After the time of storms, that of administration. In Brittany last Friday, Emmanuel Macron spoke out to “restore normal life as quickly as possible” by activating the state of natural disaster “wherever we can do so”. A reassuring statement for the approximately 120,000 victims. This figure is expected to rise further in the coming days. “There are undoubtedly many requests that have not yet been made, because the electricity is cut, the telephone has not yet been restored,” warned the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire this Tuesday morning. Before reiterating the promise made by the head of the executive to the victims of the floods in Hauts-de-France: “For all places where there have been floods, there may be a regime of natural disasters”.
So a possibility. Because the natural disaster recognition procedure is a long administrative affair, where there are numerous validations and stamps. And if the green light from the president can accelerate things, no less than seven mandatory steps separate the victim from their reparation check. An administrative way of the cross where victims, mayors, prefects, ministers and insurers meet.
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The play opens with the declaration of disaster. As soon as the extraordinary weather event ends, victims must report the incident to their insurance company and the damage suffered to the town hall. It’s the councilor’s turn to enter the scene. He has eighteen months to send an official request to the prefect for recognition of the state of disaster. Accompanied by a crowd of experts, the prefect then takes to the stage. Their role: prepare technical reports (meteorological, hydrological, hydrogeological, geotechnical, etc.) and transmit the complete file to the Ministry of the Interior. Subsequently, an interministerial commission (bringing together Interior, Finance, Budget, Agriculture, Housing, etc., as the case may be) is responsible for studying the request and validating it. The latter meets monthly, or exceptionally if necessary. A decree recognizing or not recognizing the state of natural disaster is taken jointly by the ministers (Interior, Finance and Budget) and published in the Official Journal. The state of natural disaster is then recognized for the entire municipality and its inhabitants. End of act one.
The rest is less stormy. Once the decree is published, the prefecture notifies its publication to the mayors, who in turn inform the victims. It’s time: the insurer must finally pay the compensation. The owner of the damaged property then receives a sum within the limit of the guarantees taken out, “only for the goods covered by the “property damage” contract”, specifies the website of the Northern prefecture. The amount of the transfer is initially determined by the insured, who has ten days from the publication of the decree, to send his insurance company an estimate of the damage and a copy of the decree. Once the estimate has been validated by both parties, insurers have three months to compensate for direct, uninsurable material damage linked to the event.