Is a natural disaster ruling needed to claim for French home damage?

France has experienced many storms this year

Storm damage is excluded from the usual cases in France where a neighbour can be held liable
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Reader Question: We have been subject to a number of powerful storms recently and are worried about potential damage to our home. Would we need to wait for a natural disaster ruling to make a claim, what if the damage is severe?

The answer depends on both the type of damage your home receives and the type of cover included in your insurance policy. 

In the case of some weather events, such as floods or droughts, a natural disaster (catastrophe naturelle) may later be declared in the affected communes. 

This allows homeowners whose properties have been damaged as a direct result to make compensation claims. Without such declaration insurance companies may not cover any costs.

Once a declaration for your commune has been made you have 30 days to submit your claim. 

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

In the case of storms, however, this is not generally required. 

Most general home insurance policies will offer cover called garantie tempête or évènements climatiques, which includes damage to your property from storms. 

This may include damage caused by hail, or fallen trees, for example. 

However, you should check the exact contents of this part of your policy, and if you are not satisfied, update your policy to better reflect the cover you want. 

Outside furniture, such as items in your garden, may not automatically be covered, so you may also want to include this in your insurance cover.

If your property incurs damage that is covered by this policy, you can make a claim as you would in the normal way, and do not need to wait for any declaration of a natural disaster.

You should contact the company immediately after you notice the damage, or within five days at the latest. 

If your property is a second-home, you may be able to get alternative cover that extends these time restraints.

Your insurer may ask you for a bad weather certificate (certificat d’intempéries) to prove the weather at the time of your claim, which you can get from Météo France

Properties that are damaged by lightning strikes also do not need to wait for any catastrophe naturelle, but insurance companies are likely to ask for a lightning certificate (attestation de foudroiement) as part of your claim. 

These can be ordered from a number of private companies, as well as Météo France, but as the data is supplied directly from the state forecaster, it is usually recommended to get the certificate directly from them. 

Read more: How do I get a ‘lightning certificate’ for French home?