Home insurance: how does the expertise work?

Verified 14 December 2021 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

If you have a catastrophic water damage or fire, the insurer may decide to have an assessment carried out before compensating you. The role of the expert is to establish the circumstances of the disaster, assess the damage and offer compensation. If the expert report is not suitable for you, you can request a counter-expert report, but it will be at your expense.

Expertise is mandatory in some cases. For example, if it is a technological disaster causing significant damage.

In other cases, expertise is not mandatory. Thus, for example, in most water damage.

It's the insurance company that decides whether or not expertise is needed.

Typically, the expert will travel to the site to see the damage and try to determine the cause of the disaster.

He can also make his observation from photos, without personally going to the site of the disaster.

He writes an expert report.

The report serves as the basis for the insurance to offer you compensation.

The report shall include the following:

  • Circumstances of the disaster
  • Property damaged in the disaster
  • Assessment of damage sustained
  • Repair Terms (Replacement or Repair)

Choice by insurer or judge

The expert is usually appointed by the insurer.

But when a case is brought before the courts, the judge chooses the expert. It is then a forensic expert.

Choice by insured person

If you are not satisfied with the expertise provided by the insurance expert, you can request a second opinion.

It will be done by another expert you can choose.

The insurer pays the expert he has appointed.

However, if you have requested a second expert opinion, it is possible that the costs of this second expert opinion will be borne by you.

Some contracts provide for the guarantee expert fees, which shall reimburse the cost of the expert's report, within the limits laid down in the contract.

Where an expert is appointed by the judge, the judgment shall indicate who is to pay the costs of the expert's examination.

The expert chosen by your insurer is not legally obliged to send you his report.

However, if the insurer uses the expert report to refuse you compensation, you can ask them to consult it.

If the insurer refuses, you can to take legal action in order for the judge to oblige the insurer to communicate the expert report as part of the procedure.

You must provide the expert, at his request, with all the supporting documents that can enable him to evaluate the damaged property or properties. For example, invoices, warrants, or photos of items that disappeared in the claim.