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Theft Insurance Claims in France

Friday 04 December 2020

What proof of existence and of value is necessary for making a theft insurance claim in France?

Under Article 1353 of the Civil Code, an insured victim of a burglary must prove not only the reality of their claim, but also the pre-existence of the stolen property and its value.

The law does not stipulate how proof of existence and value should be provided, although in general, insurance contracts will set out what is necessary.

The insurer may, however, challenge the adequacy of the supporting evidence provided.

In a recent case considered by the French insurance Ombudsman, the Médiateur des Assurances, an insured person had been the victim of a burglary at his home and sought compensation from his insurer for 10 gold bracelets purchased from a jeweller based abroad.

To demonstrate the existence and value of the stolen jewellery, the claimant provided two receipts from the jeweler.

These receipts mentioned the number of bracelets, their carats, the purchase price, the name of the insured and the date of the transaction.

The documents did not include certain mandatory references for invoices under the French tax and commercial law, such as the invoice number and the method of payment used.

The insurer had thus refused to compensate the insured for the theft of the bracelets.

In considering the dispute, the Ombudsman stated that the provisions of French law concerning invoice requirements cannot be imposed on a trader based abroad.

Accordingly, whilst the claimant could validly provide the two receipts from a jeweler based abroad, the insurer could challenge the probative force of the receipts, which, in the absence of the required information, did not prove the pre-existence of the stolen bracelets.

The insurance contract also permitted the claimant to provide other proof of existence, such as photos, but they were unable to do so.

As a result, the Ombudsman considered that the insured did not provide proof of the pre-existence of the bracelets and their claim was rejected.

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