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Reader question: Should I insure my Italian home against flood or earthquake damage?

Jessica Lionnel
Jessica Lionnel - [email protected]
Reader question: Should I insure my Italian home against flood or earthquake damage?
Homes and shops damaged by a 4.8 magnitude earthquake in Zafferana Etnea, Sicily, in 2018. While most earthquakes in Italy are small, major quakes have caused enormous damage. Photo: GIOVANNI ISOLINO/AFP

It may not be something you've ever considered in your home country, but if you own a home in Italy you might need additional insurance against floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

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Italy regularly features in the international news due to natural disasters. Most notably, in spring 2023 the region of Emilia Romagna was devastated by flooding, and many other parts of the country regularly experience earthquakes, giant hail, or increasingly frequent and intense storms or wildfires.

People who move to Italy can be alarmed to discover just how common these events are, and an area’s flood or earthquake risk should always be taken into consideration before buying a home. You can check these risk levels on the Italian civil protection agency's website.

READ ALSO: Which parts of Italy have the highest risk of earthquakes?

Despite these risks, insurance companies say the vast majority of homeowners in Italy do not have policies which would cover damage caused by natural disasters.

Only five percent of Italian homes are adequately covered by insurance, according to Dr Francesco Blasi, commercial director at national insurance broker RC Polizza. A major reason for this is that regular home insurance doesn't typically cover natural disasters.

“Natural disasters have a variable frequency and intensity that can be difficult to predict,” says Blasi. 

“This makes risk assessment and premium determination more complex than for other types of risks.”

MAP: The parts of Italy most at risk from floods and extreme weather

Natural disaster coverage has become an extension to home insurance policies, but Blasi argues that people shouldn’t see it as optional.

This is especially true for those who live in high flood risk zones such as Venice, or the central regions of Abruzzo, Umbria, and Marche for their earthquakes.

People walk in Venice during floods in 2019 which caused millions of euros worth of damage. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

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“A home is not just four walls and a roof. It is a place of memories, laughter, family moments, a real refuge. A natural disaster can snatch it away in a moment,” he says.

“It's not just about repairing a roof or a wall. After a disaster, there are a thousand expenses you wouldn't even think about: clearing away debris, finding a place to stay, putting your belongings away safely

“And then? Would you be able to continue paying a mortgage on a house you no longer have and at the same time pay rent?”

How to insure your home against natural disasters

Costs for such insurance policies range from around 40 euros annually to over 100, according to price comparison site seguigio.it

The procedure for getting home insurance for protection against natural disasters depends on the type of insurance company you decide to go with. 

Some are more in depth and ask for geological survey results or building structural certificates, on top of information about your home and where it is. Once all of this has been assessed, a suitable plan is presented to you.

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For people who live in apartment blocks, there are two options: you can either take out insurance on the apartment you own, or you can get the other apartment owners involved and take out a policy for the whole building. The premium would be reduced in this case.

International residents can obtain insurance just as Italians can, as long as you own the property and you’re not renting it. 

If you own a property in Italy, but are resident abroad and do not hold an Italian passport, you may need to look for a policy in your country of residence that would cover the Italian property. 

Though uptake is still relatively low, Blasi says, the Italian market is growing following recent events with many seeing that the risks could only increase in future. 

“Images of displaced families and children have deeply touched the collective conscience,” he says.

Overall, the decision of whether or not to get natural disaster protection for your home depends on factors such as budget, residency status and the risks in your part of Italy.

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Comments (1)

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paul Rivas 2023/11/01 15:32
40-100 Euros ha no way you are looking at 1000,s

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