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Longer deadline for natural disaster insurance claims on way in France

Claimants in a zone officially declared as having been hit by a catastrophe will have 30 days, instead of the current 10, to make claims

People claiming insurance payouts have an extra 20 days to make a claim Pic: Obatala-photography / Shutterstock

People claiming insurance payouts after natural catastrophes, such as floods caused by storms, are to have an extra 20 days to make a claim.

They should also see claims dealt with faster and more generously after a law changing the current system was voted through parliament.

The current deadline for claims is just 10 days after the government declares an incident as a catastrophe naturelle via publication in the Journal Officiel

Coverage for such disasters is compulsory in standard multi-risk house insurance policies. It covers payments for damage directly linked to an event. 

However, indirect costs, such as rehousing and loss of earnings, are not covered unless mentioned elsewhere in the contract.

The new law keeps the system where natural catastrophe insurance is paid out of a special fund, paid into by insurance companies and the government. Cash for claims can still be unlocked only after the government has declared a situation of natural catastrophe for the commune where the insurance policy applies. 

Read more: Floods and landslide in southwest France: Disaster insurance granted

Claimants will have 30 days under the new law to get their paperwork in order, and insurers must pay out within 21 days after the claim is approved.

A system of franchises (excesses) imposed by insurance companies for communes that do not have formal “plans for the protection of foreseeable risks” has been done away with, meaning people making claims from these communes should get more money.

Special mention is made for subsidence claims on clay soils after the number of people fighting to have their commune declared an area of natural catastrophe for this has shot up.

Read more: Half price home insurance scheme expands to Paris

Insurance companies will also now pay for repairs to stop existing damage getting worse when the structural integrity of a building is damaged due to subsidence after a natural catastrophe has been declared for the commune. 

However, further changes, including a suggestion from insurance companies that cracks which do not threaten the structure of a building should be removed from the natural catastrophe category, were left out of the new law.

Instead, another parliamentary commission was set up to examine the subject.

No date has yet been given for implementation of the new law – all its provisions depend on government decrees and other texts, some of which could take years to come into force.

The Fédération française de l’assurance, the French insurance trade body, forecasts  the cost of such claims will double from 2020 to 2050, compared to 1989-2019.

It estimates claims of €134billion will have been made by 2050, due partly to climate change but also because a higher standard of living means claims are higher.

Related stories:

Natural disaster declared after droughts around Toulouse and Côte-d’Or

Dordogne, Nord: ‘Natural disaster’ claims open for hundreds of areas

Investigation into cause of Var wildfire begins as blaze slows

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