Im­pact of cli­mate change

As well as the need to slash greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation), the Paris Agreement also requires each country to adapt to the implications of climate change (GRI 103-1). Switzerland has been making considerable efforts to protect against natural hazards for many years, taking the predicted effects of climate change into account. The insurance industry has supported various projects within the industry, the federal government or municipalities in connection with natural hazard prevention for many years (GRI 103-2). The most important projects are listed below (GRI 103-3)

Damage to buildings caused by extreme weather events has increased steadily in recent years. Depending on the location and type of construction project or building, the potential options include structural, technical or organisational measures. Since protection against natural hazards is not a mandatory requirement in many areas, property developers and owners are responsible for the matter themselves. The platform ‘Schutz vor Naturgefahren’ offers specific tips and all the basic information available in Switzerland. The website was completely redesigned and updated in 2020. The ‘Schutz vor Naturgefahren’ project is backed by key players in the area of building protection: the association of cantonal buildings insurers (VKG), the Swiss Insurance Association (SIA), the Swiss homeowners’ association (HEV), the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects (SIA), the association of Swiss cantonal banks (VSKB) and the association of Swiss municipalities (ASC). 

Thunderstorms triggering hail events cause substantial damage time and again. In Switzerland, more than a third of all claims relating to damage to buildings caused by natural perils are due to hail events. In the agricultural sector, hail damage amounting to between CHF 40 million and CHF 150 million occurs every year. The proportionality of protective measures against hail depends not only on the costs of the measures, but also to a considerable degree on the expected probability of occurrence. Better climatological data bases for planning and prevention efforts makes an important contribution to the economy. In a joint project with the stakeholders involved, a new hail climatology for Switzerland is currently being developed under the auspices of the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss. The project results will be made freely available to all users from the public and private sectors. The SIA is heavily involved in the project, which is scheduled for completion in the course of 2021.  

In order to keep building damage to a minimum in the event of a severe hailstorm, the individual components must be able to withstand the impact of a hailstone. The hail register includes a list of components tested for hail resistance. New components are tested and published every year. The SIA also supports the work on this register. 

In 2016, the Federal Council decided to implement the 67 measures listed in the report ‘Umgang mit Naturgefahren in der Schweiz’ (Dealing with Natural Hazards in Switzerland) to improve safety against natural hazards. It commissioned the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) to prepare a report on the status of implementation of the measures. The report, which was prepared under the leadership of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and presented in 2020, shows that, although Switzerland is on track, there is still a lot of work to do. Currently, 25 per cent of the planned measures have been implemented. As some measures are implemented jointly with the insurance industry, the SIA was also involved in preparation of the report. 

With the help of a support group from administration, practice and research, successful flood protection strategies that can be taken by homeowners are identified and communicated with the help of films. Credible protagonists from the target group report on the flood protection measures they have implemented successfully. Three of these films have already been made and were released in spring 2020. The SIA provided active support in this project. 

In addition to the projects supported by the association and thus the entire insurance industry, individual insurance companies have provided financial support for various protection projects.