Jun 8 2011
Holiday home insurance is not something many people outside the industry would claim to be an expert in. In fact, most people find the complications, clauses, exceptions, conditions and ‘acts of god’ confusing enough when it is all discussed in their first language. Imagine trying to make sense of it all in another country!
Luckily, the British insurance sector is putting up strong competition with French providers in the area of French holiday homes insurance, so you may find it worth your while to simply deal with a local company this side of the channel. Also, with a little patience, a good translator and by not rushing into anything, you should be able to navigate the vagaries of French insurance policies with no serious problems.
French Insurance Companies That Offer Services in English
If you have yet to perfect your mastery of the Gallic tongue, can’t afford a professional translator, or simply prefer to ‘do French’ (excuse the pun) then it should come as a relief that there are plenty of French insurance firms prepared to deal with you and your policy in the English language.
Legal Requirements for Purchasing French Property
Many a French holiday home sale has fallen through at the last hurdle for one simple reason. Unlike in the UK where insurance policies are not required at the point of purchase, French law demands that you have buildings cover, including cover for natural disasters or ‘acts of god’ – BEFORE you sign the final act.
Big Differences between French & English Home Insurance
Third party liability is the cornerstone of French property insurance. This means that basic home insurance may not provide sufficient cover if you intend to rent your holiday home to clients. Always find out if your policy would cover damage or accidents caused to or by a tenant on your property.
You will probably realise early on when talking to French insurers that what you call Insurance is called Assurance in France. Worth noting – and it makes sense really.
Another big difference in the way home insurance works in France is that policies are based on the number and size of rooms in the property. You must be very careful to report this properly, and be even more careful to have your insurance adjusted if you make any changes to the property. A new veranda, the removal of a dividing wall, even the addition of a porch could invalidate your cover.
Renewing your insurance is another aspect that works differently in France. In the UK, your insurance policy will expire if you do not actively renew it each year. In France, the insurer will renew it unless you specifically instruct them not to.
French or English – Some Things are the same!
Of course, whatever country you are in – an insurance policy is an insurance policy. You will need employer’s liability cover, contents insurance and, if you intend to let your holiday home in France, loss of earnings cover. Make sure you understand your home insurance policy down to the small print, particularly with regard to any obligations on you, the owner. Just as in some areas of the UK, you may find that it’s hard to get unoccupied holiday home insurance for contents if the property will be left empty for any length of time – this is certainly a big issue in Paris, France and Bradford, UK!
While you are entitled to optimism, and may feel like your insurance policy costs too much, just remember that if and when something serious goes wrong…
…your insurance policy will be the single most important deal you ever signed.
Raoul Jouk is an independent writer specialising in travel, music, holidays, society and culture. He is currently working to improve awareness of the issues surrounding French property insurance. With a particular emphasis on French holiday homes insurance , he is investigating the dangers and pitfalls of unoccupied holiday home insurance which negatively affect thousands of inexperienced buyers who enter the market unprepared.