Welcome to our guide to house content insurance in France, your go-to online resource for insuring your French home and its contents. In France, finding an insurer is relatively easy because the business is vast. As a result, insurance premiums are often inexpensive, but you should always read the fine print and pick trustworthy providers.

Quick Look At The Best Home Content Insurance In France

If you wish to make a comparison, you can use Assurland. It is a website for insurance comparison that is only available in French.

Home Insurance Companies In France

When looking for home insurance in France, you have several national and worldwide insurance firms to pick from. Insurance companies and some French banks are among them. Among the notable names are:

Each company’s offer is unique, and it usually pays to browse around to discover the greatest value for your specific scenario. Look for a company that delivers essential information in English as an expat living in France. Companies that provide expat insurance in France include:

Finding An Insurer

You will need to get house insurance to purchase a property in France.

Due to linguistic concerns, international buyers sometimes receive insurance coverage from an insurer in their home country when they would almost always get a better deal from an insurer established in France.

Home Content Insurance In France 1

The following are the many methods for obtaining house insurance in France:

Insurance Agent

An insurance agent (agents généraux/agent d’assurance) will represent an insurance firm in the distribution of its products. Their advantage is that they may be local, allowing you to discuss and amend the specific conditions of the insurance coverage more quickly, which is especially important for initial insurance coverage. However, you will not be allowed to select an insurance carrier.

Insurance Broker

A single insurer does not require a broker (courtier), yet they may be linked to only a few insurers, so don’t be fooled into thinking they will scan the entire market for you. Because their revenue is based on commission, you must also be careful not to be given a policy whose scope exceeds your requirements.

Mutuelles

These are non-profit, cooperative-based insurance bodies that can be approached directly. They control almost 40% of the market. Companies such as Macif, Mae, Maaf, MFA, and Matmut are among its members.

Banks

Several banks (bancassurers) have either established their own subsidiary insurance companies or agreed with an insurer to provide insurance to their clients. Pacifica/Credit Agricole, Banque Populaire/Maif, Société Générale/CGU, and Credit Lyonnais/Allianz are examples. In general, their policies are comparable to those of mutuelles, but they are less flexible regarding contract personalization.

High Street Insurance Companies

There is nothing to prevent you from contacting the major insurance firms directly, though surprisingly, few French nationals do possibly put off by the lack of personal touch, as they are frequently required to contact the insurer over the phone or via the internet. Generali, Aviva, Groupama, Gan, AIG, and AXA are among the companies.

Home Content Insurance In France 2

Online Insurers

These are insurers that only provide services online. They may be associated with one or more of the major insurers, or they may be a dedicated subsidiary of an insurer. For example, the insurance business Groupama owns Amaguiz.com, while the mutuelle Macif owns www.idmacif.fr. These online insurers appear to be giving very good rates, yet you should read the fine print and be wary of their claims procedures and practices!

An online comparative site is a great place to start if you can communicate in French. Empruntis and Assurland are two of the largest and most reputable. The French affiliate of the British corporation Confused.com, Lelynx, is a newer player in the market. Alternatively, under assurances in your local French yellow pages, you will discover numerous pages of insurance firms, agents, and brokers. While obtaining insurance on the internet is theoretically possible, it is only sometimes a simple process.

Furthermore, most online insurance applications are restricted to people who fit a specific profile; if you have odd circumstances and are a high-risk client, most internet sites will likely reject your application.

Some insurance companies are also hesitant to advertise their premium levels to their competitors, so anyone inquiring on the internet may be required to visit a local agent for final details.

Questionnaire

In all situations, you will be requested to fill out a questionnaire (proposition d’assurance) that will allow the insurance company to assess your degree of risk and the premium you will be required to pay.

The insurance firm must next offer you a detailed written explanation (in French, of course!) of the premium payable, the guarantees, and how they work.

As one might anticipate, it is critical that you supply accurate information and refrain from making errors by omission, failing which you may not be protected in the case of a claim or have the contract canceled by the insurance company.

At the best of times, insurance firms everywhere want to minimize their risk. This is especially true in France, where procedures are frequently highly strict, and policies are frequently narrowly interpreted.

You will need to understand some of the policy’s details or avoid failing to meet the qualifying criteria if you need to file a claim.

If you don’t have a good grasp of French, get translation assistance before signing.

Declaration

The insurer assesses the penalties for an erroneous or false declaration based on the purpose level of the declaration and its materiality.

If you can demonstrate that it was an unintentional error, you may be forced to pay a higher premium if the error is discovered by the insurer or yourself before filing a claim. If the error is discovered after a claim, the amount of compensation may be decreased.

In the event of an intentional false declaration, the policy can be declared null and void. An insurance company can pursue full recovery when it has already paid out on a policy.

Cover Note

If you require quick coverage, you can seek it through a note/lettre de couverture, albeit the insurance provider is not required to do so.

Home Content Insurance In France 3

Excess

All contracts will include an excess charge (franchise), which is the insured party’s responsibility. The excess may be a fixed sum, a percentage of the indemnity, or a combination of the two.

In most cases, you can negotiate the level of the excess such that for a higher excess figure, the premium is decreased. For an additional payment, you can remove an excess entirely.

Cooling Off Period

House insurance contracts negotiated over the internet, by phone, or in person have a 14-day “cooling off” period. So, during this period you can cancel without penalty.

Unless otherwise indicated by the insurer, there is no time limit for withdrawal following signature.

Insurance In France Of Valuable Objects

Limitations Of Standard Policies

The research reveals that most people are underinsured for precious objects they own, whether jewelry, works of art, fine wines, antiques or rare books, or Persian rugs.

While your standard French house insurance policy will cover such items, there will be a value insured limit likely to be less than the object’s actual value.

Many families do not cover these products because they believe the danger of theft is negligible. Nonetheless, while this may be true in most areas of France, water penetration and damage account for over 75% of claims involving valuable things.

Others do not because they are concerned that the tax authorities may be alerted to the existence of these objects, making them liable to French wealth tax.

In truth, works of art and antiques do not enter into the equation of tax responsibility, although jewelry and precious metals do.

Furthermore, insurance companies are not obligated to notify the tax authorities of insurance plans covering valuable objects valued at more than €15,000 yearly.

Only upon the insured’s death is an insurance firm required to notify the tax authorities of insurance policies covering valuable things held by the deceased.

Examine your normal French home insurance policy to see what they describe as valuable objects and how much insurance they provide for these items.

The definition of a valuable thing (objet de valeur) and the maximum cover differ greatly amongst French home insurance policies.

Home Content Insurance In France 4

More Details

Nonetheless, depreciable home objects in daily use that exceeded the objet de valeur limits did not generally fall into the category of a ‘valuable object’.

As a result, whether it’s your home theater system or your dishwasher, you should check the rules to see what they say about these common goods.

Check the entire level of coverage for valuable items in your typical home insurance policy. A policy may provide €50,000 in insurance coverage but only €10,000 in coverage for costly things. If you own valuable things worth €15,000, you will only be compensated for €10,000 in the event of loss or damage.

You must also evaluate whether the policy will apply if you are absent from the property for an extended period, which is especially important for individuals who own a second home in France. Many insurances exclude coverage if the property is vacant for more than 90 days.

Other restrictions on the policy’s operation may exist, such as a requirement that jewelry is stored in a safe, a requirement for a specific level of security on the property, or a limitation on claims originating from unintentional damage in the house.

To provide stronger insurance protection for certain objects, you must either take out a 5-star insurance policy (Haut de gamme) or arrange specific insurance coverage.

To provide stronger insurance protection for these items, you must either obtain a 5-star insurance policy (Haut de gamme) or organize customized insurance coverage for specified possessions.

Home Content Insurance In France 5

Five-Star Insurance Policies

Most insurance firms, notably Axa (Grande Demeures), Generail (Singulier), and Groupama, provide 5-star coverage (Demeure).

The main advantages of such plans are that they provide a higher degree of guarantee on costly things and usually have fewer restrictions about the extended departure from the property.

Object Insurance

Another option is to purchase customized insurance for certain objects. Axa Art and Hiscox (Fine Art) are the biggest insurers in this industry. Their products are frequently more easily accessible through brokers such as Aon Artscope or Solly Azar. Such contracts provide all possible options suited to each unique object.

These contracts often provide for cover based on a valuation given by an independent expert. This valuation will stay the same throughout the contract unless you act to request that it be revised specifically.

The annual premium payable is somewhat prohibitive. Expect to pay around 3/1000 of the amount insured, with around €300-€500 as the minimum premium level. However, if you want to insure jewelry for loss outside of the property, you can expect a far higher premium.

The insurer will have their minimum requirements for the security of the property.

Valuation of Objects

While it is feasible to receive a valuation from one of the big auction houses, several specific professional groups in France can provide aid.

  • i. French Syndicate of Professional Experts in Works of Art and Collectibles (Sfep).
  • ii. National Chamber of Experts specialized in works of art and collectibles (Cnes).
  • iii. National Company of Experts (CNE).
  • iv. National Federation of Professional Experts Specialized in Art (Fnepsa).
  • v. Conseil des ventes.

The valuation will cost between 1% and 3%.

Terminating Your House Insurance Policy

Until 2015, car and home insurance plans in France were implicitly renewed each year unless the insured individual terminated the policy during the two months preceding the renewal date, unless in exceptional circumstances.

Home Content Insurance In France 6

Loi Chatel

Since 2008, insurers have been required to provide you with due notice of the contract’s anticipated expiry date to remind you of the renewal.

Loi Chatel requires the insurer to send a letter/email 15 calendar days before the two-month notice period.

The letter must include the annual premium or contribution due date and the opportunity to cancel the contract.

If the insurer sends the letter less than 15 days before the notice period begins, the insured has 20 days from the date of receipt to initiate the cancellation procedure.

If the insurer fails to provide a reminder before the expiry date, the client can cancel without giving a reason from the expiry day.

Loi Hamon

Since the ‘Loi Hamon’ of 2014, consumers could cancel their vehicle and home insurance contracts at any time after the contract’s first year.

The ability to terminate is free, with full reimbursement of unused premiums. The client has complete control over the termination date.

Termination can be accomplished with a simple letter or email to your insurance, although it is usually better accomplished through recorded delivery or a personal visit.

The insurer has 30 days to reimburse any outstanding premiums for unused contract time. Interest is payable after this period.

However, in the case of vehicle insurance coverage, a client can only cancel their policy if they can show their present insurer that they have taken out a new policy with another insurer. In such circumstances, the new insurer is responsible for the termination processes.

The insurers successfully fought for this requirement, arguing that without it, the number of uninsured consumers would increase.

The provisions of the new contract do not have to be the same as those of the previous contract, but it must include third-party coverage – Une Garantie responsabilité civile.

The notification of termination must also be in writing and delivered by recorded delivery, and the policy will expire 30 days after the insurer receives the termination letter.

Making An Insurance Claim

Home Content Insurance In France 7

Claims Procedure

There is no specific method for filing a claim. However, time constraints apply. A visit to the agent or phone contact with the insurer must be followed up in writing with claim details.

If you make a written claim, send it by recorded delivery letter (lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception) to prevent the danger that the insurance company will subsequently deny receiving the claim. While a local insurance agent is required by law to accept receipt of an insurance claim from one of their clients, a broker is not required to do so.

So, if you deposit your claim with your local broker and they fail to forward it to the insurer, you may lose your right to claim under the policy. All of this is significant since there are time constraints for filing a claim. The type of the claim determines these deadlines. Unless otherwise specified in your insurance coverage, the time limit for theft is two days and five days for most other claims.

The clock begins the day following the occurrence. Nonetheless, if you are late in filing your claim, it will only necessarily be allowed by your insurer if the delay has a major impact on the amount of the claim. Natural disasters (catastrophes naturelles) have a specific procedure where the claim time is ten days after the official judgment is published. More on the natural catastrophe claim procedure follows.

Theft Claims

You must report a theft ((vol)) to the police, who will issue you a receipt for your report. The event report and claim should subsequently be sent to your insurer through recorded delivery within the time limits specified in your insurance policy.

You must explicitly explain the objects stolen, together with documentation of ownership, if feasible, and an estimate of their value. Keep receipts or images of items as proof of ownership, as the insurance company will require you to present adequate documentation. Your insurer will always cover possessions within the home in the case of a burglary. However, there may be particular limitations for valuable things such as antiques and jewelry. 

Outside effects are not automatically covered. Therefore when you take up your policy, you should ask the insurer about the coverage available for possessions in a barn, shed, or garden.

Insurance coverage will not apply if an item is just “lost” if there is no evidence of a burglary. As a result, if you leave the door open and something goes missing, don’t expect your insurer to pay up. It also does not apply when a family member steals.

A claim may also be denied if the property remains uninhabited for an extended period. Depending on the contract terms, this period could last 90 days. It may not be a certain number of days. As a result, the cover may be void if the property is consistently left empty for three or more days. You must read the policy. This certainly provides a significant issue for people who own a second house in France, for which separate insurance coverage is required.

Home Content Insurance In France 8

Damage Claims

In the case of a claim for damage (sinistre) to your property caused by a fire, a water leak, or a storm, you must typically make a claim directly to head office within five days by registered delivery, with a copy to the local agent. Check your insurance coverage to see when you can file a claim.

As soon as possible after that, give an estimate of the cost of loss, together with proof of ownership.

Insurance companies have their definition of what constitutes a “storm,” however severe gusts over 100kph reported at a local meteorological station are usually required.

If the storm is particularly severe and accompanied by floods, it may be declared a natural disaster (called catastrophe naturelle), for which there is a specific protocol.

Natural Disasters (Catastrophes Naturelles)

Damage to your property caused by a ‘natural calamity,’ such as drought, avalanche, earthquake, or flooding, is covered by your French house insurance policy.

Implementing the disaster Naturelle clause in French home insurance plans is governed by certain laws.

Not all big weather events are natural disasters. If they are, your insurance policy will specify the terms under which you are covered for the storm, floods, or other comparable damage.

The applicable clause for a natural disaster in your contract is only activated if the government issues an official declaration of catastrophe Naturelle for your commune, according to an agreement with French insurance firms dating back to the 1980s.

Normally, a decision about a natural disaster caused by severe flooding (inondation) is clear. Indeed, the magnitude of the storms that hit much of France in 1999 was such that the government thought it was politically imperative to declare the entire country a “catastrophe Naturelle”!

Incidents of ground displacement caused by drought (sécheresse) are sometimes less visible, and the compensating process can be more challenging. This is due to the insurance company’s desire to ensure that the drought caused the cracks in your home and that the condition is significant enough to justify corrective treatment. There are frequent disputes concerning the scope of the necessary repair work.

Often, the earliest troubles begin with the local town hall, whose role is to start things off by requesting that the commune be labeled a natural disaster by the regional prefecture. Many municipal mayors are diligent in this work, but this is only sometimes the case, and if no application is filed, the subject is closed.

So, if you notice cracks in your property that you feel are caused by ground movement caused by a drought, notify your local Mairie so they can create a dossier.

Application Processing

Once filed with the prefecture, the application should finally make its way to Paris, where no less than a committee of Ministers will decide whether or not a declaration should be issued. The decision should generally be made within three months of the prefecture’s demand submission. Still, the procedure can take longer if the government believes that the expert investigation requires more time to finish its task.

If the government rules in favor of the insurance firms, they must pay compensation for the damage they have caused. However, it would help if you acted quickly because you only have a limited period from the date of publication of the official legal notice (arrête) from the prefecture to file a claim with your insurance provider. Send the claim by certified mail.

If they perform their job correctly, your Mairie will distribute a notice to all citizens; others may place a sign on the town hall. Once again, you must remain attentive or (especially if it is a second home) request that the Mairie tell you when word of the judgment is Property owners’ rights to make claims for natural catastrophes were significantly increased in 2022 when the new system for claims and rights was established.

Needless to add, even if you submit your claim on time, you must still convince the insurance company that there is a link between the cracks in your property and the drought and ensure you obtain adequate reimbursement for the damage. If the situation is serious, hiring your architect or engineer from the start is best since they can represent you in negotiations with the insurance company.

Some insurance policies allow clients to nominate their expert, paid for in part or full by the insurance company. However, this is usually only triggered if you disagree with the expert witness appointed by the insurer. Suppose the natural disaster happens after you filed the estimate for remedial works. In that case, the insurance company is expected to offer at least partial compensation within two months of filing the estimate of works or the declaration of the natural disaster.

Damage caused by a natural disaster will not be covered if you only have third-party insurance on your car.

Home Content Insurance In France 9

Useful Resources

Conclusion

Allianz Habitation, AXA and BNP Paribas are the best Home Content Insurance companies in France. Other great options are Covéa, Crédit Agricole, La Banque Postale and Groupama.