Unlike floods or earthquakes, fire cannot be considered a natural disaster. On the other hand, it is a serious loss automatically covered by multi-risk home insurance. This is mandatory for tenants and optional for owners (except in a condominium). However, it is strongly recommended because it is essential to benefit from compensation in the event of a fire.
Repayment, the procedure to follow in the event of a fire
In the event of a claim, contact your insurance. This takes care of the damages related to the fire, but also those covered by an explosion, the smoke or the emergency services during their intervention.
If you live in a condominium, contact the Syndic as soon as possible. Other homes may have been affected by the fire.
Declaration of the claim to the insurer
You have five days (weekends not included) to notify your insurer of the claim. Your declaration must be made by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt. Your letter must include a certain number of elements: the number of the insurance contract, the name and address of the owner of the accommodation as well as the date of first occupation of the premises. If possible, also provide information on the causes of the fire, make an inventory and an initial estimate of the extent of the damage.
Provide evidence of damage
The second and not least step is to provide proof of damage. It will be necessary to compile a file including a detailed description of the damage. Do not throw away anything, including charred items. You will have to provide the insurance with proof of purchase or the existence of the various objects that have suffered damage. Take photos of your accommodation and collect all invoices, receipts, receipts, contracts. If it is impossible to provide all this proof, your insurer will rely on your good faith. Note, you can also draw up repair quotes before the expertise.
External elements are generally not covered by insurance. Garden sheds or swimming pools, for example, are covered by a specific guarantee.
Valuation of the damage by the expert
In all cases, your insurer will appoint a fire expert to assess the extent of the damage. He will assess the damage suffered. The fire expert takes into account three criteria to determine the amount of compensation for the property: its average lifespan, its age and its maintenance.
An expert report is drawn up. Then, the file is closed to move on to the last step, compensation.
If you ever disagree with the proposed amount, you can request a second opinion. The compensation must then be fixed within ninety days following the counter-expertise.
In the event of a dispute with your insurance, it is possible to contact the insurance mediator free of charge. Send him a letter with acknowledgment of receipt to Service Médiation Assurance, 1, rue Jules-Lefebvre, 75431 Paris Cedex 9. Your letter must include your identity, the name of your insurance company, the contract number, a photocopy of the general conditions and details of your contract, information relating to the dispute between your insurer and you, the date and nature of the claim and the date of the visit of the expert. You can also attach photocopies of correspondence between you and your insurance company, in particular the compensation proposal from your insurer. The response time of the mediator varies between 3 and 6 months. Note that your insurer is not obliged to respect the opinion of the mediator.
Repayment, deadline and deductible
After agreement, the insurer has thirty days to compensate you. To get an idea of the amount reimbursed, consult your insurance contract. A maximum amount was negotiated with your insurer when you signed your contract. The amount of the deductible is also indicated. This is the sum remaining payable by the insured. Generally, the amount of the deductible is around 200 euros.
To avoid unpleasant surprises during a fire claim compensation, it is very important to read the home insurance contract carefully before subscribing to it.
In the event of a delay in compensation, you are entitled to claim double legal interest. Provided that the delay in reimbursement is not beyond the insurer’s control (missing supporting documents, impossibility of estimating certain costs, in the event of arson or legal proceedings, etc.).
Compensation for accommodation in the event of fire
In the event of a claim, your insurer must reimburse you for the replacement value of your home. The sum corresponds to the amount necessary for the reconstruction of your new home. It’s up to you to carry out the reconstruction work or buy a new home. Otherwise, the compensation will be less, generally 80% of the new value of your house or apartment.
Reimbursement of objects and furniture in the event of a claim
After an inventory of your furniture and objects, the insurance will proceed with the compensation. Ordinary furniture and clothing are reimbursed at their real value. Works of art and valuable jewelery are generally insured at replacement value.
fire disaster, guarantee in case of uninhabitable accommodation
Most multi-risk home contracts include additional guarantees. In the event of uninhabitable housing, they bear the cost of rehousing, loss of rent as well as expert fees. Ask your insurer for more information on relocation in the event of a fire. Not all contracts are the same on this point.
Choosing the right home insurance policy
Don’t wait to be confronted with a fire disaster. Be sure to choose your multi-risk home insurance carefully in order to be as well covered as possible in the event of a problem. Between two contracts, always compare the extent of the risks, the level of coverage of the goods and the amount of the deductible. Also pay close attention to the exclusions, that is to say the conditions that mean that you will not be compensated in the event of a claim.
In any case, do not take any risk by going without insurance. In the event of a fire, if you have not taken out a multi-risk home contract, you will not receive any compensation.
There are also a few rules to follow. When moving into a new home, always be aware of the laws. For example, in certain regions, outside urban areas, you have the obligation to clear the area around your accommodation within a radius of fifty meters. In the event of fire and non-compliance with these laws, your insurer will be entitled to reduce the amount of your reimbursement.
Read also: What is a home insurance claim?