Ten tips on insurance claims for storm damage in France

How to navigate the French insurance system if your property or belongings have been affected by high winds or rain

Take photographs of the damage and secure your property if you are able
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Storms Ciaran and Domingos, between November 1 and 5, were jointly the fifth worst to hit France, leading to 517,000 insurance claims – at a cost of €1.3billion.

Homeowners were behind 91% of the claims, with damage to homes making up 84% of insurance payouts, trade body France Assureurs says.

As bad weather becomes more and more of a year-round risk, we give tips to help you prepare for storms and deal with any damage.

Read also: What rises are expected to house and car insurance in France in 2024?

1. Check your insurance policy for exclusions

Check home and car policies for exclusions, especially if you have minimum cover.

“It’s better to check before a claim is needed rather than after,” a spokesperson for the insurance firm Allianz said.

Home insurance will include storm cover called garantie tempête or évènements climatiques for damage to house and contents caused by gales, such as falling trees and damaged or torn-off roofs. Heavy snow or hail is also often covered.

If water gets into the home due to intense rain, it could fall under évènements climatiques or otherwise the guarantee for dégâts des eaux (water damage), which would also cover issues such as burst pipes.

2. Check what is covered outside

External fixtures and fittings, such as gates and sheds, might not be included and the same goes for swimming pools, verandas, fencing and trees.

A spokesperson for Direct Assurance said many homeowners lack cover for outside items such as garden furniture or the cost of clearing away or replacing fallen trees that have not damaged the home.

Often you can add such items with a small rise to your premium for a pack jardin. Separate garden policies also exist.

Direct Assurance also noted there can be a high demand for repairers when an area is widely affected, leading to delays.

3. Prepare your property

To minimise the risk of damage, there are steps you can take before a storm hits:

  • cut back trees and overhanging branches that could fall on your house or car
  • secure items that might be blown away by strong winds
  • if you do not already have them, install shutters or window guards
  • make sure your roof and gutters are checked regularly
  • pay attention to local weather and storm warnings

In the absence of an alert, the homeowner is well covered if the event is confirmed and other residents in the same area have suffered damage, the Direct Assurance agent said.

Read also: Tips to help avoid chimney fires as numbers increase in France

4. If your property is damaged

You must contact your insurer within five days by telephone, registered letter or email.

They will tell you if a surveyor is required. They may also ask for a bad weather certificate (certificat d’intempéries) from Météo-France.

Take photographs of the damage and secure your property if you are able.

If you repair some damage yourself, keep receipts for materials as your insurance company will need them.

Alternatively, call in a professional firm and get a quote.

5. If your vehicle is damaged

If a storm brings down a tree that does not belong to you on to your car, this is force majeure and the tree’s owner is not liable.

If you have comprehensive cover, your insurer will pay for the damage to be fixed.

On average, the excess is €150 to €200. You are not covered if you only have third-party insurance.

Storm cover can also include towing if your vehicle can no longer be driven.

6. If your property is flooded

Storm damage caused by floods – not just rain getting into the home – will require a natural disaster declaration.

A natural disaster decree will be published in the Journal officiel, which specifies the locations affected, the type of damage and what caused it.

To make a claim, you must have comprehensive, multi-risk property insurance that automatically includes compensation – or standalone cover.

You must claim within 30 days of the decree being published.

7. If you are without power

If your property is without electricity for more than five hours due to a storm, energy grid operator Enedis will automatically pay a lump sum of €2 (excluding VAT) per kVA of subscribed power for every five consecutive hours of energy lost, up to a limit of 40 consecutive five-hour periods.

Enedis pays your electricity supplier, which deducts it from your next energy bill.

Enedis’s 24/7 breakdown service is 0972 675 0+ (department number).

8. Frozen food losses

Most standard home insurance policies, even comprehensive ones, do not provide for the loss of frozen food through power loss.

Check if you have electrical damage insurance or a household appliance option, as it might compensate you.

Read more: Does insurance cover food in fridge ruined after power cut in France?

9. Your excess payment

The excess on your insurance policy will remain in place.

If a natural disaster is declared, it is capped at €380 for homes and personal property.

If your roof and furniture are affected, it doubles to a maximum of €760.

10. Receiving compensation

After approving a claim, your insurer will make an offer for compensation. Payment is usually made within 10 to 30 days.

In the event of a natural disaster, your insurer has three months to pay compensation.

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