How to insure and prove value of expensive items at your French home

Pieces of jewellery, art or antique furniture may fall outside of standard home insurance contracts. We explain what to do

If you have expensive jewellery in your home, it is worth getting an accurate evaluation for it to declare to your insurance company
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In France, standard multi-risk home insurance does not necessarily cover the full cost of more valuable objects (objets de valeur) that you may have in the house.

This mainly refers to expensive jewellery, paintings, or artworks but it can also include precious metals, high-value musical instruments, home cinemas or other high-value tech devices, etc.

There is no standardised definition of what a valuable object is and so it will vary depending on your insurance policy.

If you have an expensive item in your property, there are three options to ensure that it is covered in case of theft, but more commonly unforeseen accidents such as flooding, fires or storm damage.

Read more:What to do (and not to do) after a home burglary in France

Increase your insurance coverage

When taking out a home insurance policy, the company will ask you to give an estimation as to the total cost of the items in the property. Each insurer has its own cap on the maximum amount you can declare. This can be anywhere from between €60,000 to €250,000 and beyond, depending on the insurer.

The higher the figure you agree on, obviously the higher your premium will be – meaning the amount you pay to your insurer monthly or annually.

The companies may also have a cap on how much they will cover individual objects for. For example, they may only cover up to €10,000 on any specific item, and so if you have a piece of antique furniture worth €15,000, you will only get a maximum of €10,000 in case of theft or damage.

It is important then to accurately evaluate the cost of the items in your home when agreeing on an insurance policy.

If you just have one reasonably expensive item in your home, for example a jewellery collection worth around €10,000, you can declare it to your insurer and see if the total cost of it will be covered by the standard agreement.

It is worth negotiating these elements of your insurance contract when taking out a policy.

You can also modify any existing insurance contract at any time if you think that you have undervalued the items in your home, or if you have bought new items that have significantly increased the overall cost of the items in your home.

Take out high-end home insurance

If you have one very expensive item in your home or you have several expensive pieces, it may be worth taking out high-end home insurance.

Insurance companies such as Axa and Generali offer high-end (haut de gamme) policies that offer higher overall coverage or higher guarantees on specific objects.

Insure specific objects

Another option is to insure specific items.

Companies such as Hiscox allow you to insure specific objects with a very high value. This insurance will sit alongside your standard home insurance.

One advantage is that it covers accidents to the items outside of standard events that can lead to a claim on home insurance,

For example, if your expensive painting is accidentally knocked off the wall, specific insurance for the painting will most likely cover any damages, while standard home insurance will not.

Proving the existence of an item and valuing it

Whether you are declaring valuable objects to a standard insurer or to a high-end insurer, you will need to provide an accurate evaluation of the item.

You will also have to prove to your insurer that the item you wish to be covered does indeed exist.

The easiest way is with a receipt that both describes the item and gives its price.

You can also potentially use customs declarations if you have imported the item from abroad.

If you do not have either of these, you can also prove the item’s existence through a clear photograph that is dated.

Proving you have the item is only the first step though. You will also need to prove its value.

Again, the easiest way is by having a receipt. If you do not have one, then there are other solutions.

One is to find a matching or similar item being sold online.

If you have a rare piece of jewellery, art or furniture that is not being sold elsewhere and you do not have a receipt for it, then you will need to get it valued.

For jewellery, you can take it to a jewellers (bijoutiers joailliers) near you offering evaluation services.

For other art pieces or antiques, you can contact an independent expert. For example, there is the Compagnie nationale des experts or the Syndicat français des experts professionnels en œuvres d’art et objets de collection

Other elements to consider

Some insurance policies require you to not be away from your home for longer than a certain stated period. This can be 90 days, one month or even 48 hours.

It is worth checking this element of your insurance policy, especially for owners of second homes.

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Another thing to consider is that when it comes to valuable objects, the insurance company may require you to keep the item in a safe (if it is jewellery), or may require your home to have a certain level of security (alarms, surveillance cameras, etc.).

It is worth checking this in your contract.

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