France recognises catastrophe naturelle across 163 communes nationwide

The official decrees come after severe storms hit in September. They enable people in the communes listed to claim on insurance for damage

A photo of a tree that has fallen onto a house due to a storm
The catastrophe naturelle status enables people to claim for damage on their insurance
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France has recognised a state of natural catastrophe (‘catastrophe naturelle’) in 163 communes as a result of widespread storm damage between October 2019 and September 2022.

A decree dated September 19 in the Journal Officiel recognises a state of natural disaster in 128 communes across 39 departments, as a result of the storms that occurred in this time period.

Another, from September 20, recognises the state in 35 further communes across 12 departments. This decree came into effect in response to the damage caused by severe drought and soil rehydration between July 2019 and December 2021.

Each acknowledges that damage had been caused by flooding, mudslides and ground movement, as well as wind, partly due to effects linked to the ongoing drought and rehydration of soils.

A state of natural catastrophe (catastrophe naturelle) is an official status, in place since 1982, whereby the state recognises damage caused by natural phenomena (drought, violent storms, flooding, mudslides, avalanches, or earthquakes). It is sometimes colloquially shortened to ‘cat nat’.

Declaring it officially means that insurance company claims can be submitted under this clause, enabling those with damage to be reimbursed more easily.

If you wish to claim for damage under the status, you have 10 days from the declaration of the status to declare it to your insurance company.

Read more: France’s ‘catastrophe naturelle’ insurance system: how to claim

Departments covered include: Bouches-du Rhône, Cantal, Finistère, Gard, Gers, Gironde, Haute-Garonne, Ille-et-Villaine, Indre-et-Loire, Loire, Somme, Var, and many more.

A full list of the departments recognised as part of the decrees can be seen on the website.

These latest decrees come after the ‘catastrophe naturelle’ state was declared in June this year, after mudslides and heavy hail caused extensive damage in the Dordogne area (however, hail damage specifically is not covered by catastrophe naturelle clauses, but by separate household insurance).

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