Heat pump insurance cover downgraded for many home owners in France

Wood-burning stoves are also affected following a court ruling

You should discuss insurance options with artisans before installing a pump
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Property owners who install a heat pump (pompe à chaleur) are now less protected by insurance policies after a court ruling in favour of insurance giants Axa. 

The decision overturned a 2017 law which saw greater insurance rights for people who installed certain eco-friendly equipment, including heat pumps and wood-burning stoves/inserts.

Between 2017 and 2024, workers installing these renovations had to– in theory – take out additional insurance that included a 10-year guarantee (assurance décennale) for defects from the installation. 

Now, this only has to be done when the pumps are being installed in newly-constructed properties.

The Cour de cassation, France’s highest judicial court which made the ruling, said the additional cover “did not result in increased protection for project owners,” and therefore would no longer be required from March 21 onwards.

You can read the full ruling here.

Artisans attested to the court that even though getting the 10-year insurance was obligatory, the increased cost of the premiums meant they did not always do so, even if they were liable to criminal proceedings for not having it.

Installations on existing homes will still be covered by contractual liability and general consumer rights law, but the 10-year insurance is no longer obligatory. 

Artisans however may still choose to take it out if they wish, or if they include it as part of a quote to property owners. 

Read more: Noise is top concern stopping heat pump installation in France

Court backtracks on previous ruling 

The 2017 ruling came into force after an incident in 2012 when a couple installed a wood-burning insert at their home.

A defect caused a house fire, which subsequently destroyed the property, and the couple claimed €142,000 in insurance. They also wished to claim an extra €80,000 from the installer for the faulty installation. 

Insurer Axa refused to pay out this additional amount, as the property was an older home (i.e, not newly constructed with a heat pump as part of the original design), leading to the Cour de cassation to rule the guarantee applies to all properties, and that the 10-year insurance was obligatory for all artisans.

However, soon after the Public Prosecutor’s Office (parquet général) launched an inquiry into the law change, alongside insurance providers, to assess the impact of the ruling. 

It found that not only did artisans not take out the insurance at a higher rate on older homes – even if it was now obligatory – but that prices had increased for doing so at an unreasonable rate.

Alongside the National Consumer Institute, it said property owners ‘do not have the reflex’ to demand workers invoke an insurance request, and only the artisans can do so themselves.

Read more: Firm proposes funding renovation of French property for a share of it

Although installations after March 21 can still be covered by civil liability insurance, this does not provide as much protection as a 10-year warranty, nor does it cover all types of malfunctions. 

You should discuss insurance options with the artisans in question if you are planning on making eco-renovations.