Flood Resilience Research — Collaboration with Zurich Insurance


PI/Project contact

  • Jeff Czajkowski

Project members

  • Howard Kunreuther
  • Ajita Atreya
  • Wouter Botzen
  • Karen Campbell
  • Ben Collier
  • Jeff Czajkowski
  • Erwann Michel-Kerjan
  • Marilyn Montgomery
  • Gina Tonn

Project description

The Wharton Risk Center has joined with the Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) and other partners to develop key initiatives and research focused on flood resilience. Funding for this initiative is provided by the Z Zurich Foundation.  This unique interdisciplinary approach will broaden the scope of current flood resilience research, providing extraordinary opportunities to advance global understanding of flood impact, risk reduction, financial protection, and community resilience.

Project metrics


Flood Resilience Portal

The Flood Resilience Portal is the website of the Zurich Flood Resilience Program.  Check in for posts and reports of activities from the program, share your resources or submit a question.  Email: info@floodresilience.net

Interactive Flood Insurance Map

Countries around the world are considering national flood insurance solutions. Insurers are fully involved in these discussions, either because they cover the risk, partner with the national government in various capacities, or because they are contemplating market opportunities.

The Wharton Risk Center has developed an interactive flood insurance market e-platform to analyze residential flood insurance markets around the world. We hope interested parties will provide additional information so that we can add more detail to this international comparison. Browse and query these maps.


  • Pre-event financial protection is key to flood recovery. This policy brief highlights financial capital as a key factor in building flood resilience. In particular, access to pre-event financial protection against flood-related disasters is a vital component. Solutions range from insurance and micro-insurance to pre-arranged post-disaster lines of credit and dedicated government relief programs. Implementation of these solutions should allow for further community resilience investment.
  • Development and testing of a community flood resilience measurement tool  (June 2016, 39 pages.) Given the increased attention on resilience-strengthening in international humanitarian and development work, there is a growing need to invest in its measurement and the overall accountability of “resilience strengthening” initiatives. We present a framework and tool for measuring community level resilience to flooding, built around the five capitals (5Cs) of the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework. At the time of writing the tool is being tested in 75 communities across 10 countries. Currently 88 potential sources of resilience are measured at the baseline (initial state) and endline (final state) approximately two years later. If a flood occurs in the community during the study period, resilience outcome measures are recorded. By comparing pre-flood characteristics to post flood outcomes, we aim to empirically verify sources of resilience, something which has never been done in this field. There is an urgent need for the continued development of theoretically anchored, empirically verified and practically applicable disaster resilience measurement frameworks and tools so that the field may: a) deepen understanding of the key components of ‘disaster resilience’ in order to better target resilience enhancing initiatives, and b) enhance our ability to benchmark and measure disaster resilience over time, and compare how resilience changes as a result of different capacities, actions and hazards.
  • What Motivates Households in Vulnerable Communities to Take Flood Preparedness Actions? Findings from Applied Research in Tabasco, Mexico (April 2016, 20 pages.) Leveraging a baseline assessment conducted in communities in the Mexican state of Tabasco in 2015, we undertook a statistical analysis of the key drivers of adoption of flood preparedness activities in Tabasco at the household level. The baseline assessment was mostly used to assist in diagnosing key risks and existing capacities of a community leading to improved decision-making and in selecting activities aimed at reducing people’s risk to potential flood disasters. It consisted of data from a 63-question survey conducted with 682 households in ten communities. Results indicate that a number of elements already in place in the surveyed communities – such as flood risk maps, early warning systems, availability of shelter – are some of the significant drivers of preparedness actions. Our findings suggest several opportunities for improving and enhancing community preparedness for floods. For example, only 8 percent of the survey respondents indicated knowing their community’s risk map; having knowledge of the risk map is found to significantly increase likelihood of undertaking emergency preparedness.This brief has been translated into Spanish: Que Motiva a los Hogares a Tomar Acciones de Preparacion  
  • Why many individuals still lack flood protection: new findings (August 2015, 11 pages.) While there is general agreement that investing in pre-disaster protection is more effective than waiting for ad hoc post-catastrophe response, there is growing evidence that many people often do not voluntarily invest in loss reduction measures. About 80 percent of residents in the areas of New York affected by Superstorm Sandy had no flood insurance, and a staggering 90 percent of small businesses had no such protection. And while the availability of government relief doesn’t appear to stop people from buying insurance, the amount of aid, if it is very high, could lead people to think they have nothing to lose by not protecting themselves, and encourage them to take more risks.
  • Making Communities More Flood Resilient: The Role of Cost-Benefit Analysis (September 2014, 10 pages.) In this issue brief we outline three key findings that provide information for research, policy, and implementing decisions on reducing flood risk. The analysis provides a foundation for work under the Zurich flood resilience alliance, allowing it to integrate a decision-support toolbox for community activities focused on implementing flood risk reduction in different parts of the world.
  • Beyond Katrina: Lessons in creating resilient communities (August 2015, 23 pages.)  Zurich North America and the Wharton Risk Center’s whitepaper Beyond Katrina: Lessons In Creating Resilient Communities, outlines new flood resilience strategies and identifies the need to devote more resources to preventive measures rather than post-event disaster relief, and overcoming current infrastructure vulnerabilities.