Monday, May 16, 2011

French property insurance - buy locally?

One piece of advice that I regularly offer to clients and friends is to buy their French property insurance locally. Many choose to spend hours on the internet seeking a quote that will offer a few euros less but my question invariably is How do these online companies react when you come to make a claim?

In contrast I have used the local office (agent) of a French national insurance company for the ten years that I have lived in France, dealing with the same owners and staff during that time. Most questions are dealt with face to face as the office is only a few minutes from where I live and answers provided right away. The office has often arranged instant insurance cover for new buyers literally on their way to the Notaire's office to sign the final papers, and who have forgotten they need to provide proof of insurance when buying their apartment.

They have also paid out sums on account to help clients facing a claim and needing immediate financial help to finance a repair (following a broken water pipe and flooding) or to get their car back on the road after an accident. They recently sent an expert and estimate for repairs within 24 hours and advised the apartment owners that dampness in their living room wall was due to a building fault and therefore the responsibility of the building management. When a friend's car was written-off due to a breakdown, the office cancelled the insurance cover immediately and even refunded half of the current month's premium as it had occurred on the 15th.

Sometimes it pays to shop locally.