The insurance system in France is different from the UK or many other countries. This creates a legal requirement to have adequate insurance cover whilst renting a holiday property and it is also necessary for peace of mind at any time that you may be in France. This issue is not widely understood, so you may not have comme across it before. The French legislation "Loi Méhaignerie" du 06-07-1989 specifies this requirement.
Insurance is a complex subject. We give you below what we have gleaned concerning the potential problems for residents of the UK taking a holiday in France, but this is only for guidance and is not intended to replace professional advice. For those of other countries of residence, we strongly advise that you consult your insurance provider to see what applies for your country and whether you may be already covered. There are fundamental differences between the French insurance system and other countries as regards “personal liability”, so this is the issue that you need to address.
Personal liability cover relates to incidents of damage or injury that you may cause to someone else or their property. Every French resident has automatic and substantial personal liability cover from their home insurance policy, even when on holiday. As we understand it, this is not necessarily the case for UK residents, hence the inclusion of personal liability cover in travel insurance packages.
In France, in the event of damage or injury, the insurance company of the person having been subject to the damage or injury assumes that the person responsible for the accident has personal liability cover and so a claim may be made against the person responsible to cover the costs and any compensation. In the absence of personal liability cover, the person responsible is liable themselves for what could be a substantial amount.
Note that in the event of you having to cancel your holiday due to unforseen circumsatances, a comprehensive travel insurance will also usually allow you to recover the deposit or the full rental price that you have paid, so for this reason alone it is well worth the small expense.
1. A simple holiday property accident.
Your child takes a sharp object into the swimming pool and rips the plastic liner of the pool. The pool has to be closed for repair. As the damage has been caused by a third party (who should be insured), the property owners’ insurance company make a claim against you for the cost of replacing the pool liner (£4000) and the reimbursements / compensation that the owners had to make for the next 2 weeks letting whilst the pool was out of action (£1200). In the absence of personal liability cover, this simple holiday accident could therefore cost you £5200.
2. An unfortunate injury.
You are walking down the street with an umbrella and one of the points blinds someone in one eye. This person needs excellent eyesight for his job and so his insurance company make a claim against you for the permanent disability (£500,000) plus loss of career (£800,000). In the absence of personal liability cover you might end up selling your house to pay the bill.
In the past we have avoided promoting any particular travel insurance provider on our website to not be accused of “making a fuss just to sell insurance” but we get many requests to recommend a supplier so here is one suggestion below. Most travel insurance policies contain personal liability cover - just make sure that a holiday property that you rent is not excluded from the cover. This can be a specific policy for the holiday, or an annual policy. It may also be included in a banking or credit card package (but check this cover carefully, as it may not be very comprehensive), or (very rarely) it may included in home insurance.
When you arrive, the holiday property owner (or their manager/caretaker) should request to see documentary proof that the members of your party have the necessary Personal Liability cover. The documents can also be requested by email before your arrival. Note that this is not a whim or preference on their part, it is a statutory requirement in French law.
This should be provided for ALL members of the group who are to reside in the property.
Whatever the insurance supplier, they should be able to provide a summary of the cover. Some companies attempt to be as "occult" as possible (if you don't know what you're covered for you are less likely to make a claim ). This seems to be particularly true in the case of insurance included in banking services.
The documentary evidence of the cover that you need to provide should include the following:
The contact details, name, address, of the company providing the insurance.
The policy number or reference number that identifies you with them.
The names of those covered by the policy, and/or the extent of family members that are covered by the policy.
An extract from the policy summary or terms which shows that personal liability cover is included in the policy.
You can delete any information that you consider to be of a private nature.
The arrival instructions that you will receive have the owners' contact details, including an e-mail address. For simplicity, you can therefore send your insurance details to the owner beforehand:
- scanned documents by email, or
- electronic documents received from Internet, or
- photocopies sent by post (If you have a substantial booklet, just photocopy the relevant pages).
Please ensure that these details do show the necessary information (or for an electronic version, a link to the terms of the cover).
NOTE : If you are contacted by the owner beforehand for arranging the Security Deposit by Swikly, you can take this opportunity to provide the insurance details at the same time by email.
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