One of the most common types of insurance coverage in France is car insurance. If you have a vehicle in France and want to drive there, you are legally required to carry minimum liability insurance. This is the case even if you do not intend to drive.
In France, car insurance is compulsory for all residents. It is also required for EU citizens to have a French number plate. You may be able to use your home country’s insurance, but you should consider getting one for your stay in France.
According to a 2016 statistics report, France has the second-largest car insurance market in Europe, right behind the UK. There are over 90 companies providing auto insurance in the country. The Autorite de Controle Prudentiel et de Resolution (ACPR), an arm of the Banque de France, regulates the French insurance market.
All motor vehicles in France must be insured to at least third-party liability. It is required that you do this even for vehicles that are not in use unless all four wheels are removed. Under the law, failure to insure a vehicle can lead to fines of up to €3,700.
However, in France, car insurance covers the vehicle rather than the driver, meaning that other licensed drivers can drive your car if the policy allows it.
This insurance policy is applied to every vehicle, therefore every car in France needs to be separately insured. Nevertheless, many insurance companies offer discounted rates for a second car or multiple car insurance.
Types of car insurance in France
Luckily, there are three types of car insurance in France –
- and collision.
Third-party covers the damage and injury caused to other people and their property if you have an accident. You must also make sure to include passengers in the policy. In 2016, the average annual premium for car insurance in France was EUR400, the fifth highest in the EU, and more than double the EU average.
Comprehensive covers all risks including damage to your car caused by an accident that was your fault. It is also known as the ‘all-risk’ policy, this is a good choice of coverage if you drive a new or expensive car, are a frequent driver, or have any risks associated with your driving.
Collision is the minimum amount of insurance that you need under French law. This insures against damage and injury to all third parties in incidents where you are at fault. This includes passengers in your car.
Third-party insurance won’t cover any of your own costs, for example, the cost of repairing any damage to your own vehicle. It is a good type of insurance to have if you drive an inexpensive car or only drive occasionally.
Although tous risques policies are comprehensive, most come with exclusions so check what these are before signing. Usually, they are related to intentional damage or incidents that occur when the vehicle is illegally parked.
Tous risk policies, however, can cost anywhere from EUR600 to EUR900 a year, and many policies allow you to increase your excess in exchange for a discount on your premiums. Some companies offer breakdown cover without any excess. In that case, you would need to pay a higher premium than normal, but you would have better coverage if you have higher excess.
Other Forms Of Car Insurance In France
You can insure your car with a variety of optional insurance policies. Comprehensive policies frequently include these, but if you’re unsure, read the fine print beforehand. In France, additional car insurance includes:
- Medical insurance: covers the costs of medical treatment in the event of an accident, as well as death or disability costs in the case of serious accidents.
- Legal insurance: pays for the costs of legal representation and advice in the event of an incident.
- Breakdown assistance: pays for repairs and towing in the event of a roadside breakdown.
- Equipment insurance: covers the costs of any equipment and belongings in the car up to a certain amount, such as luggage or a car stereo.
- No-claims protection: safeguards your no-claims bonus in the event of an accident.
Top Car insurance companies in France
Overall, there are around 90 car insurance companies in France. These include:
In France, the average car insurance premium per year was EUR400, the fifth highest in the EU. Although the average premium per year is higher in France, it is lower than the EU average. Moreover, you should be aware that the costs for an annual Tous risques policy can vary considerably.
Regardless of your budget, you should make sure that you fully understand the terms and conditions before signing up for an insurance policy. The most important thing to remember when choosing a policy is to make sure you have adequate coverage.
How To Choose Car Insurance In France
You should compare different policies when looking for car insurance in France and make sure you find the best deal that is suited to your circumstances. Here are a few things you should consider besides premium costs:
- The Policy coverage – Check what is included and what isn’t? Check for exclusions and read the terms & conditions. In a case where anything you need is not covered, what is the cost of adding this on?;
- Excess options – what is the cost of the excess and how much can you reduce your premiums by increasing it voluntarily?;
- The Claims process – Consider how easy is it to make a claim? Will you have to pay upfront to get reimbursed or will the insurer take care of payments directly?;
- Company reputation – check the company’s ratings and customer reviews to see what feedback has been given;
- Roadside assistance – Check if the company offers a good breakdown assistance policy?
In France, there are many insurance companies that offer breakdown cover. Some policies will even include breakdown cover as part of a comprehensive policy. Good policies will cover towing and emergency repair, as well as replacement transport. You should also ensure that you are insured for repatriation if you are driving abroad.
While it is important to consider the costs of breakdown cover, it is essential to keep in mind that you should only take this into account if you are planning to drive in France for an extended period.
As for the amount of premiums, there are two basic types of insurance in France: comprehensive and Tous risks. Both types of insurance cover are vital for you to be legally protected in the country.
You should also check the type of coverage you need. In France, compulsory access is equivalent to EUR100, and you must pay this in the event of a claim. In other countries, compulsory access is a mandatory part of Tous Risks policies.
Making A Car Insurance Claim In France
Steps to follow If you need to make a car insurance claim in France :
- Make sure you complete both your insurance claim form and your EU accident statement form – ensuring that both/all parties sign the form in the event of an accident – and send it to your insurer within 5 days;
- Ensure to take the details of any other parties involved in the accident, e.g. names, addresses, license plate numbers;
- Also, take photos and get statements from any witnesses present at the scene of an accident;
- Most importantly, contact the police and emergency medical services in the event of a serious accident.
Then you can submit any photos and witness statements to support your insurance claim.
In a case of an event of theft, you should report it immediately to the police and file an insurance claim within two days (if you have the necessary coverage). However, insurance companies in France will wait 30 days before paying out on claims relating to stolen cars.
When Canceling A Contract Or Changing provider
When canceling an insurance contract in France is generally more difficult than in many other European countries. This has become easier in recent years because car insurance in France is compulsory, policies will auto-renew after the initial 12 months and will do this every year unless you cancel.
Upon signing a contract, you have an initial 14-day period where you can cancel without being penalized. After which, you can only cancel within the final two months of the first year unless the reasons are the sale of the vehicle or the death of the policyholder.
However, it is possible to cancel a contract within the first year. You can do so no earlier than two months but not later than 15 days before the contract expiry date. After the period of the first 12 months has elapsed, you can cancel at any time. The insurance company will end the contract one month after receiving notice of cancellation and will refund any payments made beyond this period.
You will need to send a letter of cancellation to your insurer. Many companies nowadays allow this to be done by email, otherwise, you can send a letter in the post.
When it comes to changing insurance providers, you are free to change insurance providers in France. So it’s wise to shop around each year. Meanwhile, some companies may offer to take care of the administration if you are signing over to them. If such an administrative offer is not available, just cancel your old policy and sign up with your new provider. Importantly, make sure that you don’t leave a coverage gap because you’ll be breaking the law!
Car Insurance Bonuses And Penalties In France
France uses the no-claims bonus system, which is used in many other countries. No-claims deductions accumulate at a rate of 5% per year, and it takes 13 years of no-fault driving to earn the full 50% no-claims bonus.
As a result, some drivers choose to pay directly for damage they cause in order to avoid higher premiums. You should think carefully before doing this because you will be waiving your right to file an insurance claim later on. If the repair costs exceed your expectations, you may be out of pocket.
Another option is to pay extra for no-claims coverage on your insurance policy.
As long as you can provide proof, most companies will allow you to transfer no-claims bonuses earned with another insurer. Insurance companies are less likely to allow you to transfer no-claims periods from an overseas insurer, but some may be willing to do so, so it’s worth negotiating.
While not claiming can help you save money on insurance, insurers can raise your premiums dramatically if they believe you are a high-risk driver. This may occur if you:
- have been involved in an accident in which you were at fault;
- receive points on your French driver’s license for violations such as speeding or drunk driving;
- you are a new or inexperienced driver
Making A Complaint Regarding A French Car Insurance Provider
If you want to make a complaint about a French insurance company, for example, if you are dissatisfied with a product or believe you have been treated unfairly, you should first try to resolve the issue through the insurance company’s complaints department.
Your insurance company should have a complaints procedure that is detailed on their website or in documentation provided to you. You must follow this procedure and allow the company 15 days to respond.
If you do not receive a satisfactory response, you may file a complaint with La Mediation de l’assurance, an independent body that evaluates insurance complaints in France. This can be done either online or by mail.
The majority of policies offer no-claims protection. This means you must pay the first EUR100 of the amount you pay when making a claim. In France, the costs of this type of insurance are higher than the average, but they are a reasonable investment.
For car insurance in France, you can choose from several types of policies. Then, there are other types of coverage that cover the damages caused by theft, accidents, or other damage. The average premium for a Tous risks policy is typically EUR600-900.
Some policies offer no-claims protection. The first time a claim is made, it will cost you a further EUR100, which is the equivalent of compulsory access.
In addition to offering an extensive range of plans, all-risk policies in France come with different exclusions and requirements. In the case of a comprehensive policy, the maximum amount you can claim is EUR3750.
In France, you should also consider compulsory access and excess. This means you have to pay the first EUR100 if you are involved in an accident. These types of policies will cover you in the event of an accident or theft, but you will need to pay the first part of the bill.
Can you use car insurance from another country in France?
As long as the insurance meets the basic standards in France, non-residents from other countries can drive foreign cars protected by insurance from their home country. To demonstrate that you have adequate vehicle coverage, you need to present a green card.
If you live in France full-time, you are legally required to purchase car insurance in France and give your car a number plate that displays your address in France. Citizens of nations that are members of the EU can keep using their health insurance from their home country.
Is car insurance mandatory in France?
In France, all motor vehicles are required to have at least third-party liability insurance. Unless all four wheels are removed from the car, you will be required to execute this procedure even for vehicles not currently being used. Getting fined up to €3,750 for driving without vehicle insurance is possible.
Does my car insurance cover me to drive in France?
You are required by law to carry at least third-party liability insurance, but this type of insurance does not pay for damages or medical bills that you may suffer as a consequence of an accident. Before you get on the road, double-check that your insurance policy covers everything and that you have the necessary paperwork.
Can I insure my English car in France?
The European car insurance market is not comparable to that of other parts of the world. Insurers in the United Kingdom believe that a person’s UK car insurance policy can be invalid once that person establishes residency in France. You will need to look for an insurer in France if you have just moved here from the United Kingdom with a car that drives on the right and has license plates from that country.
Can I take my car to France after Brexit?
After the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, you will still be able to use your British driver’s license to go on vacation in France as long as you also have an International Driving Permit (if you do not hold a mainland UK license). If you are operating your car, you must obtain a valid Green Card insurance certificate.