Using a Global Flood Event
Set to expose the protection
gap in China

Flood insurance penetration in China generally remains low, despite a high risk of flood across the country, including in areas of significant infrastructure and economic development. It has been estimated that 97.5 % of economic flood losses on the Yangtze in June-July 2016 were uninsured (Munich Re, 2017).

This discrepancy between exposed value and insured assets – termed the “protection gap” – is caused by a wide range of cultural and economic factors, making it difficult to quantify. However, catastrophe modelling can raise awareness of the impacts of flood risk in a region by estimating the financial costs of flooding. This helps build an appreciation of the benefit of flood insurance, encourages the purchase of insurance, and enables re/insurers to price flood insurance adequately to make it both affordable and profitable. These benefits of catastrophe modelling can help to close the flood protection gap. 

The need for a global flood event set

This estimation of financial losses is only possible with a robust event set. JBA’s Global Flood Event Set (GFES) is a first-of-its-kind catalogue of over 15 million river and surface water flood events across the entire globe and is used within our Global Flood Model. Each event in the catalogue represents a cluster of river and surface water extremes which may be entirely contained within a single country such as those shown in Figure 1 for China, or across international boundaries. You can find out more about the GFES in our previous blog, A global perspective on inland flooding.

Figure 1: Four inland flood hazard events with GFES catalogue numbers 01100664, 01110714, 00911745, 01057587 extending over 67, 133, 50, and 190 simulation points respectively. All events are entirely contained within the border of China.

Because the GFES simulates combined inland flooding from all rainfall generating mechanisms including typhoons, it provides a complete risk profile which can be used to comprehensively estimate the financial impact of flooding. For China, JBA’s flood modelling has shown that flooding caused by non-typhoon rainfall contributes an estimated ¥347 billion (USD $50 billion) to the total expected 200-year return period flood loss. This represents up to 50% of all estimated flood losses in China and demonstrates the real risk that flooding poses in the country.

Through quantifying the magnitude of flood risk, the first step is made towards addressing the protection gap. This case study emphasises the need for robust data and modelling tools to assess reinsurance opportunities in emerging insurance markets.

The GFES can be licenced separately for in-house catastrophe modelling and is compatible for use with a wide range of third-party modelling platforms including JCalf, Oasis Loss Modelling Framework, the Nasdaq Risk Modelling service and Impact Forecasting’s ELEMENTS. Consultancy led catastrophe modelling services using the GFES are also available from JBA Risk Management. In addition to modelling inland flood, our event generation methodology is flexible meaning that it can be extended to include other perils such as coastal inundation - which is available in JBA’s UK Flood Model – and wind.

For more information on how our Global Flood Event Set, Global Flood Maps or Global Flood Model can help you manage your risk to flood around the world, get in touch to speak to a member of our team.


Munich Re., (2017). Like a hole in the sky. [online] Available at: [Date accessed: June 2019].