Breizh Poellrezh SF - Douarañ Santel
Breizh Poellrezh SF - Douarañ Santel

Insuring your home

While it is obligatory to insure your home if you rent - a tenant is liable for damage to a property including the common spaces of an apartment building – it isn't if you own your own home. However, it is advisable that you have some sort of cover for disaster such as fire and flood, as well as burglary at the very least.

Regardless of whether you insure your home, you must take out civil liability insurance (responsabilitée civile propriétaire) in the event that something that occurs on your property (such as a falling tree or a water leak between apartments) affects your neighbour's home. Unfortunately many owners cut corners when it comes to choosing property insurance and only discover they aren't properly covered when making a claim - and it’s too late.

Whether you are going to use your property in France as a holiday retreat or let it for investment income, it is essential that you arrange suitable insurance cover. Most insurers see bigger risks associated with holiday homes because they are often left unoccupied for long periods, prone to burglary and weather damage. Therefore, finding suitable insurance can be difficult.
By reading this section you will have a good idea of what cover you need and the restrictions to identify that can render your insurance policy worthless.

If your purchase involves a mortgage, the lender or notaire will insist a sufficient level of buildings cover is in place to protect the loan, even recommending a local insurer. Before you choose your policy it is important that you read the small print so you understand the scope and restrictions of cover. This can be a problem as the policy will be written in French and you are probably not fluent, so spend a few Euros for a translation or even contact us.


What do you need?

Buildings Insurance


This is called a contrat assurance multirisques habitation or assurance multirisques vie privée or la multirisque and generally covers the actual structure of your home, outbuildings, garages, swimming pools, walls, gates and fences. These tend to be covered against the cost of repairs or rebuilding following loss or damage caused by earthquake, fire, storm, flood, burst pipes, explosions, lightning etc. Building insurance should also cover permanent fixtures and fittings within the buildings, such as fitted kitchens and bathrooms. Some policies may exclude swimming pools and outbuildings from the buildings cover so check these are included. It should also give you civil liability insurance (responsabilitée civile propriétaire).

We have heard many times that people think they should insure for the current market value of their home. This is WRONG, the sum insured needs to cover the cost of rebuilding the property. The rebuild value is the full cost of reconstruction of the building(s) in their present form, including any associated costs, such as removal of debris, architectural and other professional services. This amount must include all outbuildings, barns, domestic oil & gas pipes, domestic oil fuel tanks, swimming pools, tennis courts, drives, patios, terraces, walls, gates and fences. The price of the land should be excluded.

Calculating the rebuilding cost of your property can be difficult, especially if you have bought an old cottage or farmhouse. You might find the rebuilding cost of such a property is more than the actual market value. To calculate the rebuild value of your home you should ask a local builder, or ideally, a surveyor should be commissioned to assess the amount that a property should be insured for. Your notaire or vendor may also be able to advise you on the rebuild cost. Alternatively if you had a survey report done on the property, there may be a rebuild figure listed for insurance purposes.

Be aware that it is your responsibility to communicate the correct rebuilding cost to your insurer. It is important to get this figure right because if you underinsure you may not get the full amount you were expecting in the event of an insurance claim. Most insurers will automatically index link, which means the sum insured will be adjusted yearly to take into account changes in rebuilding costs.


Contents insurance

Contents insurance typically covers general contents within the home such as furniture, furnishings and electrical equipment. Most policies cover your contents in the event of fire, storm, flood and theft.

To calculate the contents sum insured you should work out how much it would cost to replace your contents on a new for old basis at today's prices. As a rule of thumb when deciding what are contents, include everything you would take with you if you moved home. It is important that you get this figure right and don't undervalue your contents, as in the event of an insurance claim you may not get the full amount you were expecting.
Cover your contents for accidental damage - its surprising what can get broken
Are you covered if you or anyone else damages a chair or a TV?
If you are going to use your home for holiday letting choose a policy that covers accidental damage to your contents, including damage caused by holidaymakers. Guests often aren't as careful as you and accidents do happen.
This typically covers general contents within the home such as furniture, furnishings and electrical equipment. Most policies cover your contents in the event of fire, storm, flood and theft.

To calculate the contents sum insured you should work out how much it would cost to replace your contents on a new for old basis at today's prices. As a rule of thumb when deciding what are contents, include everything you would take with you if you moved home. It is important that you get this figure right and don't undervalue your contents, as in the event of an insurance claim you may not get the full amount you were expecting.

Cover your contents for accidental damage - its surprising what can get broken
Are you covered if you or anyone else damages a chair or a TV?

If you are going to use your home for holiday letting choose a policy that covers accidental damage to your contents, including damage caused by holidaymakers. Guests often aren't as careful as you and accidents do happen.


Legal Liability Insurance

It is very important that you choose a policy which includes public liability insurance, and that it extends to cover holidaymakers if you are planning to let your home. These are litigious times and liability insurance will cover you for legal costs and expenses following death, injury or damage to a third party on or near your property. For complete peace of mind a minimum indemnity of £3m is recommended.

Even if you aren't planning to holiday let your property, it is still advisable to get suitable liability cover. What would happen if you let a friend use your home and they slip in the shower, injure themselves, and have time off work. Maybe they would have to take legal action against you?

If you have a swimming pool ensure that in the event of an accident you are covered under your public liability insurance. You should also check the insurers requirements regarding the our pool safety law. You may discover that unless your swimming pool is properly gated and fenced off with a suitable AFNOR approved pool security system in place, some insurers may invalidate your buildings insurance cover.


Premiums and Local Taxes

Premiums vary according to number of rooms, the area in which you live and, if you’re in an apartment which floor you live on. If your home is unoccupied for long periods make sure you tell your insurer as many policies do not cover your home beyond a specified absence. Our home insurance proposal forms are very similar to their UK cousins; you will be asked a standard list of questions about the property, including how large it is (measured in the number of square metres). Fire alarms are not required either by law or most insurers, however they are recommended for safety reasons. As for taxes your insurer is required to collect insurance taxes on behalf of our Government, so check that any taxes are included in the final price of the premium, including the levy for “Natural Catastrophe” cover.

In addition to the premium the following charges are made to premiums charged for properties: -
Premium Tax
Terrorist Fund
Natural Catastrophe Levy


Some points to consider:
 

  • If you are wanting to build on a piece of land an assurance dommages-ouvrage is compulsory.
  • * If you are renting, the proprietor can insert a clause into the tenancy agreement allowing s/he to terminate the tenancy immediately if you do not have adequate insurance - contrat assurance multirisques habitation.
  • Also consider mortgage insurance – this should include paying off the outstanding mortgage in case of your death.
  • Home insurance is automatically renewed each year. If you wish to cancel it, you must give at least two month’s notice – in writing – otherwise, you are obliged to continue with the policy. Often, by the time you get the renewal notice it's too late to change.


Disclaimer: Please note the information we have provided should be used as a guide. You are advised to read your insurance policy terms, conditions and exclusions to understand the extent of cover provided.

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