Steps to Take if You’ve Suffered Losses Due to the Cumbre Vieja Volcano in La Palma

23 June 2022 - Stefan Meyer | Fernando González Romero

The following figures reflect the repercussions of the volcanic eruption on the island of La Palma:

  • 85 days of eruption.
  • 159 million cubic meters of lava (rough estimate).
  • 1,219 hectares of covered land (equivalent to 1,707 football fields).
  • 73.8 kilometres of roads buried.
  • 2,988 affected buildings.


Stefan Meyer Abogado & Rechtsanwalt +34 91 319 96 86

Affected property owners should pay attention to the following points:

1. First steps required to safeguard and secure property rights or other rights.

  1. Proving ownership of real estate affected by the volcanic eruption requires documentation certifying ownership and a description of the physical features of the property. In some cases, documents that prove the ownership or other in rem rights have been destroyed along with the property.A certification of the real estate can be obtained from the Property Registries, which will allow to prove ownership and other pre-existing rights.
  1. It is also important to take the cadastral description of the property into account, as it is relevant for the application of taxes such as the Spanish annual real estate tax (IBI), inheritance and gift taxes, or the tax on property transfers, most of which are currently subsidized due to the situation of the affected properties (this would have to be examined on a case-by-case basis).
  1. In order to rectify differences between the information in the property registry and the cadastre or differences regarding the physical reality of the property and register entries, the person concerned may contact the cadastral office or the property registry.At the cadastral office, the georeferenced, graphic representation of the property can be registered and reconciled with the information in the cadastre.

    Various procedures can be used in the property registry, depending on the circumstances: Determination of the boundaries of the land in the property registry, correction of the description of the land, registration of new buildings or so-called improvements to the land, initial registration of land not yet registered in favour of an owner, application for continuation of the interrupted registration sequence (the land in the name of a person can be registered in the name of a third acquirer, even if the intermediate owners have not registered their acquisition titles), application for rectification of a double or multiple registration, application for rectification of encumbrances and charges that are time-barred, forfeited or unused.

  1. Valid documentation as evidence of ownership or other rights in rem, that may include any documentation such as payment receipts for the Spanish real estate tax (IBI) or other evidence such as construction licenses, government concessions, hereditary building rights or, if applicable, private agreements on plots of land, water rights, etc.

2. Proving the amount of damage

In cases of personal injury and cases of destruction or damage to properties directly caused by the volcanic eruption, various forms of aid will be granted by government agencies at different levels. It would be necessary to study on a case-by-case basis the aid that may be available.

In order to prove these damages, it is possible to obtain a certificate from the competent body of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands which states the destruction of the dwelling and its estimated former value or gives an assessment of the damage the property has suffered.

3. Different aids and/or subsidies

There are aids and subsidies available for individuals and public or private entities whose properties or rights located on the island of La Palma have been damaged as a direct – or even indirect – result of the volcanic eruptions. These include, for example, state aid for total destruction of the primary residence amounting to 60,480 euros, for structural damage to the primary residence up to 41,280 euros and, for other kinds of damage to the principal residence up to 20,640 euros. Furthermore, in the event of damage to elements of shared use in communities of real estate co-owners, up to 36,896 euros can be granted.

In addition, the government of the Canary Islands has announced additional aid of up to 30,000 euros for people who have lost their primary place of residence in the volcanic eruption on La Palma.

  1. Aids for owners of a primary residence: The amount of this aid will vary according to the extent of the damage, whether the primary residence is completely destroyed, it has structural damages or only damage that does not affect its structure.

To be eligible for aid for primary residence, the minimum requirement is to be the owner of the property affected by the eruption of the volcano and to use it as your main residence or that of family members.

  1. Aid is also granted for damage to shared elements in a community of co-owners.
  1. Other aids are available for:
    • Buildings, installations or equipment used for business.
    • Aids for local corporations for incurred expenses.
    • Suspension of interest and principal payment obligations for
    • credits with and without mortgage security.
    • Pension plan participants may exercise their vested rights
    • Direct aid to owners of agricultural holdings.
    • Direct aid to the fisheries and fish farming sector.

Applications for the granting of aid will be processed and resolved by the Government Delegation in the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands.

The application procedures for the granting of aid or subsidies to cover needs arising from emergency or disaster situations are handled using specific forms and can be done in person or online.

4. Insured properties

Insurance companies consider volcanic eruptions, such as the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Island of La Palma, to be an extraordinary risk, and according to Spanish insurance regulations, damage caused by this type of natural phenomenon would not be covered.

Therefore, a public body, the Consorcio de Compensación de Seguros (CCS, the Spanish reinsurance consortium) indemnifies losses arising from extraordinary events in Spain and, in the case we are dealing with here, from natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions.

Thus, if an affected property was insured, the corresponding compensation can be claimed from the CCS. It must be taken into account that “extraordinary events” must be explicitly insured in the policy, that the loss must be a consequence of direct damage to the insured property and that this property must belong to or be at the disposal of the insured person.

In addition, the consortium must be able to identify, analyse and quantify the actual extent of the lava damage, which is why it is particularly important to file an application for compensation that is as complete and well-founded as possible.

The consortium has already paid 201.4 million euros in compensation to those affected by the eruption of the volcano on La Palma. However, it has not been able to admit certain compensation claims, for instance because there was a statutory waiting period of seven days between the conclusion of the insurance contract and the date on which the damage to the insured object occurred. In the case of some applicants, this period had not yet elapsed.

Finally, it should be noted that even if an affected person has been compensated by the CCS, a financial aid of up to 7 percent of the compensable damage can be granted.

If you have further questions, please contact us at one of the following email addresses:

[email protected]
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Perspectives on future real estate policies in La Palma

At present, the main priorities in La Palma are reconstruction and economic and social reactivation. Within this framework of action, infrastructure reconstruction measures are particularly important, with a focus on roads, urban planning and land development.

By Royal Decree of 8 June 2002, Héctor Fernando Izquierdo Triana was appointed Special Commissioner for the Reconstruction of the Island of La Palma.

While the restoration of road links and infrastructure is urgently needed, it would adversely affect residents whose properties are expropriated for new road alignments.

t is up to the authorities to decide what to do with the new areas of hardened lava fields, whether this land should be placed under special protection or used for new development areas.

Against this background, it is advisable to accurately identify properties as mentioned above in the first section and to keep in touch with the relevant authorities in order to stay informed about the steps that are being taken and the regulations that are being approved.