California Flood: Central Valley Risk Analysis

By Lloyd's and JBA Consulting

Although California is currently enduring its worst drought for 1,200 years, record rainfall that has hit parts of the state over the last month along with a strengthening El Niño has highlighted the fact that flooding remains a significant natural peril in the region.

California’s Central Valley spans 19 counties, is home to 6.9 million people and contains $1 trillion of insurable assets. Despite containing over 20,000km of levees and flood control structures, the Central Valley has a particularly high vulnerability to flooding – a vulnerability that is likely to rise as this infrastructure is eroded by climate change and as population expansion increases the pressure for urban development on protected floodplains.

This report from Lloyd’s seeks to estimate the potential scale of impacts arising from a severe flood in the Central Valley. JBA Consulting, the research partner commissioned by Lloyd’s to investigate this question, calculated the potential exposure at risk for a 1 in 100 year flood in the region by analysing exposure data against a Global Flood Map, and used the output of this analysis to consider the implications of such an event for public and private flood insurance schemes.

The analysis in this report is intended to support insurers to achieve more accurate risk-based pricing, which in turn should ensure claims can be paid and encourage responsible risk management. When this approach is combined with advanced modelling and forward-looking analysis, the private (re)insurance sector can play a major role in sustainable flood resilience.

Posted on August 12, 2015 .