Thursday, October 13, 2011
Guest blog - The lowdown on French house insurance
Today's guest post is from the insurance specialists at Policy Expert:
As in the UK, if you buy a property in France – you’ll need to insure it. As a general rule, purchasing your home insurance direct from a French provider will be the most cost effective way of going about it. However, for some foreign buyers, they may feel a little unsure about buying French insurance due to the language barrier. For the most part, it works in a very similar way to insurance over here - so don’t feel too daunted by it.
If you’re looking to cover your French home, here are a few useful pointers that should be helpful:
Common ways to buy
As you’ll find in this country, there are a number of channels through which to purchase your insurance – here are 3 of the most popular. Firstly, there are the insurance agents (agents généraux/agent d’assurance) who act on behalf of a particular insurance company to sell their products to the public. You may find an agent who is local to your property, making it easy to go in and have a face-to-face chat with them about your requirements. Remember, you obviously won’t be offered a choice of providers and that the price may be more than if you went direct.
Next, you have insurance brokers (courtiers) who will normally represent a small pool of insurers – thus giving you more choice, but not usually the whole of market. They may not offer you the cheapest deal on the market but they should be able to find you the cover you need. They may work on a commission structure, so be careful you’re not being unnecessarily oversold.
Finally, there’s the Groupement des entreprises mutuelles d’assurances (GEMA) - which is a non-profit making cooperative of providers who operate without intermediaries.
Unlike in this country, it seems that the French are less likely to go direct to the insurer – but this doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Many well-known insurers such as Groupama and Aviva operate in France and you can always go straight to the source and contact them by phone or via the internet.
If you’re a fan of online comparison sites and want to go down that route – here are three French ones you could try: Empruntis.com, Assurland.com and lelynx.fr.
Much like our UK system, you’ll be asked to complete an insurance application - which is called ‘proposition d’assurance’ in France. This will be in the form of a questionnaire that’s designed to help your insurer establish the amount of risk your property poses to them. It’s absolutely crucial to be accurate and honest with your answers, or your policy may be deemed invalid should you ever need to claim. With that in mind, it may be advisable to get some translation assistance at this point if your language skills are a bit rusty.
The insurer will then provide you with written details of the premium you must pay, the cover you’re buying and any terms and conditions that apply. Again, if you only have basic French, it may be wise to seek a native speaker to run through this with you before you sign anything.
This article was written by Policy Expert who are insurance specialists, providing house insurance to homeowners in the UK. You can use their website to compare quotes and buy online.