Floods cause catastrophic destruction to life and livelihood in South Asia than any other parts of the world. This research assessed long term (2001 to 2015) flood risk at South Asia level using eight-day Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer data and subsequently expanded this methodology to identify potential zones for piloting flood index insurance scheme in Bihar, India. Bihar was further assessed for sub-regional segmentation of its 37 districts into four flood risk zones based on k-means clustering and Getis-Ord Gi* analysis of multi-modal dataset consisting of demographics, meteorological, agricultural, flood characteristics and economic loss from floods. Satellite based risk assessment identified parts of Indus basin in Pakistan, Ganges basin in North India and majority of Bangladesh as flood hotspots. Site prioritization for flood index insurance in Bihar identified Madhubani, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur and Sitamarhi districts as very high flood risk districts by both methods signifying large impact of any potential interventions implemented in these districts. © 2018, © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.