Making sure your housing situation is settled is the most basic part of the expat journey to France, including home insurance. Between the various types, the costs, and the application process, there’s quite a bit to keep track of – but we’ve got you covered.
This guide reviews what home contents insurance (assurance habitation) is, how to choose the kind you’ll need, and the process for making a claim. For more information, check out our article, Insurance in France.
- Introduction to home contents insurance
- Types of home contents insurance in France
- Home contents insurance costs in France
- How to choose home contents insurance in France
- Applying for home contents insurance in France
- How to make a home contents insurance claim in France
- Canceling a contract or changing provider
- Holiday home insurance in France
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Introduction to home contents insurance
As with all insurance in France, the Banque de France is the official regulatory body. Generally, home contents insurance insures your possessions against a range of things, depending on the kind of insurance. These might include, among others:
- water damage
- injury to third parties in your property
Legally, if you rent an unfurnished home, you must get home contents insurance; if you own your own home, it’s not mandatory unless it is a shared building.
Types of home contents insurance in France
There are two main types of home contents insurance, explained below. Keep in mind, though, that different insurance companies may evaluate claims in different ways and may have different content in the fine print – so be sure to be an educated buyer before signing any paperwork.
Public liability insurance
Public liability, or third-party house insurance, covers a few different scenarios. These include:
- if a third party is on your property and has an accident or injury
- if someone in your family damages neighboring property accidentally or negligently.
Public liability insurance is considered quite basic because it does not cover you, your family, or your own property. It also doesn’t cover illegal activity, deliberate acts of destruction, or dangerous animals or sports.
Keep in mind that the law states that those who rent unfurnished housing must have public liability insurance covering damage to the property and to third parties.
Multi-Risk Home insurance
Multi-Risk Home (MRH) insurance is not mandatory. It is, however, the most popular form of home insurance, because it is so comprehensive. MRH covers:
- Household possessions (clothes, furniture, etc) against a range of damages, including theft, water damage, fire, natural disasters, and others
- Accidental damage to others caused by you and those you live with
- Accidental damage to the building in which you live (for renters)
Different insurance companies have different policies on what they will not cover. Some may not cover accidental damage that you cause to your own property, while some may not cover properties that are unoccupied for parts of the year. The devil’s in the details, so be sure to do your homework.
Property and contents insurance
Some insurance companies will bundle property insurance (for homeowners) and home contents insurance. If you own your property, inquire about discounts on liability, property and contents insurance that insurers may offer. You may even be able to get your car insured in the package as well.
Home insurance costs in France
Home contents insurance prices, because there is so much competition, are usually fairly reasonable. That said, it is quite difficult to predict what your fee will be; premiums vary depending on things like whether you live in a house or apartment, the number of rooms in the home, what floor you live on, and what part of the country the home is in. Generally, yearly premiums can range from €170 – €500. Most plans have deductibles, which are a sum of money that you will need to pay before insurance kicks in; some plans let you choose your deductible, so be sure to do your research.
How to choose home contents insurance in France
If you’re in the market for home insurance, here are a few questions to consider:
- Does third-party liability or MRH better suit your needs?
- How high of a deductible will you accept?
- Does the company have good reviews or has someone you trust recommended them?
- Have you reviewed the company policy on what they don’t cover?
- Is it clear what (and how long) the claims process is?
Reach out to a few different companies and get your questions answered before finalizing your decision.
Applying for home contents insurance in France
When searching for a home insurance policy, a good bet is to search through a comparison site, such as lesfurets or meilleurtaux. You’ll need to fill out an online questionnaire detailing the size of the home, its location, the contents, and structure, as well as your personal information and your history with home insurance. Once you’ve completed this, you’ll be instructed on how to proceed, what documents you’ll need, and how quickly you’ll be insured. Policies typically last a year and are automatically renewed.
How to make a home insurance claim in France
The process of making a claim will likely depend on your specific policy, so be sure to read the fine print. So, contact your insurance company directly and they will advise you about what documentation you’ll need, how to proceed, and claim timelines. Though each company will have different requirements, you should be prepared to provide:
- proof of damage
- proof of policy
- an invoice of the damaged goods
- in the case of a theft, you’ll need to have the police report showing you declared the theft.
Is there a deadline to submit a claim?
Legally, you have up to five days after the day you became aware of the incident and two days if theft was involved. In the case of a natural disaster, you have up to ten days after the publication of a government decree.
Canceling a contract or changing provider
Insurance contracts generally run for a year and, within that first year, may charge fees to change or cancel providers, depending on the company. If you’re looking to do this, you should read your contract because you can legally terminate in some, specific circumstances – like if you sell your house, your marital status changes, or if you retire. Also keep in mind that insurance automatically renews yearly; if you wouldn’t like to renew, it’s up to you to inform your provider with 2 months’ notice.
Canceling after renewal
The good news is that after your first year with an insurance company, you can terminate your contract and switch over to another company with no penalty (even if you’d renewed your contract); you just have to give thirty days’ notice and send a cancellation letter. Check with your provider to see what exactly you need to put into the letter for them to accept it.
Holiday home insurance in France
Tenants on holiday homes do not legally need to take out insurance, so most landlords will have either an MRH or other policy to provide coverage. Keep in mind, though, that there may be exclusions, and so landlords often request a large deposit against damages. If you’re looking to insure a holiday home, be sure to do your research between the various policies, clauses, and exclusions available.