Insuring your home against forest fires

Between the drought and malicious acts, the outbreaks of fire in nature are increasing. Follow our advice to choose the right home fire insurance and cover yourself against the risk of fire outdoors.

Home and fire insurance: we take stock

A fire can be due to an electrical fault, improper use of a household appliance, negligence (a candle left lit in a room, for example) or even a forest fire.

Insurance contracts cover both the risks of domestic fire and outdoor fires, always according to strict conditions indicated in your insurance contract.

Civil liability insurance (RC) is compulsory for tenants, co-owners and co-ownership trustees. It covers damage caused to neighbours, third parties or its owner during an accident occurring in the home. It includes in particular the Fire guarantee.

Multi-risk home insurance (AMH) is the formula that covers the insured as well as his property and that of third parties in the event of fire or explosion. It is strongly recommended to best protect your property when you are the owner.

Insurers compensate Fire claims, depending on the level of cover chosen by each tenant or owner. This covers housing, an amount for your real estate (declared when you subscribe, and possibly updated if necessary during the contract), sometimes your outdoor facilities (such as fences or your plantations). Forest fires are among the situations covered by comprehensive home insurance, as are accidental garden fires.

Take the time to look into the general and specific conditions of your multi-risk home contract. There are certain exclusions of guarantees, in particular when the maintenance of the garden is not carried out. In your guarantees, also examine the deductibles that apply.

Many insurance companies offer an assistance service in the event of fire, lightning or explosion. Look carefully at what this assistance covers.

Good to know: only tenants are required to take out fire cover. If you are the owner and you do not insure your house or apartment, you will have to bear all the damage caused to your home, and damage to third parties if the fire started in your home or on your ground.

How to limit the risk of forest fires at home?

Clearing your land is the main precaution to limit the risk of a forest fire spreading:

Take note of the Risk Prevention Plan to know precisely the measures to be adopted on your land according to the area of ​​establishment.

Thus the clearing must be carried out so that the access roads are cleared over a width of 10 meters in particular. You must also clear at least 50 meters around your house.

Regular pruning of your trees also helps to protect you in the event of a forest fire. No branch should be positioned above your roof.

Take all your green waste (dead branches, etc.) that could kiss each other in the event of a fire to the recycling center closest to your home.

Never store flammable materials near your home.

If your home is in a dry area, you must mow the lawn and water it (unless watering is restricted by the Prefecture).

A forest fire breaks out near your home: what attitude to adopt?

If you have time:

Close all openings and caulk them (doors, windows, chimneys, etc.),

Water your facades and the earth around the house,

Open your gate and clear access as much as possible to facilitate the intervention of firefighters,

Shut off the gas supply and submerge your gas cylinders in your bathtub or swimming pool if you have them.

Then, leave the premises as quickly as possible and follow the advice of the police and firefighters.

Damage following a forest fire: the steps to be compensated

Whatever the origin of the forest fire, it is up to you as a tenant or owner of a dwelling to notify your insurer of the loss. You must make your declaration within 5 working days following the incident.

Good to know: a forest fire is never considered a natural disaster. No need to wait for a possible prefectural decree of natural disaster to make your declaration of loss on your accommodation.

Depending on the amount of the estimated damage, your insurance may appoint an expert. His role ? Note and draw up the list of damage, the amount of which he will assess.

This expertise will allow the insurance to make you a compensation proposal adapted to the claim. It will take into account the guaranteed coverage in your contract, any deductibles and warranty exclusions.

What information should you provide to your insurer after a forest fire?

As with any claim on your home, you must send your insurer:

Your identity and contact details,

The number of your insurance contract,

The elements describing the incident: nature, date, time, place,

The precise list of material or bodily damage,

The condition of the furniture and objects in your home affected by the fire,

The contact details of the third parties affected by the fire (if the origin of the fire is on your plot).

As soon as you have it, send a copy of the fire report from the fire department. As far as possible, also send the insurance company copies of invoices, warranty cards and photos of the objects, furniture and household appliances destroyed or damaged by the forest fire.

Our advice: dematerialize all your invoices, proofs of purchase, warranty cards and store them in the Cloud. If your house is totally destroyed by the flames, you will at least have these copies of your documents saved online.

What compensation after a forest fire that affects your home?

It is the expert mandated by the insurance who will assess the damage and the amount of compensation. Depending on the guarantees of your contract, you will be reimbursed:

in value of use, that is to say by applying a coefficient of dilapidation per year, thus lowering the reimbursable value.

or at replacement value. In this case, the purchase price is taken into account regardless of the age of your personal property, but the insurance premium will therefore be higher to cover this risk.

Good to know: is liability for the claim complex to establish? To avoid delaying the care of the victims, the insurance companies have signed an agreement between them which provides for compensation rules. This is the IRSI agreement, Compensation and recourse for building claims. It applies to water and fire damage claims for which damage compensation does not exceed €5,000.

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