Do handymen need insurance?

Has anyone got experience of handyman insurance. Legal requirements. Please

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Hello Julie

I would say that anyone who undertakes work for others… should be insured…

I suggest you contact Fabien Pelisier @fabien for information/details

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@Julie2, do you mean public liability insurance?

I’m not sure. We have public liability with our bank as part of our Assurance Habitation. Do we need anything extra.

Public Liability is for everyday living… not for a “working” situation.

@fabien will put you on the correct path.

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How do I contact him

click on the link @fabien


Purely as a guide Julie we pay roughly 500E p.a. for our public liability insurance covering our business (gardening, property management and repairs etc), this gives us cover of 1 million euros for any one event.


Hi @Julie2,
Anyone that charges for his/her services and is doing a job in regard to construction (that even include painters, gardeners, etc.) has to be insured in France, this is mandatory.

Here’s an extract of the law (full context available on the official website for French laws):

Tout constructeur (entrepreneur, promoteur immobilier, lotisseur, maître d’œuvre, architecte, technicien, bureau d’étude, ingénieur-conseil) impliqué dans la construction d’un ouvrage neuf ou existant, ou tout prestataire lié au maître d’ouvrage par un contrat de louage d’ouvrage, est soumis à un régime de responsabilité décennale.

This is a serious matter in France and failure to comply with the article L 243-3 of the “code de la construction et de l’habitation” is severely punished (one-year jail time and a 75.000 € fine).

Unlike in the UK, a builder shouldn’t be a jack of all trades (except if he/she wants to be paying a huge premium) as we’ll be required to prove past experience per activity and the premium will be calculated per activity as well (the more the higher).

There are only 2 exemptions to that mandatory insurance, this is either the self-construction and the “homme toute main” (which is basically a handyman). The “homme tout main” should not be charging for a service but for his/her time instead - and in that case, a simple public liability is required. I’d like to add that the “homme toute main” status should be dealt with very cautiously, it’s definitely the “don’t go to jail and avoid the 10 years insurance” free card but then you should be very cautious with the invoicing and the context of the jobs:

  • Never accept a job on a construction site for example
  • Never invoice for a building project
  • Instead, only invoice for your time without any specific mention AND never charge for construction materials.

Hope that comment will be helpful,


Hi @tim17, this is for a “simple” public liability and not a 10 years warranty. If ones need (in the compulsory sense of the word) a 10 years warranty then we are talking about something different (usually within 900e to 1200e depending on the kind of jobs done). In your case, it depends on the exact situation, if you invoicing directly for a repair you should have a Décennale, if you are just invoicing your services and have your customer pay the builders directly then you don’t need to have the Décennale.

As for the gardening, it depends on the kind of jobs invoiced as well. If you are invoicing for a sprinkler installation for example, you should have a Décennale, if you’re just cutting grass or taking care of the flowers it’s not mandatory. It also depends on the label on the invoice, if you are only invoicing for a service (like general maintenance x number of hours) then you’re probably good to go, if you invoice for a specific activity (like changing sprinklers or digging up a hole) then you’ll be automatically under the Décennale obligation.

Just for information, if one should be insured, one can only get “caught” by law enforcement in case of a customer’s complaint, routine control by law enforcement on a construction site or a control by any French legal services (URSSAF, Trésor Public, etc.).

Finally in regard to the amount covered it usually depends on the kind of event, the maximum being for corporal damages consecutive to a specific action, all the way down to immaterial damage non consecutive by an unknown source.

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Our policy was tailormade by our insurers based on the work we do which is primarily general gardening, house cleaning, pool cleaning and minor repairs such as touching up paintwork, re-fitting door handles etc. The amount of cover I quoted was taken straight off the policy schedule and in the words of the insurance agent ‘is just in case the worst happens’.

Thanks Fabien. My partner did some work for an English family. They got their son to sign the divvy.( He had now gone back to England and dissapeared). Their daughter opened and closed the house everyday quite happily and was very happy with his progress. We told them we did not have Decennale insurance. They provided all of the materials. The work was mainly removing damp and rotten plasterboard and rubbish removal. He put together a flat packed staircase for them and did lots of running about. They asked him to reinforce some upstairs beams and put some flooring down. He said he couldn’t do the beans because he can’t lift as he has a titanium shoulder, wrist and knee. They asked us to get someone to do the beams . They were very happy when the work was finish ed but then didn’t turn up to pay stating they were in England. But we found out they had moved straight into the house. When we visited to try and resolve they became very aggressive. We have not been paid a penny. They are refusing on the grounds that they did not sign a divvy and that my partner was not registered to do the work. We gave them a copy of his SERET details and registration before he started and a copy of his liability insurance. We recently received a letter from a solicitor asking for our insurance details. I’m worried sick although we did nothing wrong

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You’re insurers probably did a great job but I was mostly specifying the context of the Décennale. I’ve seen the case countless times where the customer described the work in his words and the insurer ensured that but then a control happens and it turns out some invoices are labelled in a way that it would have required a Décennale. The insurer cannot know about that (in good faith) and you might as well be doing everything properly but the way you write the invoice can change everything so I’m merely specifying that to make sure you don’t get caught up off guard :wink:

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To be honest the Decennale issue is very difficult as I’m sure some work we do should be covered under a Decennale, for example I recently had to re-fit a few slipped tiles on a roof which was leaking.

Indeed but that’s important to acknowledge what is it we want or are trying to do. If you were doing that for yourself, the Décennale wouldn’t be mandatory (nice to have but not compulsory). The most important part is to understand if it’s compulsory or not. In your examples (tiles replacement) it is mandatory if you charged for that service labelling that in an explicit way (basically if your invoice mention roof repairs or something like that). If you only charge for your services as a handyman (homme toute main) and it turns out your employer sends you on a roof for some repairs (and you don’t charge for the materials either) then the Décennale isn’t mandatory (although there is also the issue of the responsibility in case an accident happens… but that’s another story :wink: ).


I’ve used hommes toutes mains (French) on a couple of occasions and both times they knew exactly what they were allowed to do and what they weren’t. I never tried to send one onto a roof but I’m sure they wouldn’t have gone.
As I have always understood it, that’s the logic why a handyman isn’t obliged to have insurance - not because he’s registered as a handyman, but because as a handyman he is not allowed to do work that requires insurance. That’s how it was explained to me by the handymen I used.

So the questions are, as you say - what work exactly was done and what does it say on the invoice. Also, was the devis updated each time new work was taken on.

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To whom do you apply to get a “homme toute main” certificate.

Could you be a little clearer about exactly what certificate you’re after, John?
Who is it from, who is it for and what do you want it to certify?

Hi Anne,
I have dual UK/German citizenship and am registered in Germany as a self-employed decorator and have all the necessary German papers. But I want to travel around France for about a year and earn a small amount of money as I go, I have been advised that the simplest way to do this would be to work as a “homme toute main”, also I don’t have an address in France.