PRACTICAL LIFE: You have to be vigilant about a contractor’s insurance certificate

The client of a contractor must be vigilant about the latter’s insurance, but he is justified in believing that his very general insurance certificate covers all his professional risks.

This certificate would indeed be misleading, according to the Court of Cassation, if a particular clause of the contract excluding a guarantee, of which this customer is not aware, could be opposed to him in the event of a claim.

Justice had been seized by an individual after work to extend his house. Judging that the result was affected by serious defects, he had seized the company’s insurer directly, as permitted by law, but this insurer then withdrew, explaining that a clause in the contract limited the guarantee to the sole risk of collapse.

This attitude was considered misleading by the Court of Cassation because the certificate drafted in general terms actually concealed from this client a lack of company guarantee for numerous professional risks. The customer was therefore entitled to seek compensation from this insurer, the court concluded.

In March 2016, the Court had ruled that a building contractor could not be insured against serious and costly errors that appeared during construction, before the entry into force of the ten-year guarantee, but these exclusions of guarantees must be precisely brought to the attention of her client, she says today.

(Cass. Civil 3, 11.5.2022, K 20-17.293).

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