Why insure your forest?
Because the forest is an asset with real value, which will vary according to a number of criteria such as the wood species, wood quality and the soils, it is important to insure it.
Also, because all forest owners are liable for damage caused by their trees, including bodily harm, it is vital to insure it!
Insuring your forest
It is a key precaution though not always fully understood by forest owners in France, who together own a total 12.5 million hectares. In fact, only 5% of the private forest is insured, i.e. less than a million hectares.
Insurance underpins the sound management and operation of your forest and should be taken into account in your overall business approach. It is a decision that requires good support and advice. There are several aspects to your forest insurance.
Third party liability
You must never forget that forest owners are liable for the damage caused by the trees on their property, e.g. fallen branches.
Employees working on a forest operation can also hold the forest owner liable if they cause damage of any kind.
N.B. The financial consequences can be very high (millions of euros for a seriously injured person, for example) for forest owners who are held solely liable in the eyes of the law, even in forests and woodlands that are not open to the public!
If one of your trees falls on a railway or road, you are required to cover the repairs and inconvenience incurred. The bill can soon add up so it is worth knowing that the most economical way of insuring your forest is by joining a union of forest owners. Very often, membership of the union includes the cost of third party liability insurance.
A third party liability policy is essential for all forest owners!
Fire/storm or Fire insurance
Beyond civil liability, you can also protect your forest with Fire and Storm insurance policies. Depending on the quality of the wood, species and soil, it is worth taking a good look at the insurance issue: in France, storms and droughts cause an increasing amount of damage all year round.
Two insurance products are available:
- Fire insurance
- Fire/storm insurance
The Federation of Private Forest Owners in France has entered into a partnership with the Verspieren brokers and introduced a very attractive offer for all forest owners who are Federation members. Sylvassur is a product from the Federation’s subsidiary, ‘Forestiers Privés de France Services’ (FPFS).
It is an insurance product that offers several types of policy: Fire+Storm or Fire only. Depending on the species, wood quality and their resources, forest owners can request their own personalized formula. In fact, you can insure your forest for a value of between €500/ha and €25,000/ha.
Pacifica-XLB also provides insurance for forests and natural spaces in France.
Deemed to be an ‘insurable’ product, the French forest no longer benefits from a special natural disaster regime in the event of destruction. The 1999 storm triggered something of a revolution among insurers who lost years’ worth of premiums, and among the public powers who can no longer cover this kind of damage.
Insurers were forced to adapt but managed to make their voices heard. Xavier de La Bretesche from XLB can rely on a sound network of partners and works hard alongside the authorities to take legislation forward. In his view, the forest economy has to take the insurance issue on-board and he firmly intends to change things. Ten or so years ago, Xavier de la Bretesche’s idea of including forest insurance in the DEFI scheme budget made it possible to fund forest insurance from revenue earned from a category other than the forest itself, which was a major step forward.
The law is changing again today but one thing is sure: Storm and Fire insurance is now more relevant than ever!