As part of the purchase process of your property in France you will need to organise house insurance cover.
Perhaps because of concern about language, international buyers sometimes foolishly obtain insurance cover from an insurer in their home country when they would almost always get a cheaper price by using an insurer based in France.
If you need help with language then best to seek it out.
To get house insurance in France the various approaches are as follows:
If you can speak some French then one very useful place to start is with an on-line comparator site.
A newer entrant into the market is the French affiliate of British company Confused.com, called lelynx.fr.
Alternatively, look through your local French yellow pages under assurances and you will find several pages of insurance companies, agents and brokers.
Whilst in theory you can take out an insurance policy over the internet, it is not often an easy process to accomplish.
Moreover, most on-line insurance applications are limited to those with a certain profile; if you present unusual circumstances, and/or you are a high-risk client, then most internet sites are unlikely to process your application.
Some insurance are also reluctant to broadcast too readily to their competitors their premium levels, so may require that someone making an enquiry on the internet makes contact with a local agent to obtain final details.
In all cases you will be asked to complete a questionnaire (proposition d’assurance), which will enable the insurance company to evaluate the level of risk and the premium payable.
The insurance company is then obliged to provide you with a clear written explanation (in French of course!) of the premium payable, the guarantees, and the manner in which they operate.
As might be expected, it is essential that you provide information that is correct and do not commit error by omission, failing which you may well not be covered in event of claim, or have the contract cancelled by insurance company.
At the best of times, insurance companies anywhere in the world seek to minimise their risk, and this applies in no small measure to France, where procedures are often very strict and policies often narrowly interpreted.
You are going to need to try and understand some of the detail of the policy, or risk not fulfilling the qualifying criteria should you need to make a claim.
If you do not have a reasonable command of the French language, it would make good sense to get some assistance with translation before you sign.
The consequences of an inaccurate or false declaration depend on the level of intent in the declaration and its materiality as determined by the insurer.
Where you can demonstrate that it was an accidental error then, if the error is picked up by the insurer, or yourself before a claim, you may be asked to pay an increased premium. Where it the error is found following a claim the level of the compensation may be reduced.
In the case of deliberate false declaration the policy can be nullified, as though it had never existed. Where the insurance company has already paid out on a policy they can seek full reimbursement.
If you need immediate cover you can obtain provisional cover through a note/lettre de couverture, although the insurance company is not obliged to offer it to you.
All contracts will contain an excess charge (franchise), which is the responsibility of the insured party. The excess may be a fixed sum, or a percentage of the indemnity, or mix of both.
It is generally possible to negotiate the level of the excess, so that for a higher excess figure the premium is reduced, and for an extra payment you may be able to remove an excess altogether.
Cooling Off Period
House insurance contracts concluded over the internet, telephone or at home have a ‘cooling off’ period of 14 days, during which time it is possible to withdraw without penalty.
Otherwise, there is no period allowed for withdrawal after signature, unless specified by the insurer.