Water leaks, blocked pipes: what does home insurance cover in France?

All contracts include certain guarantees, but you may not be covered as well as you think

Standard insurance contracts offer protection against leaking pipes, but not clogged pipes
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Home insurance contracts in France must all include certain guarantees, we look at what these are and how you can get more coverage for your home.

In France, home insurance will reimburse you in case of certain types of damage to your home, usually following an appraisal to determine the cost of repair by approved contractors.

However, home insurance contracts vary considerably in price both in the range of guarantees they offer and in terms of the franchise - the amount that you have to pay out of pocket.

This franchise can be either relative or absolute, and determines whether the insurer will pay out following damage to your home.

For a relative franchise:

  • If the cost of repairs is less than the cost of the franchise, then the insurer will not pay out.
  • If the cost is more than the cost of the franchise, then the insurer will pay out

For example:

If the franchise cost is €150, you will receive nothing if the value of damage is only €100. However, for €200 of damage the insurer will pay you €200.

For an absolute franchise, the cost is systematically deducted from the repair cost paid out by the insurer.

For example:

If the franchise cost is €150, you will have to pay to repair any damage under this value. However, for €200 of damage, you will pay €150 and the insurer will pay €50.

The costs also vary depending on the region where your property is located. The most expensive regions are Corsica, Ile-de-France and Paca, and the least expensive are Brittany, Pays de Loire and Normandy.

Read your home insurance contract carefully to check how much you may have to pay in case of damage to your home. You can change your insurance contract for free at the annual renewal date.

What are the essential guarantees in a French home insurance contract?

All home insurance contracts in France include:

  • Public liability insurance (responsabilité civile)
  • Water damage (dégât des eaux)
  • Window breakage (bris de glace)
  • Fire damage (incendie)
  • Theft (vol)
  • Natural disasters (catastrophes naturelles)
  • Climatic events (évènements climatiques)
  • Terrorism

Most of these guarantees are familiar to people from the UK and US, however there are some differences in France.

The theft guarantee usually only applies if people close their shutters when absent for more than 24 hours, and is limited to a certain value stated in your contract.

The natural disasters guarantee, which can apply to floods, can only be used when the local prefect has declared a natural disaster.

Note that home insurance contracts do not apply to:

  • Buildings under construction
  • Fields, plants
  • Outside pipes
  • Garden shelters
  • Swimming pools

You will not be covered, for example, if the water connection leaks between the mains and your home unless you pay for a Pack canalisations (waterpipe pack) guarantee in your insurance.

Similarly, you will have to take out a Pack Jardin (Garden Pack) to insure garden sheds, for instance.

Read more: Advice if home in France is damaged in storm - and what about cars?

What is a contrat d’assistance?

Some companies propose greater coverage to complement home insurance contracts, called contrats d’assistance (assistance contracts), which can be particularly useful for second-home owners or people who are absent from their home for long periods.

Such contracts can help with:

  • Plumbing
  • Locks
  • Electricity
  • Connected devices
  • Gas
  • Nuisances (insect infestations)

While standard home insurance contracts pay for repairs to leaking pipes and water damage, contrats d’assistance can pay for repairs to clogged pipes.

Is home insurance mandatory?

Home insurance is mandatory for people renting, including people renting furnished apartments.

It is also mandatory for home owners in a co-propriété, such as an apartment block or shared residence. These guarantees cover the responsibilité civile between the home owner, the co-propriété, neighbours and other residents.

However, homeowners do not have to take out insurance if they are not in a co-propriété.

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