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Natural disaster declaration and insurance – how does it work?

When a claim arises due to a major event (hurricane, heavy floods, landslides, drought, etc.), in other words a natural disaster, the insurer pays out compensation for the damage subject to two conditions. Victims must be insured against this type of loss – they must be covered by comprehensive home insurance – and an interministerial order recognising a state of natural disaster must have been published in the Official Journal of the French Republic.

Who makes the declaration?

The request for a declaration recognising a state of natural disaster is made by the mayor of the disaster-stricken municipality who, after a file has been compiled based on complaints from affected constituents, sends the request to the Prefecture, which in turn sends it to the government departments. 

An Interministerial Commission headed by the Interior Minister assesses the intensity of the phenomenon and whether it was natural or not, and issues an advisory opinion, which is then submitted to the ministers who sign the declaration. 

If the opinion is favourable, the state of natural disaster is recognised for the municipality by an interministerial order published in the Official Journal of the French Republic. The time between the disaster occurring and the order being published varies considerably and can often be as much as one year.

What does it contain?

The order specifies the areas where and the dates when the natural disaster occurred and the damage it caused. 

The insurer is the claimant’s contact and the French government’s reinsurance company Caisse Centrale de Réassurance (CCR) covers approximately 50% of the total amount of claims by reinsuring the insurers. 

And what is the situation with insurance?

With an insurer such as Crédit Agricole Assurances, insurance coverage for natural disasters is automatically included in general insurance policies that cover fire, water damage, etc.
Policyholders are compensated for damage caused by a natural disaster once an interministerial order published in the Official Journal of the French Republic recognises the state of natural disaster for the event in question in the area where the insured property is located.

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