Burst water tank - Insurance claim.......I hope

Yesterday received the devastating news that our property in Normandy is flooded, looks like the hot water tank in the Gite attached to the house leaked its contents whilst still trying to fill up for several days, bringing down ceilings and god knows what else, then spreading into the main house, leaving downstairs rooms under several inches of water, lesson learned always turn off water.
Glad we’re not there to see the mess would have been if it wasn’t for the latest Covid travel restrictions.
Luckily friends called in to check and found the disaster zone, are French house insurance policies normally OK? I guess they’ll wriggle if they can, but an initial call to them seemed OK, policy excess 250 euro plus water tank replacement excluded from my policy. Assessor to visit next week.
Any guidance / advice is appreciate, thanks.

Preparations for winter were discussed in the thread currently running about insurance costs changing when a property changes from secondary to primary residence etc.

It was mentioned some policies state that electricity should be disconnected or water systems drained etc if a property is being left more than x days in winter, IIRC.

Each policy is different and with a bit of luck you’ll have no problem but a squizz at the detail of your policy wording could be useful preparation.


Sorry to hear about the water damage, it can be horrendous. We had a claim for water damage shortly after we first arrived (fortunately only a days worth of water but it was devastating). The insurance company will send an “expert”, but from my experience it was like they were paying the claim out of their own pockets. Be prepared to itemise and value everything damaged, and get quotes for any remedial work (and haggle).

Maybe this is a good enough (compelling) reason to be able to visit your property, ita a big ask for friends otherwise. Good luck!

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I’ve had three flooding experiences over the years, but none of them were in France. After a rough bout with the Insurance company’s loss adjuster for the first one, on the advice of a quantity surveyor friend, I hired my own loss assessor for the other two. They were much less painful experiences than the first time around because the insurance company doesn’t try to pull any tricks with the professional. The insurance companies even ended up paying for my assessor too as part of the settlement.

I don’t know if one can do the same in France Grumpy, but if so I would. Even if you pay the fees yourself. Insurance companies can be difficult and throw in the potential for language confusion, special terms etc.


French insurance policies are good, if what has happened is fully covered…. Might be time to dig it out and read the small print. Presumably insured as a second home, and clear to the insurers that it will be empty for significant periods? And no clauses about electricity and water being off if empty for more than 24 hours? And boiler installed by a qualified person? Like any insurance company in the Uk if it’ a big claim they will crawl over the details. But once they’ve done that our experience is that they get on and sort stuff.

Horrible way to start the year, so hope you can get things moving to rectify the mess.

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Firstly, big thank you to everyone all for the helpful comments. Naively I’ve been paying the policy for the last 7 years to the same insurance company, the local Leggett estate agents representative organised it for us when we purchased. I guess we’ll see where we stand when the assessor visits. Regarding the electricity / water comment to be fair the water was off but I asked for it to be left on a month back when various odd jobbers were visiting for various reasons and I knew it was our intention to be there for New Year. It’s without doubt a big ask for local friends to help out but we have no choice to be honest, we can’t bring ourselves to see any photos right now as it feels to raw.

Our experience has been just the opposite of this (Generali). We’ve had both water-damage and fire claims. We’ve found the experts (independent loss adjusters) more than fair. For example when I costed replacement goods I used the Ikea catalogue - the expert looked at each piece and in 2 cases put the claim amount UP because he thought the damaged article was better quality than the Ikea alternative. Or another example - I didn’t cost a bit of necessary repainting - the expert asked me about this and I said I had some leftover paint and would do it myself, so no cost - he insisted on putting in the claim the amount it would cost to get a professional to do it.

My advice: just be honest - my guess is you’ll find French insurance companies (actually mainly non-profit-distributing mutuals) much less penny-pinching and more supportive than British (where in our experience the loss adjusters are not independent, and see their job as minimising claims).


Thanks, reassuring to hear a good experience story about French home insurance.
Does anyone know if it would be my responsibility to source quotes from tradesmen? Assuming of course there’s no small print to void my claim.

This sort of comment is very unfair Griffin - not to me (obviously I know you of old) but to the thread originator asking simply for advice on French insurance. He needs an accurate, balanced view.
A snide implication that others’ experience is idealised or invalid in some way is not useful to anybody, is it?

@strudball has just written to me that ‘Increasingly topics which are uncontroversial are now attracting responses that have inappropriate levels of bile and confrontation’. What’s going on with SurviveFrance now?

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Of course it was snide Griffin. You could simply have said (as I did) ‘that’s not my experience’, then recounted, helpfully, exactly what your experience has been.
That would have added something. Indeed, why not do that now? What insurance claims have you made, and how were they dealt with?

I want to hear about your experience of insurance claims Griffin.

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It really depends on the insurance company. With one claim we had (water damage from burst pipe) the company sorted everything - sometimes this is much cheaper for them as they have arrangements with trade companies. We weren’t ecstatic about the quality of the work, so with a subsequent claim we wanted to use our own tradesman which we managed but they haggled hard on the quotes.

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Few years ago we had a visitor who was staying on holiday at our first property, he forgot to turn off the water and leave the heating on, it went down to -8C and one of the water pipes burst flooding the bathroom, the water ran down the stairs and flooded the lounge and kitchen and ran for 2 days before anyone noticed.
We had lots of problems with the loss adjusters/assessors, we quite literally had just finished the renovation a month before hand and had all the receipts for all the new white goods/ furniture/ work done, it had been a complete gut and to the bare walls and had taken a year.
The argued the toss with everything, used mostly their own contractors who we had to stop 3 times as the work was substandard and no way near the original work.
They later admitted didn’t leave the dehumidifiers in long enough which caused problems with the new plaster work, cornicing and stairs, were meant to completely replace the kitchen and tried to get away with only replacing parts of it even though units were warped, I could go on but you will get the idea.
We ended up getting in indipendant loss adjuster and sent the reports plus complaints to the head offices, who then sent someone else to deal with it after we threatened them with court action.
Eventually after 7 months we got the house back to near what we had before.
As an aside Geof, this was already written but one problem with being a stroke retard is I have to get my partner to check long posts as I have a big problem nowadays with spelling/punctuation and construction of sentences and it all ends up as one long ramble.
I will delete this part and my other posts later IF you want to do the same to keep the topic clear, it’s just so you know :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


One thing to be aware of - I have been told (by a reliable source) that on some occasions the insurance company will ask for the proof of chimney being swept (an annual event) - in one case the owner could not produce evidence of such, as a result the claim was refused as the chimney being swept annually was a condition of insurance and therefore effectively the policy was void. The claim was not a fire related claim but that was the insurance companies get out.

I’ve heard that in relation to fires, and it is a clause in many (most?) insurance policies. We put the certificate from the chimney sweep in our fire proof box….

But bit of a cheek in relation to burst pipes!

Indeed - and what if you do not bother lighting a fire, there is no legal requirement to have an unused chimney swept.

How surprising, insurance assessor is in no hurry to visit, Jan 13th is earliest.

My experience relates to dealing with LV Insurance in the UK, but it’s a current ongoing claim so may perhaps be helpful to note…

We had a small but long-running leak under the kitchen sink which went unnoticed until the plywood under the kitchen floor started to lift up! It was caused by a badly-fitted “Quooker” tap (A thing that heats water just for the sink) - there was a bend in an overflow pipe which meant the overflow got blocked and the water dribbled down the wall behind the sink and onto the floor.

Rather than wait for the insurers to send someone out, I contacted a company that specialise in repairing water damage in properties, and they came and gave a quote (around £3000), which the insurance company accepted straight away without requiring their own inspection by an assessor, or even alternate quotes. A cheque arrived from LV within a fortnight.

We’ve had their builder round today as it happens and he has removed the base of the sink unit, stripped out the damaged floor, and put in the dehumidifier and a temporary floor - reinstatement should happen in 10-12 days’ time when it’s all dried out.

So all good so far. It may be that we’ve had an easy time because it was a relatively small-scale problem, but I hope that encourages you in your dealings with your insurers! I’ve met some awkward ones in my time but LV have been great!

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On a French house??

No a house in the U.K.