Ensure building work insured – Assurance decennale

Your building work insured – Assurance decennale. There are two insurance policies that anyone contemplating building work in France should be aware of.

Both exist to protect the client:

  • Assurance DecennaleA legal obligation on all consultants and contractors
  • Assurance Dommage OuvrageIn certain circumstances a legal obligation for the client


Decennale assurance is a legal obligation for a project manager – it is there to protect the client

Without a valid decennale it is the client who is at the greatest risk – not the project manager

Employing a builder who does not have valid decennale assurance is illegal in France
For more on builders insurance click here


Decennial Liability is a strict liability in France and applies to all architects, project managers, consultants, contractors and sub-contractors. It is a legal obligation and not open to interpretation. All coverages are standard and non-negotiable as laid down by law. This insurance provides the owner with protection should anything go wrong with a build or renovation project.


What is Assurance Decennale?

An insurance policy that guarantees that the completed building will be fit for purpose, for the 10 year period following hand-over. Principals are under a legal obligation to hold decennale assurance that will cover the cost of repair or damage.


What does the Project Manager decennale cover?

A Maitre d’Oeuvre (project manager) in France is legally obliged to be fully insured and be in possession of a valid and up to date French Decennale. Notoriously difficult to get and prohibitively expensive – this is the owners guarantee that all works undertaken are covered by a ten year guarantee.  The Maitre d’Oeuvre’s decennale is the first port of call should there be any dispute between contractors as to liability for anything that has gone wrong with a project.


How do I know if a Project Manager is legally permitted to manage my renovation or build?

Any legal, registered and licensed Maitre d’Oeuvre will provide you with a copy of their decennale upon request. Failure to provide evidence of a decennale should set the alarm bells ringing.  The decennale should state that the Maitre d’Oeuvre is covered for:

  • OPC: Ordonnancement, Pilotage, Construction
  • DET: Direction de l’Execution des Travaux
  • AOR: Assistance aux Operations de Reception

If your project manager cannot provide a copy of this he is not insured as a maitrre d’oeuvre in France. This may be due to refusal of insurance or a reluctance to pay the very high premiums.  The absence of decennale assurance places the owner at risk.


Does Simon Jones have Decennale Assurance?

Yes. A copy is available upon request.


Does Simon Jones have any further insurances?

Yes. Simon Jones also holds a separate Public Liability Insurance policy. A copy is available on request.


What is Assurance Dommage Ouvrage?

Unlike the asssurance decennale (a policy paid for by consultants and contractors) the dommage ouvrage is a policy paid for by the owner of a property. It is a form of insurance that, among other coverage, promises to come into effect the moment a dispute arises as to liability. The dommage ouvrage promises to fund the continuance of a project whilst investigations to establish liability take place and whilst disputes between insurers as to liability are settled.


Is it a legal obligation to have Assurance Dommage Ouvrage?

In certain circumstances it is a legal obligation for the owner to have a valid assurance Dommage Ouvrage policy.  An example would be for any structural work that is proposed within a copropriété.

Where required, legally or voluntarily, assurance dommage ouvrage can be difficult to obtain and must be in place prior to works commencing.  It cannot be issued once work has commenced and cannot be issued retrospectively.  It is a matter that will be advised upon by the architect and the project manager early in the planning process to avoid any unnecessary delays.