What you have to declare in order to be covered and what is excluded
An all risks (multirisques) insurance policy will cover, not only your public liability, but your home, personal belongings, and those of your household.
The risks covered will include those of fire, explosion, theft and flooding, leaks, storms, snow, vandalism, broken glazing, natural disasters and acts of terrorism.
As with responsibilité civile the insurance policy will also cover your actions in daily life, but not those in a car, plane, or on a boat, for which specific insurance is required.
Some policies include insurance for sports participation, school trips, employment or business activity and holidays, but you need to ask.
1. Accidental Damage to Possessions
Most policies will not cover accidental damage (breakage) to your own possessions caused by you or a member of your household, although damage resulting from accidental fire or water leakage caused by you/your household will be covered. If you want the policy to cover accidents to yourself or member of your household as a result of your own actions you need cover for ‘accidents de la vie’.
2. Empty Property
If the property is empty for part of the year then you need to make this clear to your insurer, as there may well be implications on the level of risk cover they are prepared to offer, particularly in relation to insurance against theft. There are likely to be specific requirements in relation to security of the property, which may also apply more generally in the policy in relation to claims resulting from burglary.
3. Other Buildings
If you have a number of different buildings on the property then you need to be clear about their inclusion (or not) in the contract. You will normally need to specify that you also require cover for sheds, barns and other buildings not annexed to the main property. If these buildings are not locked, then you may be unable to insure the contents. Similarly, there may be limits on the value of effects the insurer is prepared to cover in those buildings.
4. Business Use
If you have tools, equipment and other effects on the property that you use in your business, they may not be automatically covered by the household policy. You may need to take out separate professional insurance.
5. Holiday Lettings
If you let your house out for holiday periods you should ensure your policy covers temporary letting of the property.
6. Insurance Valuation
In the event of a claim household effects are normally guaranteed for their actual value at the time of the claim. In the absence of anything more precise insurers will take the original purchase price and make a percentage deduction for each year of ownership. Thus, a washing machine may be discounted by 10% for each year you have owned it.
Some policies offer new for old (valeur à neuf), thereby enabling you to buy a replacement item from the proceeds of the insurance claim. However, do not assume that this would enable you to replace a 10-year-old television with the latest 40cm plasma!
In addition, if the insurer considers that the original purchase price of the item to be in excess of that normally paid in the market, a percentage reduction will be applied to the base figure.
Insurers may also apply an age limit on new for old items, so that, for instance, it may not apply to a refrigerator that is more than five years old.
In case of a burglary, you are always asked to provide proof of existence of the items stolen and also proof of their value. Without those documents, your indemnity will be highly reduced. This applies to your general contents but also to your valuables declared in the policy.
7. Legal Costs
Finally, many policies also offer cover for legal costs (protection juridique) involved in defending, or making a claim. This additional cover is normally available at little cost, but it is always an option that you need to take out.