2. Types of Home Insurance in France
2.2. All Risks House Insurance Cover
An all risks (multirisques) insurance policy will cover, not only your public liability, but your home, personal belongings, and those of your household.
The risks covered will include those of fire, explosion, theft and flooding, leaks, storms, snow, vandalism, broken glazing, natural disasters and acts of terrorism.
As with responsibilité civile the insurance policy will also cover your actions in daily life, but not those in a car, plane, or on a boat, for which specific insurance is required.
Some policies include insurance for sports participation, school trips, employment or business activity and holidays, but you need to ask.
However, the policies vary considerably in the extent of their cover, so you do need to read the small print.
i. Accidental Damage to Possessions
Most policies will not cover accidental damage (breakage) to your own possessions caused by you or a member of your household, although damage resulting from accidental fire or water leakage caused by you/your household will be covered. If you want the policy to cover accidents to yourself or member of your household as a result of your own actions you need cover for 'accidents de vie'.
ii. Empty Property
If the property is empty for part of the year then you need to make this clear to your insurer, as there may well be implications on the level of risk cover they are prepared to offer, particularly in relation to insurance against theft. Clearly, such a clause d'inoccupation is going to be an issue for those with a second home in France! There are likely to be specific requirements in relation to security of the property, which may also apply more generally in the policy in relation to claims resulting from burglary.
iii. Other Buildings
If you have a number of different buildings on the property then you need to be clear about their inclusion (or not) in the contract. You will normally need to specify that you also require cover for sheds, barns and other buildings not annexed to the main property. If these buildings are not locked, then you may be unable to insure the contents. Similarly, there may be limits on the value of effects the insurer is prepared to cover in ancillary buildings.
iv. Business Use
If you have tools, equipment and other effects on the property that you use in your business, they may not be automatically covered by the household policy. You may need to take out separate professional insurance.
v. Holiday Lettings
If you let your house out for holiday periods you should ensure your policy covers temporary letting of the property.
vi. Communal Spaces
If the property is an apartment, or there are communal spaces or services shared with others, the freeholder or management company will take out insurance in relation to these areas, but you will still need to take out insurance for your own and belongings and private property.
vii. Electrical Items
Policies differ widely on the level of cover they provide to electrical items in the property resulting from electrical surge, or poor functioning of equipment. Some policies simply exclude damage to electrical items resulting from an electrical surge.
viii. Insurance Valuation
In the event of a claim household effects are normally guaranteed for their actual value at the time of the claim. In the absence of anything more precise insurers will take the original purchase price and make a percentage deduction for each year of ownership. Thus, a washing machine may be discounted by 10% for each year you have owned it.
Some policies offer new for old (valeur à neuf), thereby enabling you to buy a replacement item from the proceeds of the insurance claim. However, do not assume that this would enable you to replace a 10-year-old television with the latest 40cm plasma!
In addition, if the insurer considers that the original purchase price of the item to be in excess of that normally paid in the market, a percentage reduction will be applied to the base figure.
Insurers may also apply an age limit on new for old items, so that, for instance, it may not apply to a refrigerator that is more than five years old.
In relation to re-building costs to the property itself, the cover can vary widely. A deduction will normally be made against the new construction cost in respect of the age and condition of the insured property. This has potentially very significant financial implications, for if the insurer will only reimburse on the basis of historic or discounted costs/values then you will not obtain full compensation for the re-construction costs you will face. You need to examine your policy and discuss with your insurer. Only compensation at current prices will ensure you are fully covered.
The insurers also normally require that the clause will only apply where reconstruction work is undertaken within two years of the claim.
All of these valuations will be applied on top of any excess that may apply generally to the policy.
The policy will not offer full cover for valuable objects such as jewellery and antiques, so you may need to take out specific cover for such items. We cover this issue in a separate section in this guide.
If you have animals, then you need to examine the policy to establish whether it offers you public liability insurance for damage caused to others.
x. Expert Assessor
Some policies cover the costs, in part or whole, of engaging an expert assessor (other than one that may be appointed and paid by the insurer).
xi. Temporary Accommodation
You will need to examine the policy to see if it covers the cost of temporary accommodation where this is necessary.
xii. Legal Costs
Finally, many policies also offer cover for legal costs (protection juridique) involved in defending, or making a claim. This additional cover is normally available at little cost, but you need to check the circumstances when it can be triggered.
Next: Sports Insurance
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