Spokesmen for France’s insurance industry have indicated that it will speed up claims processing in order to pay for damages to vehicles and property resulting from the urban violence that has rocked France for over two weeks (See IJ Website Nov.7).
In an interview Thursday, Nov. 10, on French radio’s Europe-1, Economic Minister Thierry Breton declared that the insurance industry should be able to pay almost all of the claims related to the violence “dans les meilleurs délais,” i.e. as soon as possible. Breton explained that representatives of the insurance industry had given him their personal assurances that they would do so.
A related confirmation came from Jean-Luc Le Boissieu, Secretary General of the Groupement des entreprises mutuelles d’assurances (Gema), a trade association that acts on behalf of France’s mutual insurers, who write a majority of the country’s mandatory auto coverage. In a video interview, broadcast on Yahoo France, he indicated that Gema members would pay all auto claims, regardless of whether the insured carried all risk coverage, as quickly as possible. Fire and theft coverage is standard in French auto policies. He also said the carriers would waive any deductible amounts.
Commenting on vehicle losses due to arson, Le Boissieu said they would be paid immediately, as “no expert is needed for burned cars.” Claims related to vandalism – rocks, clubs, etc. – would take longer, he indicated, as experts needed to assess the cost of repairs. He also said he believes that the impact on the French insurance industry will be minimal, “unless”, he stressed, “the violence continues.”
A trio of French insurance executives, speaking in a joint interview on Radio Classique, put the insured loss estimates at around €200 million ($234 million) so far. This figure, however, includes property damage to government buildings and vehicles – mainly schools, police stations, post offices and buses – which are covered by a separate government backed mutual insurer.
Things have quieted down a bit, but there were still 463 cars set on fire last night, Nov. 10, 111 in the Paris region. Police arrested 201 people. Curfews have been imposed in a number of areas that have experienced troubles, and the sale of gasoline in portable containers has been prohibited in cities and towns hit by violence, including Paris.
Since the beginning of the disturbances, 1.893 persons, suspected of committing violent acts, have been taken into custody. 364 have been charged with crimes – 291 adults and 73 juveniles. 260 have already been sentenced.
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