India Insurance, said its policy numbers had jumped by nearly a third this year as people move to protect their homes and business properties.

“With the spread of awareness about insurance among the educated class, the growth rate in insurance policies all across India is only 10 per cent this year, while Kashmir has recorded a 30 per cent increase because of last year’s disaster,” Koul said.

Experts have warned that extreme events like September’s floods will occur more often in future due to climate change. Research published in Scientific American in March predicted that river flooding will worsen in the coming years, with the biggest disruptions expected in Asia — mostly India, followed by Bangladesh and China.

Koul said the 2014 floods had also made people aware of different aspects of property insurance — most importantly getting a correct valuation.

Before, over half of business owners were insuring their property, but many were doing so for less than the market value to get cheaper policies, he added.