Buying/ Living in France
you are going to use your property in France as a holiday hideaway or
let it for investment income, it is essential that you arrange suitable
insurance cover. Most insurers see bigger risks associated with holiday
homes because they are often left unoccupied for long periods, prone to
burglary and weather damage, therefore finding suitable insurance can be
do you arrange cover with a local broker or a UK based insurer? When exchanging contracts your French agent or notaire will need proof
that you have suitable insurance, or they may recommend a French
Insurer. Before you choose a foreign policy it is important that you
read the small print so you understand the scope and restrictions of
cover. Unless you are fluent in French this can be a problem.
may find that policies offered by French/European insurers are cheaper,
however cover tends to be much more limited than UK policies, so a
saving of £50 could prove costly in the event of a claim. You may be
better off choosing a comprehensive policy in the UK that’s written in
plain English and specifically designed for French holiday homes.
cover do you need for your holiday home in France?
insurance should cover the actual structure of your French house,
outbuildings, garages, swimming pools, walls, gates and fences. These
tend to be covered against the cost of repairs or rebuilding, debris
removal and professional fees following loss or damage caused by
earthquake, fire, storm, flood and burst pipes. Building insurance
should also cover permanent fixtures and fittings within the buildings,
such as fitted kitchens and bathrooms. Some French policies may exclude
swimming pools and outbuildings from the buildings cover so check.
much should you insure for? Most people think they should insure for the
current market value of their house in France. This is wrong, the sum
insured needs to cover the cost of rebuilding the property. The rebuild
value is the full cost of reconstruction of the building in its present form. This amount must include all outbuildings, barns, domestic
oil & gas pipes, domestic oil fuel tanks, swimming pools, tennis
courts, drives, patios, terraces, walls, gates and fences.
the rebuilding cost of French property can be difficult, especially if
you have bought an old cottage or farmhouse. You might find the
rebuilding cost of such a property is more than the actual market value.
To calculate the rebuild value of your holiday home you should ask a
local builder, or surveyor to provide an insurance valuation. Your
lawyer or vendor may also be able to advise you on the rebuild cost.
Alternatively if you had a survey report done on the property, there may
be a rebuild figure listed for insurance purposes.
is important to get this figure right because if you underinsure you may
not get the full amount you were expecting in the event of an insurance
claim. Most insurers will automatically index link, which means the sum
insured will be adjusted yearly to take into account changes in
insurance covers everything you would take with you if you moved home.
This typically includes general contents within the home such as
furniture, furnishings and electrical equipment. Most policies cover
your contents in the event of fire, storm, flood and theft.
calculate the contents sum insured you should work out how much it would
cost to replace your contents on a new for old basis at today's prices.
It is important that you get this figure right and don't undervalue your
contents, as in the event of an insurance claim you may not get the full
amount you were expecting.
house insurance policies do not usually cover personal valuables as most
properties are often left unoccupied for long periods or commercially
let. If you take valuables to your holiday home you should insure them
under the all-risks section of your main household policy or travel
you protected if you let the property to someone who breaks a chair or
microwave? If you are going to use your French home for holiday letting choose a
policy that covers accidental damage to contents. Guests often aren't as
careful as you and accidents do happen.
is very important that you choose a policy that includes public
liability insurance, especially if you are planning to let your holiday
home. These are litigious times and liability insurance will cover you
for legal costs and expenses following death, injury or damage to a
third party on or near your property. For complete peace of mind a
minimum indemnity of £2m is recommended.
if you aren't planning to holiday let your property in France, it is
still advisable to get suitable liability cover. What would happen if
you let a friend use your holiday home and they slip in the shower,
break a leg and have time off work. Maybe they would have to take legal
action against you?
you have a swimming pool ensure that in the event of an accident you are
covered under your public liability insurance. You should also check the
insurers requirements regarding the French pool safety law because you
may discover that unless your swimming pool is properly gated, some
insurers may invalidate your cover.
when holiday letting loss of rent and alternative accommodation
you plan to commercially let your house in France it is important that
you choose a policy that allows you to. Some insurers only cover use by
friends and family as letting can increase the risk of a claim.
of the biggest worries when holiday letting is if an unforeseen incident
results in your property becoming uninhabitable as a result of, say, a
burst pipe or a fire. During the peak holiday season such a disaster
could mean thousands of pounds in lost income and a huge inconvenience.
Choose a policy that will allow you to claim for the loss of rental
income and pay for alternative accommodation for you and your holiday
premiums include local taxes?
are required to collect insurance taxes on behalf of the Government, so
check that any taxes are included in the final price of the premium,
including the levy for “Natural Catastrophe” cover.
French insurance code directs if a Ministerial decree is issued
certifying that a natural catastrophe has occurred, your Insurer is
required to indemnify you for any damage you have sustained.
addition to the premium the following charges are made to premiums
charged for French properties:
are the policy conditions?
insurance policies for French holiday lets and second homes have
conditions in the small print that must be followed. It is important you
read and understand the policy wording before you buy the insurance to
be sure the cover is right for you. Hopefully this will prevent any
complications in the event of a claim.
there a clause that excludes cover if the house is uninhabited for more
than 30 consecutive days, or when let to non-family?
will find that most policies exclude cover if the property is unoccupied
for more than 30 consecutive days, the property must be visited every
week, and on special locks, shutters being installed. Some insurers also
insist the water system must be drained when left unoccupied, and the
property is heated constantly to a certain minimum temperature. Would
you be insured if your electric heating failed due to a power cut and a
burst pipe occurred?
your French property is hundreds of miles away such requirements can be
a great inconvenience so try to choose a policy that does not have these
a claim and language problems
last thing to bear in mind is what happens when you need to make a
exactly what a policy covers in the event of a claim can be a challenge,
even in English. If you choose a policy written in French, have the
document properly translated so you understand what you are getting. You
may be better off buying a policy in the UK that’s written in plain
English and claims are resolved by a UK-based experts.
the terms of a UK policy, if you are a UK resident, UK law applies so
you don’t have to worry about complications regarding French laws. You
will also enjoy greater protection if the insurer is regulated by the
Financial Services Authority.
a key with trusted neighbours who can check your property frequently, to
reduce the risk of theft and damage
Beware of freezing pipes in the winter months. Leaving the heating on (thermostatically controlled) can minimise potential danger and water damage.