Written by majority MP Sandra Marsaud and ecologist Sandrine Rousseau, the report aims to improve insurance coverage of the risk of shrinkage-swelling of clays, which threatens more than one in two houses in France.

Clay soils settle during droughts and swell with moisture, a phenomenon that can cause cracks to appear on buildings with shallow foundations, typically single-family homes, causing very expensive work.

Of the 19.4 million houses in the France, 10.1 million are exposed to clay risk, 3.1 million of which are high.

The regions most at risk are located in a "clay crescent" from the Var to the Centre-Val de Loire via the Garonne basin; Lorraine and a large part of Ile-de-France are also concerned.

The rapporteurs note that droughts, whose frequency and intensity are worsening with global warming, are increasingly expensive for insurance: €1 billion per year since 2016, compared to an average of €500 million between 2000 and 2015.

However, nearly three-quarters of the victims are not compensated, either because of the lack of a natural disaster order issued in their municipality, or because their insurance has not established a link between the drought and the cracks.

MEPs are therefore proposing several measures to make more households eligible for compensation.

The additional cost of these measures would be financed, they hope, by increasing the insurance "surcharge" allocated to the national compensation system for natural disasters. This premium would in future be automatically adjusted according to the cost of disasters in previous years.

This measure would bring in some 700 million euros and would cost "less than 10 euros per insured" for individuals, according to MEPs.

They also recommend increasing the rest of the cost of the work for the insured, allowing the State to make up it in certain cases, for example to help low-income households.

They also want builders to pay for cracks that appear within 10 years of building the houses.

© 2023 AFP