Flood defences helped mitigate losses from last week’s storms

Claims from extra-tropical cyclone Xaver, which hit the UK and Europe last week, will be lower than for October’s Christian storm according to risk modelling firm AIR Worldwide.

AIR estimates that Christian, which battered Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, France, UK, and Sweden in late October, will cost insurers between €1.5bn and €2.3bn (between £1.3bn and £1.9bn).

AIR senior research associate Dr Nicolai Thum said: “Based on initial assessments, Xaver’s wind impact is expected to be less than that of Christian, as wind speeds were generally lower in regions affected by both storms.

“Winds toppled trees and caused widespread roof damage throughout the affected region, but significant structural damage is expected to be limited.”

One of the factors limiting claims in the UK were flood defences. AIR cited figures from the Environment Agency (EA) that said 1,400 properties were damaged from flooding in coastal communities in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, northeastern Wales, and by heavy rain that caused rivers to burst their banks.

However, the EA also said that more than 2,800km of flood defences protected more than 800,000 homes from the storm surge. It added that the Thames Barrier was closed twice, protecting London from flooding.

The story was similar in other affected areas. Thum said: “In Germany, six-metre-high waves battered Hamburg, the second highest surge level since 1825, the first year for which recorded measurements are available.

“Tidal floods that hit Hamburg were similar to those that drenched the city in 1962, causing the worst flooding in living memory. Hamburg’s harbour area and historic ‘Fischmarkt’ were submerged by Xaver’s storm surge. However, improved coastal defences along the North Sea limited Xaver’s impact.”