Decennial liability insurance - a guide to european builders

This guide is planned to help you prepare your project when subscribing an insurance contract decennial liability to cover your activity during the achievement of a construction in France. Its purpose is to explain and to draw your attention on the insurance coverage that is necessary and obligatory to exercise your activity in France.


The Civil Law Decennial Liability

The Insurance Decennial liability for foreign contractors is a legal obligation that has been introduced in French law since 1978. The Spinetta law concerns all companies who perform work on the French territory. Thus, the decennial insurance is applied everywhere in France, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion, Mayotte and in many other countries. Once the assignment is made in France, you have the obligation to subscribe a decennial insurance. The validity period of this insurance runs until ten years after delivery.

What is Decennial Liability?

The decennial liability insurance is a guarantee financed by the promoter. It offers to the owner, the guarantee that he will be compensated over 10 years following the completion of works in case of construction problems. Decennial liability is a responsibility that is applied to construction projects in some foreign countries. As the name implies, this liability lasts for at least ten years after project completion and handover. Decennial liability applies to any party considered as a builder including contractors, architects, engineers and other professionals who contract with the building owner to work on the project.

Who is concerned?

Decennial liability insurance concerns all companies who work on buildings on the French territory like builders (entrepreneur, real estate developer, developer, contractor, architect, engineer, engineering office, engineering consulting), technicians (structural work, roofing, carpentry, plumbing, electricity) involving in the construction of a new or existing work. This obligation also applies to foreign professionals working in the construction sector, which must be able to justify their warranty covers of the decennial liability under the French law for contracts performed in France.

When do we subscribe a decennial liability?

The decennial liability insurance must be subscribed before starting any construction. At the inception of any project, the professional concerned should be able to produce documentary proof stated that he has been covered to decennial liability insurance.

Builders, what are your responsibilities?

The concept of decennial liability is derived from the French Civil Code of 1804. In its simplest form, it protects you against liability for damages resulting from defects for a period of 10 years after work completion.

Decennial responsibility covers defects that have been accepted on delivery by the builder. The responsibilities are enforced both on those who design and those who execute the works.


Subcontractors who don't have a direct connection with the project manager are not subject to obligatory decennial insurance scheme. However they remain beholden to the contractor and therefore should be insured accordingly.

Coverage field of decennial liability

Following completion and handover, defects can arise during the life of a building in the structural frame, cladding, foundations or other components. This can be an area of great concern to employers, developers, tenants, and other parties with an interest in securing the long term protection of their investment in a new building project. It will take some time when trying to recover the full cost of repairs as this will require the damage to be covered under permanent building insurances or proof stating that a professional consultant or contractor is legally liable to pay for repairs. Change of ownership and lack of contractual relationships complicate the issues and often consultants and contractors do not have adequate insurance at the time of loss to cover the repairs.

The purpose of the ten-year guarantee contract

The insurance contract Decennial Liability is intended to cover the responsibility of builders: The contracting authority and successive owners for ten years after works delivery and the cost of repairing any damage affecting the solidity of the work or rendering it unfit for its purpose. The insured has the right to claim reimbursement for damages at work from his liability insurance.

Essential guarantees of decennial insurance

Essential guarantees cover building repairs when fault is committed by the insured such as the disorders that compromise the solidity of the structure and which make it unsuitable for its purpose.

Subscribers of the decennial liability

  • •  All people considered as builders under Article 1792-1 of the Civil Code are affected by the decennial insurance:
  • •  The contractors, subcontractors and other contracting landlords
  • •  Enterprises
  • •  Architects
  • •  Project Managers
  • •  Promoters
  • •  House Builders
  • •  Technicians

Why is the decennial liability insurance compulsory for foreign companies?

The ten-year guarantee is compulsory in France. Foreign companies wishing to carry on a construction activity on the French territory must subscribe to decennial liability insurance. They are thus subject to the same obligations as domestic companies.