Thousands of homeowners in France can now claim compensation for damages after the government published a list of the areas worst hit by last year’s drought.
More than 3,000 communes have been classified as having been ‘natural disaster zones’ over one or more periods in 2022.
The full list was published in the government’s Journal Officiel on Wednesday (May 3).
It means property owners now have one month to claim for compensation from their insurance companies.
It comes after MPs voted in favour of changing the criteria for an état de catastrophe naturelle, to allow people whose property has suffered damage due to drought to claim an insurance payout.
Parliament adopted the bill on April 6, by 115 for and nine against.
At the time, MP Sandrine Rousseau described the “nightmare” of homeowners being caught in “administrative procedures”, only to be poorly compensated by insurance for the damage. She said that more than 10.4 million homes could be in an at-risk area.
“Residents describe major breaking noises during the night. Sometimes doors won’t open, and windows only stay shut if they’re held in place by props,” she said.
Which communes have been declared drought natural disaster zones?
This list shows the number of communes in each French department declared as natural disaster zones due to drought in 2022.
Please note some communes have been counted twice or more. This is when they have been recorded as being natural disaster zones more than once during 2022, for example from January to March and then again from July to September.
Ain: 53 communes
Territoire de Belfort: 5
How do I make a claim?
To claim on your assurance catastrophe naturelle, you must first check your policy to ensure your property is covered for the specific circumstance. It is typically included in all common multi-risk insurance policies (assurance multirisques habitation).
If you have this policy, once the government has officially declared a catastrophe naturelle in your specific commune or area, you can then move ahead to make a claim.
Once these conditions have been met, you are advised to contact your insurer as soon as possible to discuss making a claim. The limit used to be 10 days, although the most recent decree specifies that this has been extended to one month.
You can make a claim by phone call, email or text, whichever method is easier. You should also confirm the claim with the insurance company by registered mail with an acknowledgement of receipt (lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception).
Your insurance company should detail the information that it requires, and you may also be asked to send photos or videos.
Your compensation should be sent within three months, depending on the complexity of the claim.
What if I am a second-home owner and not in France?
The process is typically the same. There is no extension to the claim date deadline for second-home owners.
However, some second-home insurance policies do not require you to visit in person, and will instead allow for an expert to visit your property and assess the damage if you were away when the natural disaster occurred.
It will of course depend on your specific insurance policy, but most do not cover indirect costs, such as loss of earnings if you usually rent the property out, unless this is specified elsewhere in your insurance contract.
Do you own a property that was damaged by last year’s drought? Will you be making a claim for compensation?
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