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Assurance habitation: How to get home insurance in France

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Assurance habitation: How to get home insurance in France
Make sure you are covered for damage. Photo: AFP
13:26 CEST+02:00
Whether you are the proud owner of your dream home in the French countryside or are renting a place in the city, here are a few tips to find your way in the wild world of French home insurance.

Is there a go-to insurance for a principal residence?

The insurance most French people choose to go with is l'assurance multirisques or assurance tous risques - multi-risk insurance. This usually covers the property as such, and events of fires, natural disasters, terror attacks, explosions, water damage, burglary along with a furniture, valuables and high-tech guarantee in case of the latter.

Nine times out of ten, insurance of this kind also include la responsabilité civile, or civil liability. This means you are also covered if you cause any damage to your neighbor or a third party. Make sure this is included in your insurance.

If you are renting the place you live in, the responsabilité civile also acts as a guarantee towards the owner.

You should still pay attention to les clauses d'exclusion. These are basically circumstances under which the insurance company will not indemnify you, generally because of false or late declarations of damage and the non-payment of your dues.

Which company should I choose?

Several types of companies can offer insurance. Depending on the economical model you want to participate in, here are your two options: les mutuelles d'assurances or les sociétés d'assurances - non-profit mutual funds such as MMA or Groupama, or private insurance companies like Allianz or Axa.

Most banks also offer insurance to their clients and use private insurance companies as intermediaries.

To compare insurance prices, you can still use popular price comparison websites like lesfurets.com or meilleurstaux.com.

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Is insuance mandatory?

Here are the two possible scenarios.

  • You live in your own house: Insurance is not mandatory, unless you are part of a collective ownership. If so, you are legally bound to have a guarantee of civil liability.
  • You rent a place: It is more than likely the rental agency or the owner will ask you for an attestation d'assurance habitation - certificate of insurance - upon signing the lease, and then every year to prove you are still insured.

Do I need to change my insurance during renovation work?

Some insurance organisations will not compensate you if you suffer damage during while renovating a house since risks are higher.

You should check beforehand if guarantees in your contract also apply during periods of renovation work. In any case, you can still sign up for a guarantee extension or change insurance altogether.

If you are using external contractors such as builders or plumbers make sure they are insured as well: l'assurance de responsabilité décennale guarantees the company will have to take charge of any defects in the ten years following the construction work.


Major renovation works could alter your insurance. Photo: AFP

Once the renovation is over, you have 15 days to inform your insurance company of the changes to be indemnified to the correct amount in case of future incidents. This should be done through registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.

On the downside though, the price of your insurance will probably go up. You have 30 days to refuse the augmentation and cancel your insurance.

Is there a specific insurance for second homes?

Some companies offer insurance packages for second homes, but they are actually pretty similar to the multi-risk insurance you would choose for your main residence. The only specific to check here is the clause d'inhabitation, or non-occupation clause.

In multi-risk insurance, this provision allows the insurance company to refuse compensation if the house is unoccupied for more than 90 days in a row, and even sometimes as little as 60, especially in the event of burglary or water damage.

How to terminate an insurance contract?

Your contract is automatically renewed every year. You can cancel it by sending a termination letter, again through registered letter, two months before the end of your contract.

Some helpful vocabulary

dégât des eaux - water damage

cambriolage - burglary

clause d'exclusion - exclusion provision

clause d'inhabitation - non-occupation clause

extension de garantie - guarantee extension

assurance tous risques - mulitirisk insurance

assurance de responsabilité décennale - ten-year liability insurance

lettre de résiliation - termination letter

 

 

 

 

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