How do we lodge our claim for subsidence?
How do we deal with the administrative part of a subsidence claim?
Subsidence (affaissement des terres) is covered by most household insurances (assurance multirisques habitation) but is subject to the laws relating to catastrophes naturelles.
This means that claims can only be met if you have the relevant insurance and if the government has published a decree arrête interministériel in the Journal Officiel declaring a state of catastrophe naturelle covering the home’s location.
Once that is done, the way is open for insurance companies to pay out quickly and claims have to be lodged with them within 10 days.
If the subsidence has been caused by spectacular floods, which affected many people in the area, there is a good chance a decree will be issued soon after the event.
But if the subsidence has been caused by drought, you may face a long battle to get a ministerial decree of catastrophe naturelle.
The first stop is to ask at the mairie if one has been issued.
If not, you can ask the mairie to get one from a ministry, usually the Ministère de la Cohésion des territoires in Paris.
If there are lots of people in the commune in a similar situation, getting them all to ask the mairie to intervene is likely to have more effect.
You will probably have to pay for a survey, although it might be covered by the legal support protection juridique clauses of your household insurance.
The more pressure you can bring to push the claim along, the better the chances it will be successful.
As well as the mairie, talk to your MP (député), sénateur, departmental and regional councillors and anyone else who might have influence.
Keep the mairie informed of what you are doing so it is not likely to feel you are going behind its back.
Be warned, though – it can take a long time. Some communes where properties were damaged in the 2003 heatwave had to wait 10 years for a catastrophe naturelle decree.
If successful, you will have to contribute a franchise légale of €1,520 if the damage has been caused by drought, or the re-hydration of the soil.