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Disaster zone for 32 Riviera towns

Policyholders have 10 days to lodge their claims with insurers, who must pay up within three months

THIRTY-TWO communes on the French Riviera have today been officially classified as natural disaster zones, in a move that will open up insurance claims for those affected by last weekend's flooding which killed 20 people.

A ministerial decree has been published in the Journal Officiel, opening a 10-day window for homeowners and businesses to lodge their claims - and insurers have extended this to October 31.

Insurers are required to send an advance on the payout no more than two months after the claim is lodged, with the balance following before three months have passed.

The storm on Saturday took just two hours to devastate large parts of the Riviera, wth 180mm of rain falling on Cannes, 159mm at Mandelieu, 100mm at Valbonne and Biot and 90mm at Nice.

A meeting of insurers and ministry officials was held yesterday to free up state funds to help local authorities clean up.

18 departments in the Var are covered by the natural disaster classification:

Les Arcs, Brignoles, Cabasse, Callas, Camps-la-Source, Flassans-sur-Issole, Flayosc, Forcalquier, Fréjus, Méounes-les-Montrieux, La Motte, Néoules, Puget-sur Argens, La Roquebrussane, Saint-Antonin-du-Var, Saint-Raphaël, Le Thoronet, Trans-en-Provence>

The 14 communes in the Alpes-Maritimes are:

Antibes, Biot, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Cannes, le Canet, Mandelieu-la-Napoule, Mougins, Nice, Roquefort-les-Pins, La Roquette-sur-Siagne, Téoule-sur-Mer, Valbonne, Vallauris, Villeneuve-Loubet.

Alpes-Maritimes prefecture has set up a floods solidarity page on Facebook where those affected and anyone who would like to help can get information/as for help. It is at Facebook/Intemperies Solidarité 06

How it works

Most home insurance policies include cover for natural disasters (catastrophes naturelles). A typical “multirisques” policy will include damage from earthquake, flooding, drought, landslide and surging waves – and an insurer cannot refuse to cover you for this, unless you live on land which is considered not fit for construction or in violation of planning laws.

However, insurers will only process claims once a state of natural disaster has been declared by ministerial decree (arrêté interministériel). This clearly defines the zones affected and the nature of the damage.

A claim can normally be started by telephone or fax and the supporting documents can be sent after the 10-day deadline if the case has already been opened. Special second home insurance policies often include a provision for an expert to visit your property and assess the damage themselves if you are away when a natural disaster happens.

You will need to supply a description of the damage, a list of all the lost or damaged items and proof of ownership and their value (bills, photographs). Take photographs of damaged items but you should not throw them out - especially in the case of valuable items as the insurer may call an expert to visit and assess the validity of the claim. If you need to carry out any urgent repairs or cleaning, you should take photos first.

More info on natural disasters and insurance can be found here

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