The French State owned cathedral was self-insured as there isn’t coverage available for priceless artwork and structures.
The devastating and heartbreaking Notre Dame fire was watched from around the world. Thoughts and prayers poured in to Paris expressing sympathy for the loss of so much of the historical and religious structure.
At the same time, many were asking who would have to foot the bill to have it rebuilt.
The cathedral was 856 years old at the time of the Notre Dame fire. It was irreplaceable unto itself but also contained many invaluable and irreplaceable historical and religious artifacts. Due to this combination, there simply isn’t an insurance product available from conventional insurers in order to cover it. Therefore, the French State, which owns the cathedral and all religious structures constructed before 1905, self-insured it.
As a result, to answer the commonly asked question, France itself was essentially on the hook for the entire cost of any repairs or reconstructions it chose to take on. Notre Dame itself had no traditional insurance coverage at all.
“The French State is self-insured for Notre Dame. It has no insurance. It is supposed to cover its own costs,” said spokesperson Paul Gadel according to a MarketWatch report. Gadel went on to add that France “is charged with maintenance and renovation of those buildings, which it lends to the Church for free.”
French billionaires and companies have pledged to pay millions to cover the Notre Dame fire rebuilding.
Though France itself is officially the one that would need to cover the cost of rebuilding Notre Dame after the fire, it is far from alone in having to foot the bill. Billionaires and large companies from across the country had already pledged more than €700 million within the first 24 hours after the blaze started.
According to Reuters figures, this amount only scratches the surface of the total sum required to rebuild the 12th century cathedral. Despite the fact that much of the priceless artwork and relics it contained were saved, it is still expected to cost as much as $8 billion with a construction length of twenty years or more.
That said, French President Macron has already promised to have it rebuilt in five years. The lack of coverage in the face of the Notre Dame fire is not uncommon in France. “Buildings of this sort of cultural importance are often covered by the state,” explained Hiscox insurance company’s head of art and private client, Robert Read. “The French state is huge, bigger than any insurer, so they are likely to self-insure not only the building but also the important artifacts it contained.”