With unpredictable weather becoming a regular event, here’s what you need to know about Home Insurance

When it comes to home insurance, not all policies are created equal so it’s better to be informed than find out too late that your home isn’t covered.
While certain factors can significantly increase your premiums, the good news is there are some easy solutions to keeping them down.
We asked our insurance partner Fabien Pelissier from www.fabfrenchinsurance.com to throw some light on the subject.

Here are some of the tips he shared with us:
The first is the locks you choose. If your valuables account for more than 30% of your insurance policy, most insurers will reduce your cover or increase your premiums unless your doors are fitted with a three-point lock. That basically means one lock at the top, one at the bottom and a deadbolt in the middle to enhance the strength of the doorjamb.
The second tip to keeping your premium reasonable is to understand what is and isn’t covered in the event of power surges, power cuts or lightning strikes. They are often an optional extra that you need to look out for. There is usually no excess applied to lightning if it is part of a storm which falls into the special category of ‘natural disaster’.  However, your local Mairie has to first declare the area as a ‘zone de catastrophe naturelle’ for the excess to be waived by your insurance company. A single lightning strike is considered neither a ‘natural disaster’ nor an ‘act of God’ so the usual excess associated with a power surge claim will still apply.

Other natural phenomena have their own constraints.

For example, hail damage to greenhouse windows or transparent plastic coverings is never covered except in very specific policies or clauses. Frost damage to in-ground pipes is usually your responsibility unless you have a very specific policy. Most water suppliers (Suez, Sidec, Lyonnaise des Eaux, Véolia and others) are happy to give you a quote to cover the in-ground pipes between their infrastructure and your home. Pipes inside your home are covered.

No matter what sort of weather damage your property suffers, the claims process is always the same. If it’s a ‘small claim’ (usually under 5,000 euros, depending on your policy) you are responsible for organising a quote for the repairs which you send to the insurance company. Once they have approved it, minus the excess, you can move forward.

In the case of a large claim, the insurance company will send an assessor and you will be required to source multiple quotes. For example, for a flooded kitchen, you would need to provide quotes for leak detection, plumbing, fitting a new kitchen, plastering, painting and possibly more. The assessor will offer compensation based on the quotes you provide, so it’s in your best interests to be thorough.  If the quotes are considered relevant by the assessor, you are likely to be offered a full refund, minus the excess which is fortunately only applied once. Each quote must be provided by a qualified artisan, and the assessor will be quick to point out any inflated pricing. If the damage to your property is so severe that you need to move out until the repairs are complete, you will need to organise that yourself but are likely to be refunded rent and relocation expenses.

It is important to understand that accidental damage is never covered in France, which includes damage caused to your belongings by you, your children or your pets.  Insurers in France will only compensate for the damage itself and never for the cause of that damage. For example, if you have a property wall that leans towards your summer kitchen and one day falls down on it, the cause of the damage will be viewed as property maintenance which is your responsibility. The rule in France is simple.  If your claim is not directly linked to something specific (water leak, flooding, lightning, fire etc) then there is no ‘source’ to the problem and therefore it is considered a property maintenance issue, which is entirely down to you.

Here are some other quick insurance facts that might help you decide which policy is right for you.

– Some parts of the country are considered by insurance companies to be higher risk than others. For example, the southeast of France is windier than the Dordogne, and this will be reflected in the cost of the policy.
– A ‘room’ is defined as a space of more than 7m2 that is watertight, windproof, insulated, heated and furnished.
– Most insurers will offer benefits to customers with a connected alarm system.
– For insurance purposes, the definition of ‘Valuables’ includes collectables, jewellery, rare coins, precious metals & stones, paintings, rare books and any item worth more than 2,000 euros.

Kind regards, French Connections HCB Team

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