Paul Wilkins writes about the importance of decennale insurance for artisans working in France.
Before moving to France I was a self employed electrician in the UK. When I registered with the Chambre de Metier in August 2012 my UK qualifications were recognised as suitable to allow me to register as an artisan electrician. With this registration there were obligations to my trade the main one being that I had to be suitably insured. I am therefore legally required to have decennale insurance, which clearly indicates what I am insured to do and what I am not insured to do. I am not, for example, insured for any work from the pole to the outside of the house, but I am insured to do work from the board inside the house. Equally I am not insured for photovolaitic installations or installations of eoliennes on roofs of houses, this requires another artisan with expertise in his or her domain. I am also legally required to clearly present both my siret number and decennale insurance number on my devis and factures.
Inclusions and exclusions on my assurance decennale are based on my current qualifications. This will differ from tradesman to tradesman depending on the extent of their training and proven workmanship. It is important and legally required, of course, that tradesmen work within their qualifications and therefore what they are insured to do and should never take on work for which they have no insurance cover as this could incur a large fine for both the artisan and the homeowner alike!
Decennale insurance is not cheap for the tradesman and again varies from trade to trade and depends on what the inclusions are. From a customers perspective when seeking a devis for the job you want carried out try to bear in mind the variation of pricing. Those who are appropriately registered and insured may differ greatly from someone who is not because of this insurance obligation, sure the cheaper artisan might save you money in the short term but you should ask yourself if you are willing to take on the long term risk of not being insured should something go wrong. It is also important to bear in mind that if you have work done on your property which has not been insured by the artisan and you should come to sell that property within the following ten years, then legally you are personally responsible for any mishaps resulting from said workmanship until the ten year deadline has passed – even if you have sold the house to someone else!
As the customer you have every right to ask to see insurance details and enquire what exactly the artisan is insured to carry out. This should particularly be the case if the devis you have received makes no mention of certain obligations such as your siret and decennale insurance details as this suggests they may not have them.
As an electrician, safety is paramount. I take my profession seriously and I want my customers to feel that they have every confidence in the work that I do from a new installation to putting in a new socket. A customer has every right to check my details whether that’s calling the Chambre de Metier or using sites like infogreffe to check my registration along with calling my insurance company to see what I am insured for and if I’m still insured. These details are made available on my website – so a potential client will be taken straight to infogreffe and can contact my insurers.
I am often been asked about my insurance and whether I am qualified, and I am always more than happy to present my carte professionelle and decennale attestation, I think it’s particularly important to do this for my Expat clients who may not be as informed of their legal requirements when having work done on their French properties. I prefer to make sure that they can go to sleep at night being confident that not only have I completed a qualified and competent job but they are also fully covered under my decennale (Ten year insurance ).