Need help with your Insurances? Ask Maartje!
My name is Maartje Schlepers (Dutch) and I have lived in the Lot since April 2014. Before that I lived for nearly 10 years in Burgundy where since 2005 I worked for a small independent Insurance Agency in the town of Beaune, well known for its Burgundy wines and hospices.
Since starting at Assurances Benoit, I helped international clients (mostly British, Dutch, Irish, Belgian and American). Initially with the basic insurances required when buying a property in France either as second home or the more extensive needs of new residents.
We offer both private clients and professions a full service, ensuring that they understand their policies completely. We even have application forms in English and Dutch to help us provide a better and more accurate service.
After 10 years my partner and I decided to move to the Lot, as we’d fallen in love with the region during many camping holidays. My employers agreed to set up a secondary agency in a self-built shepherds hut, equipped with all office facilities and in the garden of my home in Pontcirq. From this lovely space I continue to help our international clients on a full-time basis together with my Dutch colleague, Babice de Roon, who remains in Burgundy.
Being a ‘foreigner’ myself, I understand the difficulties that many people encounter in France with administrative issues such as insurance.
I hope to cover some of the common questions and queries relating to insurance in future editions of this magazine but if you have insurance related questions or if you are looking for a quote, please feel free to contact me.
Questions for Maartje
1. We have heard that if we do not use a chimney sweep to clean our wood-burning stove chimney then our household is not covered by insurance for fire. Is this true? Does this vary with different insurers? What happens if I sweep my own chimney?
Many insurers have become stricter over the past years with regards to safety measures. Today most insurers oblige their clients to have the chimney swept once or twice a year by a certified chimney sweeper. This needs to be done at least once during the heating season. The chimney sweeper will give you a receipt. In the event of a fire claim on your house insurance, it is possible that the insurance expert that comes to look at the damage asks for this certificate. If you cannot show any justification that the chimney sweeper has done the job this may lead to the application of a penalty or no reimbursement at all if the expert finds the fire was caused by lack of maintenance of the chimney. We recommend our clients to send us a copy of the receipt provided by the chimney sweeper that we keep on file. This also protects you in the event of a total destruction of the house caused by a fire in the chimney and when the receipt may have gone to ashes.
The application of safety measures does vary with different insurance companies. If you clean the chimney yourself I recommend to check with your agent if the company accepts this and if they do, to ask for confirmation in writing or a referral to the general conditions that stipulate this. Because if the company is not happy with this, it might lead to problems and penalties in the event of a claim. In the worst case scenario this could lead to the refusal of coverage.
2. I have my family coming to stay at Christmas and they want to drive my car. Do I need to advise my insurers of the extra drivers and let them have copies of their driving licences? What happens if one of my nephews has some convictions on his UK driving licence?
In France, insurance companies generally insure the vehicle (contrary to the UK where I believe most companies insure the vehicle and driver). In France it is the opposite: most French insurance companies cover the vehicle and allow any driver to use the vehicle provided that the driver has a valid license and that the owner of the car has given his or her permission. However, many insurance companies apply an additional excess for young drivers. The definition of a young driver (Generali Assurances) is someone who has held his or her driving license for less than three years. The expression ‘young driver’ is therefore not necessarily related to the age of a person. The additional excess can be up to 1500 euro or more and applies if a ‘young driver’ is responsible in an accident. Even if many companies ‘generally’ allow any driver (with permission and a valid license) I recommend to check this in your policy or with your local agent. Some companies offer a ‘conduite exclusive’ which means that only the named driver is allowed to drive the car. The premium on this type of policy is often a little cheaper because the insurance company considers the risk to be lower with only one driver.
If your policy allows any driver there is normally no need to inform your agent. If the driver has convictions on his or her driving license this should not be a problem for as long as the license is still fully valid.
Maartje Schlepers, Assurances Benoit, La Plégade, 46150 Pontcirq, Tel Office 0972468223 (Mon to Thurs) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Orias 07005354 - 15005887