The French, in all major areas of life, are advocates for insurance so as to maintain a sense of security and protection. In line with this, residents including expats in France are required to obtain certain insurance policies such as healthcare insurance (both the public health insurance and a complementary private health insurance), home insurance (required for both long-term rental properties and properties owned) and civil liability insurance. There are several other types of insurance that may be required depending on your specific status such as vehicle insurance (if you own or use a vehicle in France) or insurance for school children and other insurances for self-employed expats in France.
The details of each of these insurances need to be understood as there are many different insurance policy providers who offer packages covering one or more of these required insurances. These insurance packages may be quite comprehensive thus requiring some level of expertise in determining the ideal policy for each individual. Some of the insurance companies may be able o provide some guidance to expats in France and it is also possible for expats to get advice from relocation specialists or local agents with regards to the details of these insurance policies.
Details of home insurance for expats in France
Home insurance in France is a prerequisite for all residents, as all properties must be insured by the occupant be it a long-term rental property or a new purchase of a property for sale in France. It is possible to obtain only an insurance that covers damage to third parties as well as the property in terms of public liability insurance (risques locatifs) when living in an unfurnished property.
According to the French laws, children below the age of 18 are the responsibility of their parents and as such if their actions cause damage to others, a civil case can be made against the parents which would be covered by the public liability insurance. However, this public liability insurance provides no cover for the insured, their family or their family. It also does not cover damage or injury sustained in line with any employment or while the insured is sailing a boat, driving a vehicle or even flying a plane. The public liability insurance also does not allow for claims made on accidents caused by dangerous sports or animals and any deliberate or illegal action.
It is advisable to take out a more comprehensive home insurance policy (multi-risques d’habitation) which covers all possible risks associated with the property, individuals and personal belongings within the property. These comprehensive home insurance policies provide cover in case of damage caused by fire or water and also loss due to theft and vandalism. They also include the public liability insurance which offers protection for the expat in France if there is a damage to the residence of a third party due to accidents in the home of the insured. An example is the cover provided in a case where a leakage from the insured property spills over to another property usually that of a neighbour or where the other resident is hurt or suffers certain types of losses, the comprehensive home insurance policy would provide cover for such damage. The home insurance for expats in France also offers recompense for damage caused by natural disasters or catastrophes such as flooding or forest fires.
How to get a home insurance for expats in France
The process involved in obtaining a home insurance as an expat in France is relatively easy as there are many insurance companies and banks offering comprehensive home insurance policies. It is important to know the number of rooms and the size of each of the rooms (in square meters) before requesting such insurance policies as these are standard questions which help the home insurance provider to identify the appropriate policy and related costs. Some home insurance providers may request a visit to the property before approving the insurance but this is only occurs in rare cases. There is no need to know the value of the property building as this is not a prerequisite for the home insurance. However, a knowledge of the general value of the contents and personal belongings within the property may come in handy to get adequate insurance cover.
Expats in France would need to read and understand the terms and conditions associated with the home insurance policy especially as there may be some very specific terms depending on the value of the personal belongings in the property. For instance, an insurer can indicate that although fire alarms are not required in the French law, a specific policy would only be paid out if there is a fire alarm when there is such a fire accident. Similarly, the insurer can state that a claim can be made on certain cases of theft only if an alarm is used in the property and the shutters are closed at night or when the insured is away for a long period. There are also important notices with regards to the general obligations of the insured to protect the property which are easier to identify by an industry or home relocation expert who has the expertise required to guide the decision of the expat in France when choosing a home insurance policy.
Major home insurance providers have fairly standard policies which may differ slightly in fees or charges and some policy providers may give certain discounts to expats in France who obtain two or more insurance policies from them such as a joint home and vehicle insurance. Expats in France would do well to obtain an adequate and suitable home insurance policy to cover either a property owned by the expat or a long-term rental property in France.