Increased attention has recently been given to the possible role of financial services in the management of natural disaster risk. Local communities have been at the forefront of developing innovative disaster risk finance strategies and implementing risk-oriented incentive programs. In view of increasing risks, including the impacts of climate change, such programs will become more important. This paper examines four models and some recent experiences in using financial services at the community level. The paper offers an overview of advantages and limitations of each model to manage disaster risk in communities. Examples include a federal government initiated scheme of social protection funds, a local government risk reduction scheme, an insurance product provided by a non-governmental organization, and a micro-insurance scheme. Finally, the paper offers some directions about specific ways that the public and private sectors, in collaboration with other partners can improve finance alternatives for disaster management at the community level. It appears that a range of follow-up studies and further dialogue is needed, in order to expand the knowledge on what types of risk finance models can help manage and reduce the financial impacts of natural disasters. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.