Reader experience: We recently had a water leak in our home and it appears that our insurer (Allianz) does not cover repairs to the pipes where the leak occurred. It seems this is standard and we cannot have additional cover for this if we get any more problems in future.
Like many areas of French life, the rules for insurance are strictly codified.
In the case of insurance, it is the Code des Assurances – a book of roughly 2,400 pages, weighing 900g, which you can buy at most bookshops for just over €100.
It is updated every year.
Insurance firms have to base their policies on the rules, some very old, set out in the code, which is why there is not a great deal of variety in the cover they offer.
For leaks, the code specifies that repairs to a canalisation, which includes internal and external pipes, are only covered if the damage is accidental.
Common examples (provided by insurance company MAIF) are if a lorry drives over an external pipe buried in the ground, which results in the pipe being crushed, or if you drill through your wall and accidentally hit a pipe in the process.
In these cases, an insurer will usually pay out for the repairs to the pipes, subject, of course, to the terms and conditions stated in your policy.
Pipe leaking for unknown reasons
In other cases, where a pipe starts to leak for unknown reasons, the insurance company will not pay up.
This is because pipes are included in the parts of a house that homeowners are responsible for keeping in good order.
Replacing the plumbing due to wear and tear is a homeowner’s responsibility.
A similar logic is applied to leaks caused by frost.
Homeowners are responsible for ensuring that pipes are insulated, so insurance companies will not pay to have frost-related leaks repaired.
Most insurance companies, however, have standard household contracts which will pay out to repair or replace items damaged by the water – just not for the pipe repairs.
If you really want insurance for your pipes, you could ask an insurance broker (courtier d’assurances) – there is usually one in most larger cities.
They could find a company that offers a bespoke insurance package covering pipes.
Note, however, that they will probably be based outside of France and you should expect a higher estimate.