Insurance cover read the small print and get help

133 Replies

I would like to post a warning to anyone who has been as stupid as myself. We all take out our house insurance etc. I know we had the insurance agent at the house and he went all over the property and anyway he knew us personally as he lived in the same village. He gave us his advice on how to insure the property, responsibility civil etc. and we took it at face value. His wasn't the cheapest quote by a long way, however, we thought we were being well looked after and decided to go with the person we knew anyway. We have paid out insurance ever since for over 10 years. We did have one claim after the big storm some years back when we had minor roof and shutter damage and it all went pretty well but it was only a pretty small amount. We had the misfortune to suffer a house fire this year which has devastated us. 15 years of restoration gone up in smoke in 35 minutes. Obviously we were pretty seriously in shock and stupor following this and were pretty grateful when the insurance turned up a few days later to "sort it out" We got all the promises. We had had a firm turn up at the house the day after the fire asking us to take them as our personal expert to protect out interests. We were assured this was normal and was included in our insurance policy and would not cost us anything so we thought why not have our own advice. Our insurance company went ballistic. They said we had no right to do this we were not in dispute with them, they would look after us and anyway we would have to pay the fees. They convinced us to cancel with the other firm and assured us all would be okay. I was quite up in the air about it all as almost everyone we met said we should have our own representation.To cut a long story short and this is what I would like to warn people. Most insurance companies include this personal expert representation in the policy although some don't so you must check. I have now been led a dance for six months. I still have holes in my windows and doors, no hot water system and cannot use about 70% of my house.I am suffering now severely from stress and things have descended to a level of me receiving threatening letters from the insurance firm. I have now taken on a firm of my own insurance experts to protect my interests. Although they say there will be problems because they were not brought in straight away this can and will be rectified. They have gonethrough the paperwork I have to date and told me I have seriously underestimated the costs even though the insurance is attempting to cut this further. They have spent an preliminary four hours with me going through and explaining clearly exactly what they do and what the policy means and what the french law states. And here is my point. They maintain that french people find it hard to understand handling sinistres and for a foreigner even one who speaks pretty fluent French it is almost undoable.Apparently it is French law that in the case of a house fire the insurance company has its Expert and the client must have his own Expert and in the case they do not agree a third Expert will be called to mediate. The insurance company are responsible in my case for their Expert and mine and should a third be required half the cost would be theirs and half mine. In bullying me into not using an Expert they have in theory broken the law and they know it.So please if you are unfortunate enough to suffer a fire in your house DO get your own Expert. Do check your policy any expert firm will tell you if you will have to pay or if it is the insurance company and do ask around - for instance I have now found there are only two agree firms in the midi pyrenees who are used by the authorities in the case of public buildings i.e. schools and this would indicate their professionalism - I hope. Don't let your insurance company make you feel you are being greedy and aggressive by doing the right thing. I just hope that this will now be sorted and I was still squirming a bit about it until I received this very nasty letter from the insurance company this morning which has done me a favour in fact as I now know I have done the right thing at last.

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tajmahal-616330 1319310974

Thank you maryjane for this very useful piece of information. I hope that for you this will be the start to a quick resolution to your situation and the speedy rebuilding of your property.

MaryJane32100-597937 1325075442

To up date our situation - we are now in the heart of winter. We still have no hot water or heating although the doors and windows are in which stops the worst of the cold.

Our insurance company are now appearing to be obstructive. Having tried to force me into a meeting in November now I have legal representation they are employing

stalling tactics making my assessor wait till just before Christmas then cancelling the eve before the meeting and setting a new date in three weeks. They are totally

unconcerned with the conditions in which we are living. I would advise anyone to take much more care than I did when choosing an insurance company. Apparently

choosing a large well known company is not enough. I now know this one has the reputation of being the worst to deal with in the event of a fire, and to boot the most

expensive to insure with. Obviously I cannot post their name on here as I can't post the name of the assessor helping me but if anyone wants to know they can email me.

Jane2010-615102 1325117123

This is very good advice.

richardandelse-600040 1325143074

Terrible story but very good of you to share this information which is shocking and beyond belief. I sincerely hope that you can sort this out asap and you have our and probably every other readers' sympanthy.

MaryJane32100-597937 1325181238

Thank you for your kind words. It has been very traumatic and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I have been amazed by how many people have contacted me privately for the details
which obviously I can't put on the forum. This has done much to lift my spirits as it really does make one feel better if one feels they can stop others being taken for the same ride.
So often I find that to get the right answer you need to know what to ask. In this case I was taken for a ride and luckily got some good advice before it was too late. Thank you all for
the kind messages and offers that have been sent.

elrio-613610 1325628076

I sympathise with your predicament, I had a similar problem with my insurance company some 6 or 7 years ago. After a prolonged spell of heavy rain my house was flooded, I managed to safeguard living and dining room furniture but, unfortunately, the kitchen suffered damage. The units warped badly and the dishwasher was beyond repair, though thankfully the gas cooker survived. I contacted the insurance company who arranged for someone to call and inspect the damage, in the UK this would be an Assessor, here in France it is an 'expert' who acts solely for the insurance company. I did not know I was meant to get my own expert and the two would eventually reach agreement on the amount payable. The insurance company made an offer, far below the cost of repairs, and even added the cost of their 'expert' thus reducing the amount even further. I asked my neighbour about this and was told that in France it is normal for both parties to use an 'expert' and mine would have argued against being charged costs!

MaryJane32100-597937 1326216613

Emergency update.

Hope I'm not boring the pants off everyone but I really want to stop these people doing bad to others. I have now just heard from my assessor. The insurance company (email me for details of name and agent if you want) have delayed meeting with him for over two months now and we are still without heating and
hot water and most of our living space. They eventually met with him this morning and refused to look at the dossier. They have said they will pay his fees to get rid of him and then I will have to take their offer or nothing. Given that their offer does not cover the cost of the previously agreed in writing devis for the
house rebuilding and only 30 per cent of our contents losses I am hopping. For instance my six month old washing machine was completely destroyed - they told me to go out and buy a new one and give them the bill - 500 euros. They have listed this cost against my contents allowance but are now refusing
to actually pay me any money whatsoever for the washing machine and on it goes. My beds had to be thrown away heavily coated in soot - they oversaw the removal - now they don't want to give me anything for them. I have a meeting with my assessor next week. He says we are off to the Tribunal its against the law
to do that without engaging a third independent assessor but whats the point if they won't look at the dossier. I might just swing for this one.

Remember, this agent who has lied to me is a personal acquaintance I have know for nearly 20 years, who is a leading figure in the local rotary club thinks himself a gentleman and prides in his reputation. Makes a habit of personally going to peoples houses to make sure they are properly insured and comfortable.
Wants the English business family business for three generations.

I have been now told that this firm is the very worst for a big claim - its okay with anything under 3,000 euros but then I wouldn't be so anxious about that. I am talking about a large house I have spent 15 years rebuilding with top work pierre apparent wood floor hand made windows and doors hand made three storey
elm staircase and its a big deal.

I am going to be researching my future insurance and I want to know it all - Please do the same to avoid my problems. We all know how hard it is to understand the small print etc in french but I really don't want to hear of someone else in my predicament with this firm.

MaryJane32100-597937 1326255714

Hi there I have only just seen your post - This is awful -but it does completely illustrates what I am trying to bring to light and unless your firm is the same as mine perhaps it is wide spread.

elrio-613610 1326281485

Hi Maryjane, I hope you are managing to make headway with your claim, we have every sympathy for you. No our insurance company was not the same one as yours, according to our French neighbours the using of 'experts' by both parties is normal procedure in France. Our insurance company finally made a derisory payment, no where near covering the cost of repairs or replacement, they even had the cheek to deduct the cost of their expert from the payment.

Phil McCracken-604480 1326283396

Thanks for pm. We have house/contents and cars insured with 'them' and will now be looking very closely at the small print. They did try to increase the premium for the cars last time around and we said that we will look elsewhere. The lady who operates the agency said we should give her the figure quoted (paid by card) and she would give us a discount in cash - It came out of her purse and I'm sure it was part of her commission. Anyway it ended up the same price as the previous year.

Thanks for the info and I'm sure we will go elsewhere for insurance in the future - just in case.

MaryJane32100-597937 1326784671

Absolutely it is and it is apparently french law. This is the crux of my problem it was my agent who arrived post haste at the house furious with me say I was in the wrong, why was I being so aggressive things would
finish badly and I would end up in court unless I agreed to cancel my arrangement with the contra expert. He told me that I could only use one if there was disagreement with the insurance company and that wouldn't
happen as I was well insured and he would look after me. We had been friends for nearly 20 years what was I doing - and I fell for it.

Update on the proceedings - I have my assessor arriving tomorrow for a conference. He is appointing an advocate. I have had to go through all the claim again which has taken days. He needed a bottom line figure
that would be acceptable to us so he has a base to work from and to talk to the advocate about. This doesn't mean he is going in to negotiate at that figure just needs to know where we all stand. I have spent hours
going through the list and by deleting all the small stuff - i.e. the contents of our cupboards in store room and kitchen that had to be thrown away due to smoke damage. The contents of bathrooms etc - clothes bleached
by the smoke damage and really trying to be realistic about the costs I have reduced the claim for the contents to our bottom line. It is still 30,000 euros more than the insurance company are offering. They have ignored
the list they made me write to include every item they inspected one by one and gave permission to get rid of - all photographed and just made a lump offer. They did make a list of a few things but for instance the washing
machine which was at the heart of the fire and only 10 months old - replaced with an identical one from the same shop. original bill produced for the burnt one and bill produced for the replacement - cost 500 euros and
they have decided not to put it on the list and so on and so on.

There is no justification for what they are doing and people need to know this company are the worst there is at doing this and make a habit of it Anything I can do to try to prevent anyone else suffering this way I will do.
I know even if I manage to stop a couple of people insuring it won't make any difference to the company but it might just make a difference to the person who chose another company.

Anyone who wants information on the firm and agent concerned is welcome to email me for details.

MR BEN-615855 1326832305

Feel really sorry for you.

We always go for the cheapest option regarding cover, not because we're mean, but due to past experience's of having been badly let down by 'so called' reputable Insurance companies/agents.

Not saying their all incompetent, but hence the expression - '99% give the rest a bad name'

Anyone that works in insurance will tell you that it's the biggest con in the world.... (at all levels)

Hope you get it all sorted soon!


maryjane-599094 1328031072

updating the saga........I have just received a message from my assessor. He has spent the last two weeks trying to get the Insurance company in question A.. to meet with him to look at my dossier. To recap I had to send in a list of everything that had been lost in the fire.
Most of these things had been seen by the insurance company assessor and agreed as ruined and I was told to clear them to the dump they have all been documented and photographed. All I got in return from said insurance company was a scant list of things with prices
they were prepared to reimburse me for. The list did not for example include the new washing machine that was at the centre of the fire that they authorised me to replace, nor did it include my hoover which was burnt except for the handle and the list goes on. They basically
offered me about 32,000 euros for losses exceeding 90,000 euros and when I said no said I could accept it or else.

That was back at the end of September. My assessor has been trying to meet with them since the beginning of November and they only met him in January when they refused flatly to even open the dossier for the losses. He has again tried to settle the claim out of court
an d they won't even talk to him. I now have no choice but to get an Advocat and go to court. In the meantime we are living in a corner of our burnt house with no heating except for an open fireplace and no hot water to the kitchen. I have outstanding debts of over 20,000 euros
for electrical work authorised by the insurance company who will now not pay the bill till I accept a low amount for the contents. This is holding to hostage - which I am told is actually a criminal offence in France. I have raided my pension fund from England in order to get enough
money over here to pay the electrician as his bill is accruing over 300 euros in interest each month that passes.

I re-iterate my advice to all to check their insurance policies and company. I am told my company has a reputation for being appalling payers in the even t of a big claim. I am well insured but they still won't pay. None of us expect to have a fire and lose huge amounts of our
homes but I would advise asking an insurance agent what happens in the event of a fire and whether you are insured for your own assessor a french law requirement. I can't believe this firm think they are going to get away with this but apparently lots of elderly people can't take
the pressure and give in and take the loss.

maryjane-599094 1328033058

just to repeat if you would like to know the insurance company concerned to make your own minds up when re-insuring please send me an email and I will supply the details
of the company and the insurance agent.

Happyfeet-616974 1328044207

Terrible what you have been through. I have PM you for the details. I wish you could post it for all to see then delete it a tad later.
Best of British getting it sorted and huge thanks for letting us all know.

maryjane-599094 1328092228

I have sent you a email with the details. Yes I agree I would like to post the details but this is not possible. However, if those who contact me for the details spread the word amongst their friends and acquaintances
we could have the effect hopefully that no-one else needs to be insured with a company that behaves like this when there are so many companies out there and there is so much evidence that this is particular to this
company. I would say that I have had close to 100 emails from people with very kind wishes and offers so if they are all spreading the word this could have an effect.

maryjane-599094 1328105654

I am happy to say we still have lots of people contacting us so hopefully the word will be getting out in the community.

I have just had a very interesting meeting with another totally unconnected agent from the same company who has confirmed
to me that I have done everything correctly. He can't believe the way the company are treating me. He told me to get my
own assessor immediately to protect myself. I told him no I have already done that so the answer was well it will all now get
sorted with very little delay.

When I told him my assessor has been trying to meet with the company concerned since November was delayed till January
only to be told the company declined to speak to him he was incredulous. My assessor has confirmed that in spite of further
advances by him the company will not even read his 'dossier'.

Its quite comforting to know that an agent for the same company confirms we are being badly treated and has confirmed it is well
known throughout the agents that the boss chap at the insurance company is a difficult b.........

maryjane-599094 1328180566

Update for the many who have emailed me and asked me to keep them informed.

I have had my contra expert on the phone this morning. He has made three more attempts to speak with the insurance company. They refuse even to meet him. He has met with the expert working for the insurance
company who has dropped the bombshell that the insurance company have fallen out with him over my claim. They still have to work with his firm but have refused to use this particular expert who has said he can't
believe the way the insurance company are treating me.

The outcome of this is that we are getting nowhere. My contra expert has now found us an advocate who specialises in this work and he is bringing her from Toulouse to meet me at my house so that I don't have to travel
to Toulouse. They are now applying to the Tribunal and although I have to shell our 5,000 euros in fees the good news is that because the insurance company have made an offer in writing albeit wildly low once the case
goes to court they have to pay us that amount to allow us to proceed with the work and then they have to defend their reasons for not paying the rest. This is good news as I can't finance the works myself.

Apparently because I am bringing the claim, when my advocate and expert go to court they will meet the courts expert and put their case and the insurance company will not be allowed to be present to argue it - the point
being they have lost the right as they have refused to meet with my expert. This all sounds good news but its going to be long and drawn out. I put it to my contra expert that in England we are very loathe to go to court
as no-one seems to win except the lawyers but apparently in France its all controlled. There are set fees for set things and thats that. They have also told me the courts already favour the individual against the company.
Fingers crossed this is correct.

They have warned me that as soon as they are served papers the insurance company will try to settle as they know they will be liable for costs but we must go to court or they will cause me trouble throughout all the rebuilding.

Happy Days. and thanks to all the best wishes you have all sent to me.

hazza_10000-597936 1328448603

The saga has taken another twist. I met a friend yesterday who asked me how my insurance problems were going. Having told her that we are now having to go to court and are engaging an advocate to represent us, she said oh do you need a recommendation, I have just met some very nice people who live in the
ham eau next to yours and he has just set himself up as an Advocat in Condom. His speciality is dealing with foreigners and the problems they have in France. This in itself bears no problem, but obviously this advocat is going to be soliciting the 'foreigners'. My friend has been invited to dinner this evening, by people
she hardly knows, she couldn't remember their names, so they are obviously inviting foreigners........... Now call me paranoid but as soon as I knew where they live I knew who it was. They have had a house here for nigh on 20 years, but have in the last five years bought the other half of that house and restored it and
are now apparently living there permanently. I met them some 14 years ago at a dinner party and they did indeed seem extremely pleasant.

My concern is, and this is the reason I am posting this here, this is the brother of the insurance agent who has treated us so badly. I have no reason or knowledge of this man's business to know whether or not he is competent and just and wouldn't dream of making a comment on that. I am concerned as, again only hearsay,
he appears to be targeting the foreigners and their legal problems here. Given the fact that the brother got me into the position I am now in by asking me to put my trust and confidence in him, and certainly has always been keen on obtaining the foreign business, I would seriously not wish to be involved with the brother.
|As I have said anyone wishing to know the details of the insurance company and people involved can email me for this information.

maryjane-599094 1328448817

sorry didn't realise I wasn't logged in the last posting was under my son's log in if you want the information please email me not him thanks

maryjane-599094 1329062687

I am now taking this extremely personally. I have attempted to calm my ire with this insurance company but this cold weather has done for me. Given we have only two radiators working to heat our part of the house which is not damaged, and
an open fire. I have resorted to gas bottle heaters which are doing the job but cost a fortune. I have found old blankets and sewn them into curtains to hang in doorways leading to the damaged part of the house to try to keep the cold out of our part.
It was minus 1 inside the damaged part of the building.

The wind that is now blowing has frozen us solid. I know everyone is cold but I am not in a fury against the insurance company. They know we are camping in this house and don't care. I had to put the new washing machine I bought in an outhouse
where we have been using it with the waste water going into the field since last May. It has now frozen solid. I have managed to defreeze the pipes but the washing machine is kaput due to freezing. If the insurance company had settled the washing
machine would be back in the house and safe. I wonder what chance I have for claiming a frozen washing machine on my insurance! Our one remaining toilet started to freeze but we managed to save it except for the fact it is now leaking and I have a big
bucket which has to b e emptied every two to three hours.

Given that we now know we are going to court I can't wait to meet with the advocate I wonder if she will tell us we have a claim for discomfort due to the fact that the house was not rebuilt because the insurance would not settle. I also know they are obliged
to rehouse one in cases like this - I rented a house for one month while they cleaned out the worst of the mess but they haven't accepted to pay the rental bill for that. Surely they should have to house us in this type of weather but it would appear that if I want
to rent I have to pay and hope they will reimburse me. On performance to date I am not hopeful.

I hope those of you who have emailed me for the name of the insurance company concerned and the agent concerned have been spreading the word. Anyone else who wants to know who to avoid with regard to insurance feel free to email me direct.

richardandelse-600040 1329079302

Hi terrible and appalling - appreciate hearing who this company is so we can avoid. Courage & thanks Richard

maryjane-599094 1329212155

Updating as I have again received many private emails from people wanting to know about this company. Anyone who wants clarifying on this is welcome to contact me by email.

maryjane-599094 1329512831

Just had a message from someone who has had a problem in their house asking whether to use a contra expert for their claim so I am posting this as obviously there are people out there who need information

maryjane-599094 1329564131

I have been contacted by two people now who have suffered flood damage presumably from frozen pipes asking whether they should get their own expert. My advice in view of the problems I have suffered is that yes you should but you need to know whether you are covered for the fees
on your policy or not. Apparently most insurances do cover the fees which means you pay nothing but I have been hold there are some policies that do not cover them. If anyone wants to get their own assessor the system is that you telephone the company. They usually have a local rep
who will call straight away, look at your policy and the damage and advise you if you are covered. If you go ahead with them you sign a paper (you have 7 days as with everything in France to cancel if you wish) and the assessor then comes to see the damage and takes the whole procedure
in hand. He will tell you what you need to provide him with, what you can expect from your insurance and handle everything for you. If anyone else wants to know the name of the assessor I am using they can contact me by email and I Will give you details. I am very pleased with the company
I am using and they have certainly taken a load off my shoulders.

maryjane-599094 1334759394

An update on our situation - We have now been to court 3 times. Each time the insurance company are stalling and asking for other paperwork each time with a two week delay. This is hardly surprising as this stalling has now been going on since October 2011. Quite a long time in your life when most of your house is not habitable.
I have just received a call from my contra expert to make sure I understood the last missive from the advocate which was good of him. Apparently the insurance company on their last delaying tactic contested the fact that they are responsible for the court cost even though this is in the policy and is standard french law. We now have to
wait two weeks for the judge to tell them to get on with it.

The most interesting thing I learnt today is that my insurance agent who has been the root cause of these problems has struck again. My contra expert has just been called to a client in the same town as me who is insured with the same agent. They however, unlike me, understood that in the event of a big sinistre they had to have their
own representation - (perhaps they had read my warning?) - The agent turned up on their doorstep with exactly the same words he used with me. Why are you engaging a contra expert this is unnecessary, I will look after you, the insurance company has your interests at heart, this is aggressive it will finish badly if you go ahead.
This was the start of my problem when I gave in to him and look where it got me. These people have apparently told him his fortune and that this is totally normal they are represented and he has trounced off in a huff.

My contra expert told me this as he said I should know that they way this man has treated me is obviously his normal behaviour and was not just for me.

I am now awaiting the third assessor to call at the house, I have spent the last three weeks obtaining evidence for every item claimed, given that much was sent to the dump on the insurance company's say so but they now don't want to pay, it is boring and exhausting work all of which would not be necessary had I used a contra expert from
the beginning.

I would enforce to everyone to check their insurance policy on their house; if you should suffer a bad sinister over 30,000 euros you need your own assessor and this is the law. Avoid the company I have used and above all the agent. I cannot name them here but if you want their details please send me an email and I will be pleased
to give you the information. My aim is to try to help anyone else and prevent this happening to others through ignorance.

My fire was 30 April and I am still living in a mess, no hot water to the kitchen, no heating and over two thirds of the house still dirty any uninhabitable.

gentiane-611050 1334763885

Hello, I have only just seen this thread and read all of it in one go I'm so sorry about the situation in which you find yourselves, it's gone on far too long. Good luck with the outcome.

I'm also writing in a pm to ask the name of the firm please so I too can spread the word:

Sent with my very best wishes for success,

maryjane-599094 1334847447

thanks for the good wishes. I have had again since reposting this thread numerous enquiries about who the insurance company are and who the agent is. I am more than happy to share this information with anyone who cares
to email me privately. The more I learn about how all this works in French law the more I realise that there is only one way, get yourself your own assessor from day 1 and he will deal with it for you. I am not saying it will be stress
free, but I am certain the insurance company will not behave in this way when they are dealing with a professional - they reserve the bad treatment for their clients.

elrio-613610 1335193536

From the beginning I have periodically logged onto your blog maryjane regarding your insurance claim. I contacted you quite early on regarding a flood I experienced some 7 years ago and my ignorance regarding the use of an 'expert'. My ignorance cost me a replacement kitchen and dish washer, a total of near on 10k euros, not including fitting. I would advise anyone with a serious claim to use an expert from the beginning, it seems to be the only way things get resolved in France. Like me maryjane seems to have found out the hard way and, due to her claim being much larger, is taking court action. Good luck maryjane you have my sympathy.

maryjane-599094 1335209419

hi there yes I remember you with your kitchen. I spoke with my contra expert and said I had been contacted by several people about claims to do with floods after the big freeze. He told me that expert companies usually only kick in when the claim
is likely to be a minimum of 30,000 euros. However, I think its always worth finding out as I know I at first thought only of the damage to the house. I had no idea how much contents end up costing to replace and then there is also the case of
if you need to be rehoused so claims inevitably add up. I can see the 30,000 euros is probably the lowest figure at which they make a profit on it. On also has to check ones insurance policy but the time to do this is when you are paying not when you
are making a claim. People should ask their agents what cover they have for a contra expert and if the agent says you don't need that then my advice would be change your insurance.

I have just finished the mega task of redoing all the paperwork as obviously I gave all the proofs etc to the insurance company now we are getting a third assessor from the courts it all has to be justified again and of course the insurance company aren't about
to return the paperwork to me.

There is a reason for using a contra expert - it means they do the paperwork for you and they know the pitfalls. In any case if you have representation they don't try it on as they know the contra expert won't stand for it. We have been well and truly had,
I have every reason to believe it will all get sorted in the end but so much heartache could have been avoided. Once again its knowing the question to ask. If you have a big claim get a contra expert.

maryjane-599094 1336175773

Just to update the sage for those who have asked. I have received today a paper from the tribunal. The insurance company have been condemned to pay me the total amount of money they have offered without delay. This means I will see it in about four weeks due to the process is has to undergo.
The tribunal have then appointed an expert judiciare who when I pay him 1500 euros will come to the house with my advisers and do his own assessment. The dossier is so huge now I understand those films where you see the lawyers going into court
with the paperwork on trolleys!

When he has deliberated he has four months to hand his findings in to the tribunal. I am hoping that it will not take this long as that would mean we can do nothing until at least September. I hope I am not being too optimistic but listening to the advocate
it would appear that things might just work out - patience might be a virtue but its mighty hard.

Jackierob-600290 1336206673

That's such good news though, and great reason for optimism. What a great example to us all NOT to give up! Well done and hope to read some more positive news soon! Fingers crossed for you!

maryjane-599094 1339031358

Well here we are over a month later with the big meeting to settle this farce once and for all on the 8th June. What do I find on my email at midnight tonight but a mail telling me that A.. The insurance company, have cancelled the meeting
at the eleventh hour as their assessor is unavailable.

We all had recorded delivery letters from the court with three weeks notice of the meeting but they decide they are not available with 24 hours notice. How can they be allowed to get away with this. I have now been asked to provide my availability
from 14th June. What does it matter I am sure they will delay again. They were ordered to pay me 67,000 euros on the 24th april by the court but I have yet to see a penny of out!!

I have spent hours and hours doing the paperwork and getting photographs printed etc and they behave like this.

I cannot for one understand why the insurance company are allowed to even attend the meeting with the court assessor as the only reason we are at this stage in the game is that they refused to even look at the dossier my assessor prepared and would
not negotiate at all.

If I could take out a national advertisement warning people to avoid this company and this agent I would for those of you who have not heard who they are please feel free to email me and I will provide their details - to be avoided at all costs.

In the meantime I have purchase a steam cleaner which has cheered me up as it is very efficient. I find the soot from the damaged part of the house continually drifts throughout the clean part of the house and it is greasy and black. The steam cleaner is a great help.
I am more than fed up with not having hot water. I think the men concerned should have their hot water cut off for over a year and see how they like it. Its no good I really think it is down to hit men! Trying to keep a cheerful outlook but its not easy.

Bungey-603054 1339056029

As we used to say in the Royal Navy - 'ILLIGITIMUS NON CARBORUNDUM' - Don't let the bastards grind you down!

OUTLAW-608148 1339057799

so a court meeting is cancelled with an out of hours email, that doesnt sound aboveboard to me !!!

Id ring the court to make sure the meeting is canceled with them, after all youve been put though Id be afraid that the insurance company were pulling a fast one, telling you they can make the meeting, then turning up with you then being the party that absconded the meeting.

Good Luck

MR BEN-615855 1339058983

They sound like cowards. Shame you can't name and shame them in public!

poss-616247 1339062195

i agree with Outlaw.
Check with the higher authority in case it's you get labelled as the non-shower.

all contact is meant to be by registered letters, emails don't count in law.

maryjane-599094 1339062716

Firstly bungey, my language wasn't quite so polite!

Outlaw - The email was sent in the afternoon, I just didn't see it till midnight. It was actually my advocate's office that sent it and I have to say I was somewhat astounded (thats putting it politely)
they would email me rather than pick up the phone. I could have not seen the email for days - not everyone checks their emails hourly. I still can't believe that the firm A.. can have the right
to say they are indisponible after we all had recorded delivery letters from the court with recipe the reception three weeks ago. They are playing games on one upmanship - I did ask my advocate
why they were doing this to me and she said because this is what they do especially with anyone of my age as they deem we will give in. The thing that gets me going is that the courts don't
pay much attention. They will read the various reports but no attention seems to be paid to the fact that the only reason we are in court is because A.. have refused to look at my assessor's dossier.

Mr Ben - They are cowards - the agent in question seeks the company of the foreigners as he speaks a bit of English and thinks they are easy prey for business. What type of coward stands in front of a retired
woman he has known for nearly 20 years, who is in a state of collapse following a fire that has destroyed 20 years of work and a large section of her life's possessions when she is on crutches having
only days before left hospital after hip replacement surgery and persuades her she does not have the right to engage an assessor to represent her. His exact words being don't you trust me to protect
and help you when we have known one another for so long have confidence in me!!!!
I truly wish I could name them all on this site but I can't. This is why I am trying to get word of mouth out there to prevent anyone else falling foul of these charlatans and I am only too happy to give details
in private emails. I did try to get the English newspaper to write about this problem of getting representation but they didn't want to know shame I would have thought they could have had one of their
'experts' write about this point in general for the good of all.

Thank you for the very many emails of good wishes I have received.

maryjane-599094 1339062965

thanks poss but this has come from my advocate - the insurance company have cancelled with the court - I can't believe they are allowed to do this at this late stage but unfortunately
they appear to be able to. The meeting was at my house - I was to endure my advocate, my assessor and his expert on furnishing etc the court assessor and then to my amazement
Axa were coming in force with the Axa boss, the agent, and their assessor and their advocate. I have the distinct impression they are trying to intimidate me in fact I know they are
as they know I am alone to face them well I am mad not intimidated but I also realise that this may well be their aim to get me so mad I will do something stupid. Well bring it on. I know
we are in the right my big worry is that the law is not too much of an ass.

maryjane-599094 1339095841

have just heard from my advocate. She has no idea why the insurance company have seen fit to cancel the rendezvous after three weeks notice barely 24 hours before said meeting.
She said they had applied to the court with a reason - not known to us - and the court had accepted the reason. It appears to be that they have said their assessor is not available in which
case they have probably done what they did before and only told him the day before. They did this when they had three weeks notice to appear in court. Their advocate appeared on their
behalf without paperwork because they had only appointed him the night before. This meant the court had to give him three weeks to read the paperwork. I don't understand why the court
doesn't say thats your hard luck. The insurance company had the paperwork and it was up to them to appoint an advocate in time. Lets face it they didn't suddenly say oh dear I wonder
where we find an advocate. They are playing with us ensuring they cause the maximum delay and the maximum distress. This in itself should convince people this firm is not the one
to be insured with.

I have had it confirmed that the money they were ordered to give me on 2nd April should have been in my bank by 5th June without any excuse - surprisingly its not there and no-one seems
to be able to tell me where it is. I was somewhat put out to learn that when the insurance company pay it goes into a government account who keep it for 21 days. - why are they earning money
from my misfortune when I have workmen here who have been waiting over six months for their money. There is something very wrong in the state - perhaps this is why we are all in such a
financial mess throughout Europe. long live bureaucracy.

I am told now I have to be patient and wait to hear what date is appointed and I have to accept it. Blood pressure at all time high just now.

maryjane-599094 1339174795

My advocate has just phoned to say they meeting has been rescheduled for 2nd July. This means we could now be waiting till November for an outcome. I remonstrated with her
and said I wanted to know why they were allowed after three weeks notice to cancel on the eve of the meeting. She said the excuse was that the expert for the insurance company
had another claim he had to settle that day. He must have taken that appointment after ours otherwise why would he have accepted our meeting three weeks ago.

I am now going back to my expert to say I want rent for a house for next winter as I have no intentions of living through another winter without heating. Pigs might fly.

maryjane-599094 1340599661

Whilst waiting for the grand meeting to hopefully "settle" whether or not I can repair my poor sad burnt house, I am wondering just how much longer my insurance company can drag this out - they certainly seem to know every stalling tactic in the book and how to implement them!
The latest happy missive I have received from them is an offer to meet with me to make legal arrangements for my funeral- are they trying to tell me something?

maryjane-599094 1341011024

I have just been contacted by my contra expert, the firm working for me, apparently they have an english family who have suffered a fire and don't know which way to turn. They asked me for permission to give these people my phone number so they could ask questions about using a support expert etc.
Obviously they are after the business, but to date I have not heard from the English family. I feel for them as if they are going through the same indecisions and trauma I suffered I would like to be able to help them realise these people are there to help them. Lets hope they get in touch. In the meantime I have
the hoards arriving on Monday next. I am feeling pretty bitter about it all as it should have been settled by now. I have a hospital treatment to undergo which I have had to put off till mid July as I can't be undergoing treatment and dealing with the insurance people at the same time so in the meantime I am in virtual constant pain
just one more little level to my fury against the insurance people. Keep your fingers crossed for me that at last I might get some reasonable outcome of all this.

Jackierob-600290 1341045428

Fingers definitely crossed for you. This is beyond the ridiculous and you deserve a favourable outcome. Good luck.

maryjane-599094 1341253290

14 months after the fire, 8 months after my assessor took over the dossier, 5 months since papers were filed at the tribunal. Today we have had the long awaited meeting of assessors and advocate at my house. The assessor from the tribunal was very business like and sympathetic however, his opening statement was
I am an architect and only competent to deal with the building side of things you will have to get another assessor to deal with the contents and this won't be before September! My assessor and advocate came armed with their own furniture expert which was a total waste of time. A.. the insurance firm are now trying to start
the whole claim over from new. We are here to deal with the items in dispute, they have already been ordered by the court to pay what they have agreed to and settle the dispute after. They want to go back to stage 1 and assess the house as it now is. Fine given that half the work has been done. The insurance boss
was rude, insulting and indeed most unpleasant. He labelled me grabbing and each time they settled I asked for more - if only. In his opinion they have paid for everything and when he was presented with a 10 page detailed list of the items claimed which he had not even offered one euro for just changed the subject.
I swear I will swing for that man yet. I would for one definitely push the globeter,globeter button to extinguish him.

I am now faced with another meeting in September to sort the contents. I am told I cannot do any more building works till they have settled the dispute over the rebuilding but I have to have the work done and billed by April 2013 or I don't get a penny. Can no-one see they are doing this on purpose.

More important at the moment is I have been told there is an English family in the 82 who have suffered a fire and have been told by this same insurance company they cannot use their own assessor. My assessor is trying to persuade them to contact me to hear what happens if you are not represented. Obviously he is not
allowed to tell me to get in touch with them but it makes me cringe to think there is a family out there possibly about to make the exact same mistake I made. If anyone knows who they are at the very least tell them about my posting I will speak to them if they get in touch but please don't risk what has happened to me
happening to you.

maryjane-599094 1343213392

The family who have suffered a fire recently and are insured with my insurance company have contacted me. They are in the throws of the awful aftermath of the fire. Just as I was they are surrounded with people they fear to be "ambulance chasers" and don't know who to put their confidence in.
I am happy to have been able to tell them I went down the same route and have advised them without any hesitation to employ the same firm of contra experts I am using but to do it now and not to wait till they are in a real state. Hopefully this will be one family who will not have to go through the
problems we have. Lets face it, its bad enough to have a fire destroying your home and memories without being put through the mill by the insurance company.

As for our situation, we still have heard nothing from the tribunal. My contra expert is working tirelessly with my advocate and hopes to have some word before the end of July, however, knowing France as I do I don't hold out much hope before September. August is looming fast and I don't honestly
think anything constructive is being done now.

maryjane-599094 1343396329

just had a visit from the representative of the first firm who I engaged to help me and then cancelled under duress from my insurance agent. I am assuming word has got around that I am telling people to get representation and help if they are
unfortunate enough to suffer a large loss to their property. Of course I am recommending the firm I am now using to anyone who asks for a reference for them, they are in my opinion doing a good job and I hope they will get a result for me.
I just got the impression the original firm wanted me to recommend them as well but I might be wrong. I have no reason to believe they would not be as good as another firm, however, having not used them I cannot recommend them as I have
had no dealings with them. My recommendation has always been, if your insurance agent will recommend say 3 or 4 firms to you you can meet with them and choose. If not I am prepared to recommend my firm. In other cases the only thing
anyone can do is search for firms on-line, give yourself enough choice and meet with them and then you will have to make the decision who to trust. This was my big problem at first having been so aggressively told by my insurance agent
that I was in the wrong to use my own expert I believed him and it has cost me dear. So as I say, read the small print and get help. As ever I am available to anyone by private email for any elaboration.

maryjane-599094 1346109869

Well here we are almost in September and what has changed since the court meeting on 2 July - nothing. The court official has taken July and August off and I am left still in my house surrounded by soot blackened walls.
One can only live in hope that with the dawning of September someone will do something. In the meantime I have started working on some of the rooms myself which is a soul destroying pastime. I am now setting myself the
task of finding an honest insurance company to change my house insurance to. I have tried one - having made an appointment and told them the problems I have had they were unable to answer any of my questions with regard
to exactly what I was and was not insured for. Having showed them my old policy they tell me I am insured at present for this and that and having gone the legal route I assure you I am not - conclusion - I don't think any of these
agents actually knows what they are doing and I am sure the policies are set up to provide the maximum loopholes for the company to get out of meeting as many claims as possible. I am still getting contacts about insurance
so at least I feel that I am warning others.

maryjane-599094 1347529077

Having waited since the meeting on 2 July, which was already waited for from April, for the promised

solution in September, I eagerly contacted my Advocat on 3 September wishing to forestall the possibility 

September turning into October and so on.    I am assured that they were on to the case immediately at 

the beginning of September and are pleased to let me know the expert judicaire who was called to the 

case in June, has now asked for devis from two experts!!!!   This will be eagerly awaited sometime in 

September and if I understand correctly, I will get a date for a meeting within three weeks.    No not 

three weeks from now, three weeks from when they get their devis.   I have this sinking feeling that

this is heading for Christmas and another winter without proper heating.  I am at present researching a 

new insurance provider and meeting with very little enthusiasm.   No wonder so many people give in

and settle for a fraction of the loss - this causes stress beyond belief, exasperation and sleepless

nights.   One thing is absolute in all this, if you suffer a big claim, Get Your Own Expert on Day One.

maryjane-599094 1348698855

just had notification from the tribunal.  They have sent me a huge dossier containing the dossier my contre expert prepared, and the dossier I had to prepare.   They have however, printed it out themselves, with a very swish looking layout - looks more like a bid for an important advertising campaign than my insurance claim.   Attached to this I have a letter asking me for another 3,500 euros to cover the expense of producig this document.   there is an attached schedule of expenses which has huge costs to cover mileage and hours of work done - for some reason I am being billed for a hotel and dinner??????

The best is last - they now say that the insurance company have a month to contest this document and if they do not they envisage a determination with be reached in six months.     It is now 17 months since the fire, 10 months since I engaged an expert, 7 months since we went to court and absolutely nothing has advanced except for the money I am asked to lay out.

It looks as though the tribunal thinks its okay for me to go through yet another winter with no hot water or heating- this is justice?????

maryjane-599094 1348873458

I have just had a scary new development to my saga.   I have been out looking for a new insurance company to take over my house insurance from January as I will not stay with these insurers any longer although I had to this year as the claim wasnt settled.

I have now tried three different companies and only one seemed at all keen to come to the house and give me a quote so hopefully that will be a success as they are coming next week.   I did have a man four weeks ago who hasnt bothered to send me a quote!

The strange this is that today whilst in an insurance office trying to get a quote I was asked if I had ever had insurance refused to me.   I said no why?   It appears that as I am in dispute with my assurers they could this year send me a letter saying they decline to insure me in future.   This would mean the company I was talking to would them decline to insure me as it was company policy not to insure anyone who has been refused insurance!!!

I was flabergasted - I am now resiliating my insurance forthwith which would presumably forestall this but could quite imagine this company that have caused me such distress for 18 months doing just this.    

rainbow-614470 1349099015

We urgently need to find an independent Expert, specialised in old buildings - does anyone know how to identify such a person?  Don't trust the insurance companies anyhow, the experts they send are paid by them so hardly neutral!  We live in the Gers but if we have to go further afield to get someone first-rate, will do so.  

Thanks for any help on this topic.


maryjane-599094 1349100226

i have sent you a private email

rainbow-614470 1349108397

Hello, thank you for your response saying you'd sent me an email - nothing has come through yet, I'm not 100% sure how this thing works!  All the best


maryjane-599094 1349108694

 I cant give you the details on this page as I think they will delete it.   You can ring me on 05 62 28 45 16 if the email doesnt get through or else send me an email address and I can reply to you.

maryjane-599094 1349108737

or you can email me direct on

maryjane-599094 1350054034

update.     I have just had my  contre expert visit me to finalise some paperwork.   This whole thread has been about warning other people about the importance of getting help with a large insurance claim.   I understand the procedure much better now than a year ago, hardly surprising when you consider the amount of paperwork I have had to go through and produce.  One thing I would like to re-inforce to anyone who has had a problem that is going to be a big claim.   GET HELP.   Before I told you to check your insurance policy to see if you were covered for the fees of this help.  My advice now is anyone taking out house insurance or renewing check to see what "renforts de garanties" are they should be at 15% to be sure you have adequate representation.    This is the part of the claim that when you have listed your losses say in the case of a fire you then have up to 15% of the claim to cover incidental costs such as the fees of a contre expert or relogement etc.  I know now, had a used a contre expert from day 1 I would not be in the mess I am now in.   My problem was the insurance company bullied me and told me I had no right to have an expert.  Looking with hindsight I would advise you, even if your insurance policy does not include this payment for an expert get one anyway.    They will tell you what it will cost you and believe me the insurance company will take you for a fool if you dont have your own expert and you will lose far more than the cost of the contre expert not to mention the work you will have to do to put in your claim.   If you leave it to your insurance company you will be fleeced.   This isnt to say they are all as bad as mine but even so.  Your next problem is how do you find a contre expert you can trust.  There are loads out there but if you are like I was you will probably think they are on the make and are 'ambulance chasers"    Not so it is part of French insurance.   If you need advice you should be able to trust ask your mayor - even if he doesnt know one he will know how to put you on the right path.

maryjane-599094 1350055863

sorry the bit about renfort de garanties should read:  


check your renfort de garanties - Pertes Pecuniaires which should be at a level of 15% to ensure you

adequate cover.

hazza_10000-597936 1355268158

An update firstly if anyone out there has insurance with the monsters I was insured with move now.Dont let apathy and inconvenience lull you into staying with them there are better out there.My supposed big day is almost here 17th December I have the tribunal reps and the insurance advocats and experts not to mention my own descending upon me.  They say they will take 10 hours to go through my claim - however they are arriving at 14.30???? Do they expect a bed?????

It is now 20 months since my house was hit by fire.   I still live in less than one quarter of the house but I do have hot water now!     I hope the cold spell lasts till next monday so that the experts and the tribunal people and the advocats get a taste of the temperatures I suffer in my house due to the impossible task of heating a house half in ruins.    They might just then understand what last winter was like for me.   However, I dont honestly think they care.    It is now 5 months since the tribunal chap came here and told me to expect my claim might take up to 6 more months to settle.   5 months later and they have done nothing.   I wonder how long he will say I have to wait this time.  I am just waiting to see if the meeting gets cancelled the eve before which has happened twice now.  I have acquired the name and telephone of a mental hospital nearby and think I might book myself in if they cancel again.

maryjane-599094 1355785646

Well that was a nice way to spend an afternoon!  Having waited for the meeting to settle the claim for the contents of my house since 2nd July today was long awaited - at the cost of over 3,000 euros!  I have to say I was somewhat nervous about the proceedings.  The court sent two charming gentlemen  from Marseilles to the house accompanied by a very nice lady from Toulouse.  They turned out to be experts in fine art - I was somewhat confused as I had been told the man running my court case, being an architect could only deal with the building damage and the meeting was for someone to value the losses of the contents.  Imagine my astonishment when I discovered these very expensive gentlemen were there just for my paintings and antiques and had nothing to do with the furniture lost in the house.     Having said that they did an excellent job even though the expert engaged by the insurance company  did his best to disrupt the proceedings.  It is relevant to point out these gentlemen were appointed by the tribunal to make an expert assessment that would be binding not only by myself but the insurance company as well and we had no right to interfere in their assessments which are completely independant.   This did not stop the insurance company sending their expert who as I said did his best to disrupt.  It came to the point that the tribunal appointee asked if they could have a discussion at which point he was told in no uncertain terms that the experts would make their own decision and send their report after due deliberation.   At the end of the meeting these experts put their notes and deliberations on the table everyone was working at and went to fetch something.  On their return their paperwork had disappeared.  The expert was adamant he had put his notes for the report on the table but went to check if they were where he had been working - on his return the expert from the insurance company who had been outside was back in the room and the notes had mysteriously re-appeared.    No-one would admit to putting them there!     After everyone had gone these two gentlement said they had been doing this work for nearly 50 years and had never in their lives witnessed such bad behavious by an insurance company.   They put it to me that I had to make a complaint about the personal behavious of the insurance inspector and the expert he had employed.    In their opinion their behaviour was dishonest to say the least.    I told him my Advocat had already voiced this opinion to me but had advised me to wait till the claim was settled.    I have to say my spirits were enormously lifted when on discussing some of the building damage yet again the insurance company inspector was being very difficult and my expert offered to take him outside to sort the situation out man to man.   It cheered me up no end.   Even my extremely professional and calm advocat looked furious today and has animated herself into attack.   The outcome yet another meeting in the new year and this time it is the architect who will decide on the contents even though for the last six months he has cliamed he is not competent to do so.      If nothing else please please, if you are coming up to renew your insurance, make sure you are not with my company A.. or my Agent in Condom.     If you need confirmation of who they are please email me.   The more people who can be made aware of this company the better.    happy christmas everyone.

richardandelse-600040 1355822489

Dear Maryjane, I am astonished that it has gone on so long.  I also think that you have a good case to go against the insurance company for compensation against the way you have been treated and I wonder if there is such a thing here as an Insurance Ombudsman or a controlling Insurance association body where you can go and present your case for arbitration?  Where you can claim against the insurance company regarding their handling (or lack there of) of the situation & claim damages etc.  It is (I know) in some other countries a 'fast-track' route as a court case can be costly and drag on for years where as an arbitration through the above is quicker and less costly, though you will require a lawyer to present your case properly. Good luck.

maryjane-599094 1355824497

Thanks for the input.  I dont know the structure for an ombudsman but I have been told there is cause for an investigation into the conduct of this insurance company's inspector and the agent.  Having said that, years ago my husband had an accident as a passenger in a car.  He was hurt and the insurance claim by the owner also included a claim for my husband's injuries.   They were not severe but the bills amounted to a couple of thousand euros mainly due to the broken teeth he suffered and the expensive dental restoration which is not covered by the medical insurance.  The company in question at first accepted the claim then proceeded to ignore settlement inspite of receiving all the medical reports and bills.   We sought a possible ombudsman and asked our insurance agent (the one who has caused us such problems) for advice as we didnt know where to start.    He said there was such a person for each department and he was the representative for thegers.   He sent various letters and the other insurance company settled immediately so they must have some clout.    I dont know if he is still in this position but you can imagine, given  his behaviour with us, it is somewhat worrying to think he is the person holding this position in the Gers.

I have heard throughout this drama that I have the right to relodgement, compensation, representation etc etc and I have to say to date I feel I have been in the front line.   I dont have a lot of faith in the law and just hope I wont be proved right.    After yesterday's meeting for about the first time I actually feel I might have won the support of the people who were brought in from Marseilles to avoid any impartiality - the insurance company wanted a lady from Auch who is a hussier not an expert at all - and it has spurred me on to fight them to the end.   The overhanging worry is it has already cost me 10,000 euros in fees.   They keep saying dont worry the company will have to pay when you win but that doesnt make me sleep any better.   I think at present I will take the advice of my advocat to get settlement then follow the path of going after this man.  As I have said all along this thread has always been aimed at getting the word about this company and insurance agent out to the expats in particular to try to prevent them repeating this saga with someone else.   The agent and his family, all in the business are aiming the foreigners and offering legal advice for them if they have claim or legal problems - the mind boggles.      

maryjane-599094 1355824669

sorry that should read to ensure impartiallity!

richardandelse-600040 1355826030

Since as you say 'won the support of the people who were brought in from Marseilles ' I would contact them and ask their impartial view since they were obviously shocked by the agent and your situation in general and am sure they will give you good advice as to what to do and how as they are obviously sympathetic to your situation.

maryjane-599094 1355838444

yes thats a good idea.  I have spoken this morning with my new insurance company who say they know the firm these men came from and it is the leading firm in France long established who deal with evaluations of fine art and antiques.   I didnt push it last night as they were obviously tired and had a long drive home but now I can see no reason not to write to them just asking if they have any advice for me as to how to go about dealing with the situation of the way this whole thing has been handled.  thanks for the input.

maryjane-599094 1361483304

I have just had a brief message that the independant experts have apparently come down heavily on my side and therefore the tribunal have accepted that the insurance company have tried to seriously underpay me  for the restoration of  my damaged paintings.  It has apparently now also been proved to the Tribunal that in spite of their claims, the insurance have not covered the repairs to my stone walls and will have to do so.   I can hardly believe that we might just be getting somewhere.  Apparently my advocat is waiting to hear from the Tribunal but if I have understood correctly this is a major step forward and a meeting will be quickly set up to settle the rest of the contents.  I cant wait to see the report of the Tribunal's experts.  It is now 22 months since the fire and we are still living in two rooms with only an open fire for heat although the plumbing and electrics are nearly finished.    Fingers crossed this is the beginning of the end as I have had enough.  It is so  important that people understand that if they suffer a serious fire, flood or whatever which is going to result in a big claim, that they get their own expert to represent them and do not let themselves be bullied out of this representation it is your right and French law.  I would advise anyone who is insured with my company to look elsewhere.

maryjane-599094 1363973239

3 more months since the meeting to supposedly sort this mess out.  I have now had a report from the tribunal.   They have awarded me in full the amount to repair the damaged to the house mainly due to the fact that after prevaricating for over a year, the insurance company have now provided no defense to their case.  I am convinced they are just trying every ploy to delay longer and longer.  I have just spent two weeks defending my claim for the contents in writing with justification of the prices of replacement and photographs of the damaged items.  Might I warn anyone who has house insurance, take photographs of each and every one of your rooms showing as much of the furniture and fittings as possible - just in case!  I have just had a visit from my advocat and my assessor expert to finalise the claim before submitting it to the tribunal by today.   I am still somewhat disbelieving that the insurance agents can have been allowed to get away with all this for so long.    I have the bottom line from my experts.   The tribunal has now understood that the insurance company has and is continuing to act in 'mauvaise foie' and they expect a final decision from the tribunal within 3 months.  They then dropped the bombshell that they then have to go to the advocat of the insurance company with the order from the tribunal and try to settle 'a l'amiable'.  Apparently if the insurance company chose not to comply with the order of the tribunal (ie they try to cut the award yet again) then I have the choice to accept (why would I do that after fighting them for nearly two years) or else we have to go to the tribunal and ask them for a judgement.  Sorry I thought we had one.   I then get told this could take ONE YEAR!   In all this they are having to ask the court for PERMISSION to delay the building works as normally they have to be done within 2 years of the fire.   I can see this going on and on.  It now appears that I have to take out a loan if I want to complete the works and then hope to get the money back.    I am firmly of the opinion that this is a big company doing what it is doing because it can.   Back to my original post  -  do not use my agent, or my insurance company and if you have a big claim engage your own assessor from the very first day and dont let anyone talk you out of it.

maryjane-599094 1365207341

Having kept to the deadline set by the court, my insurance company have now submitted a letter - late (whats the point of a deadline?)  The two page letter is unbelievable and clearly demonstrates they are making little effort to offer genuine reasons for opposition.   They now contest what the court has ordered on the grounds the court did not ask them!   One of their complaints is that they do not wish to pay for the cleaning and resealing and treating of my bedroom floor tiles and those of  the stairs leading to it .  They claim this room was not in use at the time of the fire and was not damaged. This was my bedroom and was in direct line of the fire and blackened with thick greasy soot.   The insurance company sent in a firm to clean and decontaminate this room but now claim it was not in use and not damaged.  I received a phone call this afternoon from the firm of assessors who are representing me.  They were at the home of a lady who has just suffered a fire and asked me to translate for her as she was having difficulty understanding.   I advised her to get them to represent her as  I would hate to see anyone else going down the path I have travelled.    This was my original aim.  Do not rely on your insurance agent or company if you suffer a bad sinistre.   Get your own representation - this is a legal requirement in France do not be bullied against it as I was.

maryjane-599094 1367773203

I am still trying to make as many people as possible aware of the problems they could get themselves into with insurance.   I have been encouraged recently by the amount of people I have met casually, getting talking to them have said they have read my long long thread about this particular insurance company.    I have received well over 150 private emails from people requesting details of the insurance company concerned and also the agent concerned who has treated us so badly which I have been very happy to supply.    My purpose in all this is to make as many people aware, move from this company and pass the message on to others.

Sadly, I sent details to one person who was insured with my people which worried him, but he seemed to think it is too much trouble and difficult to move insurance companies.  It is not, get quotes about 3 to 4 months ahead of the renewal and then make sure you give at least 2 full months notice of leaving in writing by recorded post avec recipisse de reception and make sure you keep your receipts that the notice has been delivered.   You are then covered.  If you are moving insurance companies the new one will often offer to do this for you - I have been advised its best to do it yourself but in any case if there is ever a problem you will have to prove you did the necessary thing.

Very recently we met another English family who had also been reading the thread for some time.  It turns out they are insured with the same company but not the same agent.   They obviously were interested enough to read the thread but did not move companies.   I have just heard they have had a serious event at their house and notified the insurance company who are refusing all responsibility and their agent will do nothing about it.   I cant go into the problem as it is not my business however, this does demonstrate that this is not just my insurance agent in Condom but a second one with the same company.   I have always told people I cannot speak for other agents in Condom with the same company as I have no reason to believe they would have done what my agent has done, but this shows there is a second agent in the same town  with the same company who has refused to support his client.   They are now in very serious trouble with the house.   

Please get this message out to the expat community.    Interest yourself in who this company is and who the agent/s are and if you are insured with them move.  Also whatever you do, if you have a big claim, and I think it has to be over about 50,000 euros get yourself your own assessor who will act for you from day one.        I am happy to supply the details by private email.

My own saga continues, two years on from the fire we are still living in a mess, the buildings are nearly settled with the court but the company is still causing problems.    I have had massive paperwork to deal with over the contents and just had some very comforting letters sent to me by the court from their experts who have been valuing things.  The insurance people totally trashed my arguments of some of the damage as rubbish and the experts have now totally supported me after being asked for an opinion by the court.   Perhaps this will send a message to the insurance company that I am not going away - the costs at present have topped 20,000 euros.    My advocat has confirmed the 14,000 euros costs to date with the court will have to be reimbursed to me by the insurance company but she will have to fight for any contribution towards her costs on my behalf.  And still they go on.  To date with the costs and the projected findings of the court they have to pay me at least 65,000 euros more than they offered which proves they tried to bully us into low compensation.   This is all about bullying people they see as easy targets.  Over 50, foreign and female!   And I speak French.   Please help me get the word out to the expat community and indeed anyone you know to move from this company and certainly from this agent.   I know many expats use one of them because there is an English speaker in the company.   Thats no good to you if he just tells you he wont help you in time of need.

richardandelse-600040 1367773793

Sterling information Maryjane and I hope that your long fight will be won sooner than later.  I am sure you have also totted up all hours spent on your paper work and are submitting a bill for hours spent @ 'x' euro per hour......good luck.  ps we are not insured with them.

maryjane-599094 1367791307

I Wish,  I did make the point of the time effort and expense involved in the paperwork, printing, photos etc not to mention the fact that as we only have two rooms useable in our 5 bedroom house, my daughter has rented elsewhere, my family cant come to visit and my son who is now in England also rarely visits due to lack of space, should be compensated and I was told not a chance under French law!

PaulT-617970 1367859071

Oh dear, as a relative newcomer to AngloInfo this is the first I have seen of your very sorry tale.

I have read elsewhere about this company - you let slip the name in one of your postings - and it has not been good.

You seem a very remarkale person not letting them get the better of you.

I wish you the best of luck in your fight.



maryjane-599094 1367861338

thanks Paul.  I have to say I have been in the lowest depths and dreading the next episode.   When I am faced with meetings in my ruined house sometimes with 12 people all arguing however, I seem to be able to get into fighting mode.   I dont have trouble sticking up for myself, its in the middle of the night when it keeps me awake that I find hard to cope with.  They have taken two years of my life and made it a living misery and the main reason I started this is I will go to hell and back to get it known how this particular company operate and try to get the expats to avoid them - and tell them why.   We all suffer from apathy and I myself am very guilty of not wanting to change what I have set up but the one thing that has come through in all my dealings is that this is common practice for this company and they prey on what they see as the weak, foreign, over 50/60, female.

maryjane-599094 1369846156

Well that was an unexpected turn to the saga.  I have not been feeling well for a few weeks, nothing serious just exhausted and fed up and on return of a two week trip to visit mother in England during which I had several days of feeling out of sorts I decided to see my wonderful Gp on my return.  She was not concerned saying I had a  throat infection but decided to get some blood tests done as a check up.   Next day duly went to the lab for the tests and two hours later received a call from the doctor telling me to get to the hospital now as the blood tests were showing serious problems.  I have just spent 6 days in intensive care - I have to say the medical people have been wonderful - and have apparently suffered a heart attack some time in the last couple of weeks - and yes apparently you can do so without undue pain or illness!  I have undergone treatment and the hospital have been rigorous in investigating not only the treatment side but the cause side.   They have declared that I have non of the risk facteurs linked to heart attacks and the only possible cause is STRESS.  The quizzed me on what might have cause me such stress and of cours I started talking about our fire and the last two years.   The answer, this is without any doubt the cause of my heart attack.  Due to the wonderful health service here I am home but feeling delicate.   I have strict instructions to leave all future dealings with my advocat and assessor and must refuse to meet with the myriad of officials who invade my house and argue for hours.   They are of course quite right and I intend absolutely to do this, this does not however mean I intend to give up.   I deem I have supplied every form of proof and evidence humanly possible now the court must do its work.   I intend to remain calm and quiet and preserve my health.   However, more than ever I want to get across to the expats here about the importance of understanding insurance in case of a big sinistre and most of all to try to prevent anyone else from using this unprincipalled firm or its agent.   The contre experts are not ambulance chasers, they are a requirement of french law and will guide and help you and hopefully avoid you falling into the treatment I have received. 

simmy1969-604680 1369857212

sorry to hear your story, can you let me know the details of the agent and insurance company.

My email address is


rainbow-614470 1369858421

I wish you a speedy peaceful recovery.  Would you be kind & let me know the names of the bad guys in this sorry saga?  Many thanks


richardandelse-600040 1369860382

Unbelievable, I would respectfully suggest you tell your notaire that you will claim for aggrevated damages as a secondary claim (should you win the initial claim) for physical and mental damage over this prolonged period which has resulted in a heart attack.  Especially since you do not show any normal symptoms but have high stress due to this shocking ongoing situation.  It would be also very important to get medical records showing such and an affidavit from the medical staff concerned. I appredciate this probably adds more stress to the situation but on the other hand perhaps there are medical lawyers out there who work on 'no cure no pay' excuse the terrible pun which is not intended - but effectively they take on your case; and if there is no win then they get no pay. Perhaps your notaire or your experts in Toulouse can advise you on this.  Best wishes, good luck and speed recovery. 

ali-598846 1369948586

Gosh, maryjane, so sorry to hear this.  We've followed your sorry tale of events from the beginning & really feel for you.  Hope you are feeling better now & continue to do so.  Agree with the idea of you throwing a curveball into this though - the threat of further action (backed up by medical opinion) may advance matters & put an end to all your strife.  Best wishes.xx


scenic-616610 1370851232


I am about to change my insurance company and in particular the agent please can anyone tell me which insurance company should be avoided. Thank you

maryjane-599094 1370856415

I have sent you a private email with information.


crafter-618132 1370985918

hello goes without saying how sad i feel. i'm looking to insure my house with another company i want one who speaks at least a little english as my french is very poor -i'm a new arrival. please let me know who you were with so i can avoid them. for the last 6 years i've been with allianze who have an office in Lectoure but to be honest i can't make head nor tail of the policy and dread the thought of making a claim.

hope you are nearer to being sorted


maryjane-599094 1370989361

I have just sent you an email.


maryjane-599094 1371148333

Have had a call from another poor Brit who has suffered an awful fire in his house.   My assessors had called to see him following the fire offering their services to represent him.   He had exactly the same reaction as I did thinking the salesman very pushy and they were ambulance chasers out to make money from me.    I told him my sorry tale and how I wish now I had used an assessor from day 1.    Just to make the point if you have a big sinistre get yourself an assessor to defend you.  Even if your insurance company are being nice today that may all change as I know to my cost.  Having been chastised by the court for not employing an assessor from day one I was told it is the law in France to be represented by your own assessor.    A reputable insurance company should not be afraid of this if they dont intend to cheat you.   Its a fact of life that most pompiers have contacts with these firms and tip them the information after a fire.   There are many firms offering this work.   I am lucky that the ones I used have been excellent and really I couldnt have asked more from them.   In doubt you should be able to get advice on who to use from your mairie or your insurance agent who should try to give you the choice of say three.  I am sure not all insurance companies would behave the way mine have but why take the risk.   If it is required by law in France to engage your own assessor there can be no acceptable reason for an insurance company to object.

maryjane-599094 1372345098

I know some of you who have read this thread might think oh well all insurance companies are like that - this one is perhaps no better or worse than others.   I have just read an article in the Daily Mail by Tony Hazell who writes a sort of watchdog type of column and print an extract below which I found interesting:-

"A couple of weeks ago Malcolm Tarling, spokesman for the Association of British Insurers, appeared on BBC’s Watchdog, assuring viewers that insurers always looked for reasons to pay up and make life easy for their customers.

Well, I suggest he sits down and has a long and serious conversation with the bosses of Axa. Because I am sick to the back teeth of receiving complaints about this firm. I receive more complaints about Axa than any other insurer."  

This is backing up all I have been told during my long saga from various officials.   Beware.


Shiner-871423 1372410303

Q.  How can you tell when an insurance salesman is lying?

A.  His lips are moving.

maryjane-599094 1372867797

I have seen a posting in the gers asking for advice on insurance.   Several responses have to my dismay recommended the very company that I am trying to warn against.    Especially noteworthy is the fact that this company uses English speaking people in order to get English customers who feel more comfortable, quite understandably, speaking about insurance in their own language and although I in no way wish to malign those people working for this company that obviously have no connection whatever with my case, It is still the company that is without scruples and this thread is designed to try to prevent any other poor person suffering as we have if it is at all possible.    Anyone wishing to know the name of the company and agent feel free to email me.

maryjane-599094 1373412628

At last, the final (dare I believe it) meeting at my house.   I was dispatched elsewhere having been warned I must not get stressed, and left my husband and daughter to field questions from the insurance company assessor.    The tribunal have published their findings both for the house repairs and the contents loss and came down unbelievably heavily in our favour.    However, the insurance company immediately insisted on another meeting to contest the findings.    The tribunal representative allowed this as he said if he refuses the meeting it leaves the door open for the company to appeal to the tribunal and delay the proceedings for a further year.  They also insisted that the insurance experts from Marseilles be at the meeting for questions with regard to their report. The outcome, the assessor actually disputed about 10 items out of 600, none of which was covered by the report from the experts from Marseilles, and none of which were highly priced items.  The court refused their opposition to several items and asked if we would accept a very reasonable compromise on the others which we did.  The insurance company were totally indifferent to the fact they had hauled the Marseilles experts back here for nothing and the meeting only lasted about an hour and a half.    Apparently agreement has now been reached and with minor adjustments the claim for the contents should be paid. I am in no way counting my chickens and will believe it when we receive payment from the insurance.     Many people have contacted me saying they dont understand their policies - obviously not all insurance companies will behave in the totally disgraceful way mine have, but I would reiterate - if you suffer a big claim for your house - get advice. Your broker  should tell you if your policy covers a contre expert - perhaps the moment to ask in now, before you might need to claim.    He should also give you two or three recommendations if you dont know a contre expert.    If he is unwilling to answer these questions it is an indication to the trouble you will have further down the line.   An honest broker has no reason to fear a contre expert especially in the full knowledge that it is the law in france for the client to have his own expert to represent him.  I am more than willing  to supply the name of the company I have used to anyone who wants to know.   The expert has worked tirelessly for me but I should have used him from the very start.   

Alan Longland-599034 1373457816

Let's keep our fingers crossed for you.

Shiner-871423 1373459260

We wish you the best of luck maryjane, you deserve it and more besides.  Fingers crossed!

maryjane-599094 1373474164

thank you

heliconia-603910 1373481474

I am sure all of us have been following this awful saga will be so pleased if you finally receive a payment. Good luck.


maryjane-599094 1382384918

just thought I would say inspite of the court judgement in mid August - we are still living with a half ruined house.   He we go into winter no. 3 with very little improvement.    I was assured I would receive money soon to enable me to get the workmen back and try to carry out the big works before yet another winter descends upon us.   3 September I asked what was happening - got told settlement imminent.   End of September was told nothing had happened as  although the insurance compan y were told to pay in mid August their man chose to go to Canada on 1 September for a month and no-one else could deal with settlement.  Told settlement would advance as soon as he returned.   Now 20th October - not a cent and no contact!!!!!     Is it really going to mean I will have to go to court to enforce payment.    I have already spent 20,000 euros on legal costs - Believe me please - do not use this insurance company and if you ever ever have a big claim get legal representation on day one and ignore anyone who says the insurance company will look after you because they only will if they have a legal person ensuring that from day 1.   Anyone who wants to know which company to avoid or move from and the agent can email me.

davelynn-534909 1383038491

Hi  MaryJane

Very sorry to here of your problems with the insurance company. Hope they are soon resolved as it must be a nightmare.  Would be interested to know the name of the company please.

Thanks and Good Luck!



wrfree-613314 1383076726

Hi , 


I have followed your story  and can only say how sorry I am for you and hope that you do get  a satisfactory outcome soon. Yes, I am interested to know the the name  of the company .

good luck.



Phil McCracken-604480 1383078202

If one were to be insured by your company - would we have an axe to grind.

maryjane-599094 1383134012

oh yes

McDermott02 1383170588

hi, this is an absolutely terrible ordeal and to go on for such a long time..i am so sorry for your situation.please could i also receive the culprites insurance name.,if it happens to be my current provider i will be changing as soon as legally permitted. thankyou and i sincerely hope you get this resolved.julia

maryjane-599094 1387300007

just in case there is anyone out there who still doubts that this insurance company is a disgrace - a quick update.   In spite of the legal finding of the tribunal awarding me more than three times the amount offered by said insurance company plus the damage to the house in full on 18th August here we are nearly Christmas again and I have received not one penny from them.  This is our third winter living in part of a house the rest of which has no heating - we hang blankets over doors to stop the cold seeping into the parts we can heat.  I cannot continue with the works until I get some money from them and they are intent on making me wait as long as they can.   My advocat has added damages to the claim and interest on the money from 18th August but frankly I would rather just get paid.   They know they have to pay and are deliberately delaying to the maximum they think they can in revenge.  Please do not suffer a similar fate to us, if you are insured with this firm and especially with this agent get out now.  I would not wish this on anyone else but we all feel a bit lethargic when it comes to change - please dont make that mistake - I am happy to supply details of the firm and the agency in Condom to anyone who requires it.

lucy55-883129 1387363750

is it MMA?

maryjane-599094 1387367984

no have sent you an email

Bof No1-120464 1387384857

Hi, have followed your saga up to the point where you won and assumed all was ok. Now that it's brought to the top of the page, I'm horrified to see that you're no better off. What is the problem with this company and also, with French justice? Please let me know the name of this company and be advised, I'll be telling everyone I know the name, so they can vote with their feet. Many thanks, Bof No1.


maryjane-599094 1387386742

i have sent you an email.


uk tramper 1387991763

`hi `mry jane god this has been going on for ever can you send me their name as well please have a good xmas if you can 

maryjane-599094 1388014911

thank you.  I have to say I have re-insured my house, but really only because one has to.   I have lost all faith in insurance and those that have been imbroiled in this saga.   Ever since my advocat told me we had won our case and it was certain I have had that feeling of yes well I'll believe it when I get the cheque.  I am not saying she has not been helpful as I know she has worked hard for me as has my assessor.   I dont know whether I am being pedantic and ungrateful but I find it incredible they have not, having won the case, been able to obtain payment for me since August.  


Captain-604029 1388042854

So sorry to hear that you have still not been paid out, disgusting. I'd take my sleeping bag & kettle and go and camp in their offices with my legal paperwork showing i had won and would not budge until i had a cheque in my hand.

maryjane-599094 1388056317

have sent you a private email please pass on the details as you are able.


maryjane-599094 1389204046

Got all excited this morning with a letter from my advocat.    Guess what the insurance company, 5 months after the decision by the tribunal they had to pay me in full, have sent a cheque.   Dont get too excited.    They have paid in full for the works to be done on the building but they have written the offer in such a way it has taken me all day to decipher it.    They have made me an offer for my contents, after the tribunal had awarded the full amount of almost the same figure they offered 2 years ago and I refused.   The only difference being they have not reduced the amount for age having after two years admitted I had a policy new for old without reductions.   They knew this of course just thought they would reduce my claim even further.   Why would they think I would accept the offer now after 3 winters without heating, and 20,000 euros legal fees.  I am delighted to see my advocat has put in a claim for damages for prejucide morale et resistance abusive et injustifiee - sounds good wonder how many years it will take to get there.  Having made no attempt for 2 years to negotiate with my assessor and ignoring the tribunal one wonders why they think they can now having been found against think they can start negotiating.  Still no doubt I will find out.    The good news is if I am aloud to cash their cheque I can start the building works although its not enough to finish but I'm not sure I am allowed to cash the cheque if I am not accepting the offer.    Needless to say I am not holding my breath.     This must go to convincing people out there to avoid this company this must be going beyond the point where they are just being difficult.   As always if you need to know who to avoid please email me.

maryjane-599094 1392508859

well here we are six weeks on from my last posting and guess what.  Yes you have it I have received nothing.....not a single centime.   I have to say I have not pursued the matter too energetically as three weeks I had an accident that landed me back in hospital.   I am beginning to think this insurance company has a devious plan to see if they can outlive me!    Please do yourselves a favour and avoid this company A..     at all costs.

maryjane-599094 1393693169

Well after 6 months of virtually no action whatsoever I get a phone call from my advocat at 8pm.  She tells me she has cashed the cheque sent by the insurance company and thought she was keeping the money in her account and I could send her the workmens bills.   Why would she think this when I have been asking when am I going to get some money to do the work with!!!!   She then told me she would be deducting her fees from the cheque she would now send me - do I get a hint here, after paying her bills on the dot whenever asked over the last 2 years- that she doesnt trust me to pay her if I get the money from the insurance company.   She then says she will not be able to send the cheque till next thursday?    when a cheque comes from the insurance company it has to go into a clients account and stay there 25 days by french law and then it can be sent to the client.  This means she should have sent me the cheque on the 1st February.   She tells me she will write setting it all out for me to understand.   The letter arrives on my email yesterday evening.  It seems in order all except for one little detail.   I am now told, after having been assured that due to the court process  I will be given time to finish the work, I now have to complete and provide the bills by the beginning of May 2014 or lose the money!!!!   I rang her office even though it was after 7pm and actually got hold of her only for her to say its late and I have to leave the office - I have to say I wasnt very nice and said I wanted answers and I wanted them now.   After a lot of prevaricating I am beginning to wonder if she knows what she is doing.  Anyway the long and the short of it I have to somehow persuade the menuisiere to start work immediately and have the work finished within the month also the painter has been warned and has said he will get to the house as soon as the woodwork is done so if we work like idiots we might just make the deadline as I cant get a definite answer as to whether this deadline is bonafide.After my experiences I would be quite prepared to believe the insurance company thinks they might through my ignorance get the last laugh if it is out of time.   I have to say I have had a bad feeling ever since the court found in my favour so heavily.   It appears now I will have to accept the loss of 20,000 euros of the claim as I am now told if I go back to court to insist I have to pay the court costs which could well be a minimum of 15,000 euros.      This all goes to convince me that people really need to know that in the event of a big claim on their house insurance they MUST engage their own assessor from DAY 1 to protect their loss.  Dont do what I have done and find out the dos and donts the hard way.   Check today that your insurance policy with its contents has cover for the fees of this contre-expert - they usually allow 5% of the amount of the claim for his fees.  If your agent or company dont want to discuss this requirement in french law ask yourself why.  Above all else if you are insured with this excuse of a company that has made my life unpleasant for three years do yourself a favour and move to someone else.   Anyone who wishes to know who they are can email me for the details.

Phil McCracken-604480 1393760678

Thanks for the update - it has been a struggle for you. We insure for property and cars are with this company - the ax(e) is about to fall on them.

maryjane-599094 1393761578

I dont want to lose sight of why I am writing this post.  It is an attempt to help other expats understand a situation that has caused me enormous problems and distress because I didnt have the right information and trusted the wrong people.  We can all sometimes  be vunerable, even if we speak good french, to misunderstanding or trusting the wrong people which I certainly did.  The fact of the matter is that once we have sorted out things like insurance it is only natural to become complacent and let life roll on.  It is also natural, if we hear others have had a problem to incline on the side of there probably being 2 sides to any story and it wont happen to me.  The point here is that out of the mouth of the tribunal judge - It is the law in France in the case of a serious claim, to engage your own contre expert.  I was told the opposite by my insurance agent and bullied into canceling this contre expert.  There is absolutely no excuse for this for the agent - he just wanted to settle the claim as cheaply as possible and didnt want me to have support.    The work and paperwork I have had to do over the last three years if phenominal and complicated - I have at times struggled - anyone without reasonable French would not have managed at all.   Had I used a contre expert as the law requires and had I known that I would not have been bullied and I honestly dont believe the insurance company would have gone to the lengths it has done.  If you are not able to completely understand your policy and the small print, ask your agent if you have cover for a contre expert in the event of a sinistre.  You should have cover for fees up to 5% of the resulting claim.  Any reputable agent will give you a straightforward answer and show you where the relevant cover is on your policy - failing this I would assume the agent to have an ulterior motive.  As I have said dont leave it to your agent or the insurance company's assessor get your own representation its not that hard and they will do the work for you and you wont end up with a 3 year battle through the tribunal.

maryjane-599094 1393761735

sorry that should read cover up to 15%.

madeleine-925655 1395055159

Yes, I too would like to know the name of your insurance, just in case.   And the good assessor too.   Terible story,so sorry.    Bonne chance with the future.   Madeleine.   email:

maryjane-599094 1395066853

madeleine   have sent you a private email.


maryjane-599094 1395073229

Well three weeks from the time she said I would be getting my cheque it has finally arrived!!!!   I now have money in the bank which is just as well as one of the workmen has just asked for a payment on accompte which I would not otherwise have had the money for.  The work has started this morning no thanks to my advocat giving me such short notice.  I have to say a huge grateful thankyou to the wonderful workmen who have dropped everything and come to work here at a few days notice in order to get all the work finished before the end of April I will never be able to thank them enough.  They reckon three weeks hard work in this weather should see it all done.  We worked like fiends all last week emptying all the remaining things in the rooms to be done and were so happy this morning to hand the work over to the teams that have arrived.  For the first time in three years I feel like my house is coming back to me.

Allypally-951417 1395186270

My friend has just told me to read your blog after our holiday home was devastated by a fire two weeks ago.  I am so glad to hear that your situation was resolved, although the circumstances sound horrific.  Unfortunately our insurance does not cover a contre expert and I am now worried that if we have to engage one at our own cost, we will be unable to re-build our property if 15% of the claim is deducted in their fees.  With all your experience, what would you suggest that we do?

maryjane-599094 1395208109

Firstly I am so sorry to hear of your fire.   Lots of questions - are you sure you are not covered for this contre expert.   I was told to start with, that I had no right to do this and whilst they didnt actually say I did not have this on my insurance policy I think the actual words were it will finish badly for you if you persist in engaging a contre expert.  Who is your policy with.  I am pretty expert in what my policy entails now but of course that doesnt mean it is the same for yours.

 The money the experts take for handling a case is usually 5%, this is covered in a part of the claim under Frais Consecutive.   The frais consecutive which covers other things as well is usually 15%  of the claim.  For example in this 15% frais consecutive would be included any rent for rehousing you incur, which is why I ask you to be certain you are not covered for a contre expert as I didnt ask for this cover - didnt know about it at the point of taking out a policy so be sure they are not lying to you.

 Sounds hard and I am not suggesting you start a fight but I was lied to. Basically the rest of the claim will be in one part for the building and in another for the contents.  Obviously your cover is specific to what you have insured for but the usual is for the building damage to be covered up to the cost of the rebuild (the level your agent sets on when he quotes you your premium).  This will be assessed on the devis obtained for the work - you will be paid some of the money for each section of work ie electrics, plumbing, stonework etc and they will keep a percentage back some at 15% some at 20% which will be paid to you on completion of the work when you give them the bill you have paid. 

Then the contents are insured up to the level you have insured for but I had contents cover that was basically new for old however, my insurance company tried to deduct for age saying c'est comme ca it was my advocat who eventually flattened that and my claim went through as new for old.   One very certain way to find out if you are covered is to ask for a consult with a contre expert.  Usually some firm or other turns up on your doorstep within days of the fire - the firemen tip them off - and approaches you.  If this has not happened - maybe you are not in France at the moment and havent seen them.   I thought to my cost they were ambulance chasers and was very worried which is what my insurance company played on.  

Usually these firms wont act unless the claim is at least 50,000 euros.   My claim in the end was over 250,000 and the contre expert got about 11,500 euros but the insurance paid this not me.  I can understand your worry if you have to pay.   If you call a contre expert and tell him you have had a fire and would he come out to see if you are covered for his fees he will look at the damage and your policy and tell you.  If you are still worried ask for it in writing from him if he says you are covered by the policy.  Obviously if you are not insured you then have to make a decision.  One point I would say is that the first thing the man from the Tribunal said to me when our dispute was sent to court, was why didnt I engage a contre expert from the start as it is the law in France that the client has to have a contre expert to support his claim - this leads me to wonder why it is not on all policies?

I am sending you a private email with some details I dont think I can post on here. 

Allypally-951417 1395255151

Coincidentally the contre expert that we discussed (the one you didn't go with)  got back to us today and said they would like to represent us.  He confirmed that we are not covered on our policy (something to do with it being arranged through a bank!?). Can't find anything negative about our company on Google so far, but will dig a bit more before we decide what to do.  Thank you again for your advice.and I will keep you posted as to how we get on

maryjane-599094 1395266406

Thats interesting.  Could be another point to bring to the attention of people when taking out their policies - do it through a bank,and you get a lesser policy that does not cover this aid!  Sorry to hear that you definitely are not covered but at least you know now.  Good luck.


carolamiers 1395438417

That's great news that you have finally got some money back

heliconia-603910 1395471221

So glad you finally got there..and it has been a useful lesson for everyone following your nightmare with the insurer.


carolamiers 1396264282

So far I can't find an insurer that does pay for the contre expert in case of a sinistre or catastrophe? It does not seem to be common to cover that expense to my knowledge. Anyone find anything different? 

maryjane-599094 1396268205

well certainly Axa do!    Allianz also.  Cant speak for other companies as dont know.  I have been told it is commonplace with most good policies however like everything you get what you pay for perhaps if you have a cheaper policy it isnt.   I know my policy was a very good one which covered me for replacing the contents new for old but some people will tell you this does not exist in France.   The company tried to devalue for age and were overrulled by the tribunal.   

maryjane-599094 1403652927

having just returned from England there was an email from someone asking for information in the last few days on my email address.   However, being half asleep at the time I appear to have deleted it by mistake so am unable to reply.   Please if you still need information email me again whoever it was and I will try to help if I can.   Sorry about this must be jetlag.


Abigail-614565 1404136615

Hello maryjane

I think you must be referring to me.  My request was for the name and contact details of your own loss adjuster, and whether or not you were happy with the advice you received from him/her.  

Many thanks


maryjane-599094 1404139332

will send you an email


maryjane-599094 1406829150

Update -  Here we are about to enter August 2014.   The judgement for the settlement on our claim was made in August 2013 and after much complaining I was made an interim payment in March this year.  The works have all been finished now thank goodness  as I was given 6 weeks notice that I had to have all the bills finalised by 1 May 2014 or lose the money!!!!   The workmen were marvellous and all dropped what they were doing to mass on the house and complete all the work.   The bills were duly delivered and I was silly enough to expect settlement.  You would think I had learnt by now.  Still no money.   I was told they hoped to get finalisation by end `June or ~July at the very latest.   Having chased it up am now told the protocol is almost ready for submission.   I have had to drop to date 30,000 euros of the claim as The insurance are still trying it on.   Having been told if I dont agree I would have to go back to court at my expense and it could take another year I have accepted it but it would be nice if they just paid up and left us to get on with our life.  Surely they cant expect to drag this into 2015!!!!!!    The message is still there do not insure with these people under any circumstances.

sambanova 1406920846

I have read through all the threads and comments. What happened to you is  disgraceful, there does not seem any point in having insurance. I dont suppose you are allowed to post the name of your insurer?  Good and better luck for the future

maryjane-599094 1414268926

For those of you who might be interested.  After my last post I thought the settlement would be made by end July having received notification from my Advocat that she hoped to have finalised it by then.  End of July came and I duly received a letter from her and got all excited however, the letter contained the final application to the insurance company laying out they settlement agreement in legal terms.  Once again I had to delve into the details as each time I receive any form of legal document they have listed the settlement in a totally new way laying out some amounts added to other amounts till it is virtually impossible to work out what they are saying they will pay.    After a couple of days hard work I worked out than in principal it was okay except for the fact that they had added up the bills I had submitted for the work done and got the total wrong!!!!  Needless to say it was not in my favour.  I then realised that what the Advocat meant by finalisation was she was in a position to submit a formal paper.    Then total silence.    At the beginning of September I received notification that the insurance company had actually signed the agreement and it was forwarded to me to sign.   I did this immediately sending a letter saying I hoped I would receive settlement without delay.   I had no answer to this letter and we talked it through and I reckoned we would be lucky to get settlement by Christmas.   Well I have just received a letter from my Advocat stating she has received the cheque and it has to be paid into the clients account.  Under french law this payment (Cerfa) has to remain on the Advocat's client account for three weeks before she can send me a cheque from them.  She says she hopes she will be in a position to let me have a cheque in three weeks.  There is some ridiculous rule that the cheque can only be drawn on a thursday and only one cheque a week.  - dont ask I cant even begin to understand the system.   My only disappointment is that I have another bill for legal fees having thought this had all been settled.    There was a misunderstanding on the actual amount as they receive a bonus for a good result.   However, I cant really complain as if you take the vat off the bill it is far cheaper than would have been charged in England and it has certainly been a marathon.  So to recap the fire was on April 30th 2011 and if I get final payment by mid November that will be 3 years 7 months.    I cannot stress highly enough the importance of reading your policy and more than that make sure you understand it.  To my mind it is impertive to have included in your policy under the consecutive charges section which should be 15% of your total cover the provision of a contre expert. I have been in touch with several people who say their insurance companies do not offer this option.  Well then perhaps you should ask yourself why when it is the law to have your own contre expert.  Of course non of this matters if you dont have a claim but I would not wish my experience of the last three years on anyone and I had this cover.  If I had to foot the bill of legal representation myself it would have cost me over 30,000 euros for the expert and the advocat.   I am sure the fact that the insurance company realised it would be them paying these fees ( not all of the advocat fees) and not me that got settlement in the end.   Had I been responsible for the whole myself I am sure they would have seen this as a pressure on me to settle.   Our house is restored - I have to admit some of it I dont like - the burnt wooden floor and staircases whilst clean and nice are not as they were and grate on me each time I look at them.  Our oil paintings are not well restored but life goes on and at last we can put this whole sorry mess behind us.  One surprise I had was the paper I had to sign to get the final payment had a clause that I was not allowed to discuss the settlement amount terms with anyone!!!!!!!     Please take your house insurance seriously and if you dont think you can understand the french then get an interpreter it might be the best money you every spend.  Thank you to all those of you who have sent me very nice messages of support and encouragement.  A silver lining to this sorry affair is how many very nice people out there who are prepared to help and support someone in trouble.  

tickles-614539 1414322008

Well done maryjane.

A horror story from the start. A lesson for us all who have property in France.

You may recall you gave me some advice some months ago regarding a problem I had with an estate renting my house without my permission. Along story but now I have the house again minus many items, which have disappeared!!! With regard to legal fees etc and no rent received I lost out, but small bucks/ euros compaired to you.

Thank you again for our long telephone conversation on the matter. It realy helped me.

Wishing you all the best for the future.


maryjane-599094 1414356366

hi there   so glad to hear you have at least got your property back now.  There really are some scumbags around.  I suppose one has to put it all down to experience but I am really distrusting of people now.




Happy1 1521139343

Can anyone advise me of who the insurers were?

Iolanthe-611425 1521607157

Yes indeed..

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