Zurich Insurance Group announced a CHF 21 million [$22.18 million] five-year alliance with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Zurich said its five-year commitment would serve as the foundation of its “global flood resilience program, which aims to enhance community flood resilience by finding innovative ways to increase the impact of disaster risk reduction efforts at the community, national and global levels.

“The first country program will take place in Mexico.”

Zurich said it has committed to the flood resilience program “because floods affect more people globally than any other type of natural disaster and are responsible for some of the largest economic, social, humanitarian and insured losses. The program is being embedded within Zurich’s General Insurance business, making use of Zurich’s insurance and risk expertise around the world.”

Mike Kerner, CEO of General Insurance, explained: “Floods are expected to have a growing impact due to natural factors, such as the increase in extreme rainfall events and rising sea levels, and man-made factors such as population growth and the number of homes and businesses in areas exposed to flooding. At the same time we believe that there is too little emphasis on pre-event flood mitigation, as opposed to post-event flood relief. This is a gap that Zurich can help fill because we have relevant risk management and insurance expertise.”

Zurich’s flood resilience program will be focused “on developing and disseminating knowledge and expertise on flood resilience,” said the announcement. “It will have an impact at the local level through strategic long-term alliances with the public sector, NGOs, private sector organizations and academia, and will also look at the contribution insurance can make when it comes to flood risk.

“The Z Zurich Foundation and the organizations it cooperates with play an important role in Zurich’s global flood resilience program, an initiative that forms part of its broader corporate responsibility strategy.”

Zurich explained that the goal of the alliance with the IFRC is to “maximize the community impact of the program, Zurich has committed to a long-term strategic alliance on flood disaster risk reduction with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Together with the IFRC, Zurich will enhance community flood resilience through the development and application of innovative disaster risk reduction solutions.”

Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the IFRC, commented: “Combining the risk expertise of Zurich with the deep disaster preparedness expertise of the IFRC in this alliance – one of the largest private sector co-operations of the Federation – will help to achieve a significant impact on communities at risk from floods and will help reduce devastating impacts.”

Zurich also noted that it has been working with the IFRC since 2008, and that it expects “this alliance to become a model that can be replicated globally. The Z Zurich Foundation, following the strategic investment in the amount of $100 million made by Zurich last year, will invest up to CHF 21 million in the alliance over the five years to 2017. Zurich employees with relevant skills are also expected to invest an average of 500 working days per year in the alliance.”

Source: Zurich Insurance