Driving a car is a common thing almost everyone does daily. Cars are everywhere, whether to get to work, go shopping, escape, go on vacation, or drive back home. And, just like all insurances, they represent a sizable and significant budget for a family, particularly if they own multiple vehicles! As a result, the idea of attempting to avoid such expenses may emerge.

Check out our comprehensive guide to car insurance in France to make sure you’re covered. Car insurance is one of the most common types of insurance in France. If you intend to drive in France, you must have minimum liability insurance, a legal requirement if you have a vehicle on the road. This guide will go over the major issues in car insurance in France to help you understand them.

Introduction To Car Insurance In France

All motor vehicles must be insured for at least third-party liability in France. You must do this even if the vehicle is not used unless all four wheels are removed. Failure to insure a vehicle can result in a €3,750 fine.

Car insurance in France includes the vehicle rather than the driver, which means that if your policy allows it, other licenced drivers can drive your car.

Because the insurance covers the vehicle, every car in France must be insured separately. However, many insurance companies provide discounts for a second or multiple-car insurance policy.

According to the 2016 data, France has the second-largest car insurance market in Europe, trailing only the United Kingdom. There are approximately 90 auto insurance companies in the country. The French insurance market is regulated by the Autorite de Controle Prudentiel et de Resolution (ACPR), an arm of the Banque de France.

Can You Use Car Insurance From A Different Country In France?

Non-residents can only drive foreign cars insured in their home country if the insurance meets the French minimum requirements. You’ll need a green card to prove that you have adequate coverage for your vehicle.

If you are a French resident, you have to get car insurance and ensure that your vehicle has a French licence plate. Citizens of EU countries can continue to use their home country’s insurance.

Is It Mandatory To Have Car Insurance In France?

French law is very strict: if you own a car, you must have specific insurance. Since a 1958 law, all car owners have been required to purchase auto insurance. And the articles of the law are extremely clear:

“Any legal or natural person, other than the State, who can be held liable in the event of any damage to third-party goods or bodies caused by a vehicle, shall subscribe to insurance for that vehicle, and that insurance shall cover the said liability under the conditions set out by the French Conseil d’Etat.”

According to this rule of law, every car owner must, at the very least, have insurance that covers civil liability in the event of damage to third parties. This civil liability guarantee would cover damages and injuries caused to people and their property while the insured party drives or parks its car or motor vehicle. It is required to insure your vehicle even if you don’t use it daily or if it is parked in front of your house and you only use it on vacation.

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Types Of Car Insurance In France

In France, there are three types of car insurance: third-party, third-party fire and theft, and fully comprehensive.

Third-Party Liability (Tiers Collision Or Responsabilite Civile)

This is the bare minimum of insurance required by French law. It protects you against damage and injury to third parties in incidents in which you are at fault. This includes any passengers in your vehicle.

Third-party insurance does not cover any of your expenses, such as repairing the damage to your vehicle. This is a good type of insurance if you drive a cheap car or only drive occasionally.

Third-Party, Fire, And Theft

This is also referred to as third-party plus. This policy includes standard third-party liability coverage and costs for damage to your vehicle caused by accidents, natural disasters, or terrorist attacks. These policies typically cover the following:

  • theft;
  • fire;
  • windshield damage through debris or a collision with an animal;
  • storm damage;
  • vandalism.

Companies’ policies differ, so check your policy for any exclusions before signing.

Comprehensive (Tous Risques)

This includes damage to your car caused by an accident that was your fault. This is a great choice of coverage if you drive an expensive or new car, are a frequent driver, or have any risks associated with your driving. It is also known as an ‘all-risk’ policy.

Although all risk policies are comprehensive, most have exclusions, so read the fine print before signing. They are usually associated with intentional damage or incidents when the vehicle is illegally parked.

Car Insurance Costs

Car insurance costs in France, like in most other countries, vary greatly and are determined by a variety of factors, including:

  • what you use the vehicle for (the premiums are higher if you drive for work);
  • vehicle value;
  • how frequently you drive (many companies offer per-kilometre or ‘pay as you drive packages;
  • driver profile (e.g. accident history);
  • coverage type (tiers collision is the cheapest and tous risques is the most expensive);
  • location
  • driver age;

By increasing your excess, you can lower your premiums. This is the amount you contribute to any claim. Most insurance companies impose a mandatory access fee, such as €100. You will pay the first €100 on any claim, and the company will pay the rest.

Most policies let you increase your excess in exchange for a lower monthly or annual premium. Some policies are available without an excess.

In 2016, the average annual premium for car insurance in France was around €400, ranking it fifth in the EU and above the EU average. Tous risques premiums are higher, typically ranging from €600 to €900 per year.

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Additional Forms Of Car Insurance In France

You can insure your car with a variety of optional insurance policies. Comprehensive policies frequently include these; if unsure, read the fine print beforehand. In France, additional car insurance includes:

  • Medical insurance – this insurance covers the costs of medical treatment if there is an accident, as well as death or disability costs in the case of serious accidents;
  • Legal insurance – covers the cost of legal representation and advice in the event of an incident.
  • Breakdown assistance – covers vehicle repair and towing costs in the event of a roadside breakdown;
  • Equipment insurance – up to a certain amount, covers the costs of any equipment and possessions in the car, such as luggage or a car stereo;
  • No-claims protection – This safeguards your no-claims bonus in the event of an accident.

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 a full 50% no-claims bonus requires 13 years of no-fault driving.

As a result, some drivers pay directly for the damage they cause to avoid higher premiums. You should think carefully before doing this because you will waive your right to file an insurance claim later. You may be out of pocket if the repair costs exceed your expectations.

Another option is to pay extra for no-claims coverage on your insurance policy.

As long as you provide proof, most companies will allow you to transfer no-claims bonuses earned to another insurer. Insurance companies are less likely to let you transfer no-claims periods from an insurer abroad, 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 were involved in an incident in which you were at fault; 
  • You accrue points on your French driver’s licence as a result of violations such as speeding or driving while intoxicated;
  • You are a new or inexperienced driver.
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Car Insurance Companies In France

In France, there are approximately 90 car insurance companies. These are some examples:

  • Allianz Auto
  • AXA
  • Clements
  • Crédit Mutuel
  • Groupama – Auto
  • MAAF
  • MACIF
  • Matmut

You can use comparison websites to compare car insurance policies, such as Assurland and Le Comparateur Assurance.

How To Find Your Car Insurance Provider?

As with all insurance, there are numerous insurers and offers to choose from. What should I do? Our best advice is to request quotes and compare them!

Ask For Quotes

You can begin by requesting quotes online. You can easily find many car insurance providers on the internet, and each website makes it very simple to request a quote. You must fill out some information about your situation and the vehicle you want to insure and enter your email address. The insurer will send you an offer that includes all the details, coverage, options, and, of course, the premium. The offers will also include a subscription agreement if you choose this specific insurance.

You can easily ask different insurers for quotes and compare them online. You can also use insurance comparators online, which will provide you with a wide range of car insurance quotes from their insurance partners. You’d only have to enter the required information and, in most cases, your email address.

If your home insurer also offers car insurance, you can request an appointment to receive a quote and negotiate a deal for all your insurance contracts.

Compare The Quotes

After you have requested quotes, carefully consider the following criteria:

  • The included guarantees;
  • The options and the price for the options you would like to subscribe to;
  • The premium.

In all cases, selecting the best insurance only sometimes implies selecting the cheapest. On the other hand, a high price only sometimes implies adequate coverage. If you wish to save money, compare your options and guarantees, and look into online insurers!

What Makes The Insurance Premium Vary?

The insurance premium is determined by several factors, including:

  • The type of insurance chosen: The more guarantees you want, the higher the insurance cost.
  • The type of vehicle you want to insure. The brand, model, and age all have an impact on the premium because this information determines the cost of the repair.
  • The profile of the driver: young drivers, with or without a history of accidents;
  • The bonus and malus rate of the primary driver as part of the driving history;
  • The car’s location as street parking may increase the risk of vehicle damage.

What Are The Bonus And Malus Rates?

The bonus and malus rate, also known as the “rebate/surcharge coefficient,” is applied to the initial premium offered by the insurer. The premium will rise or fall depending on the bonus or malus rate.

If a driver receives a bonus, they will receive a discount on the first year’s premium the following year. In the case of malus, on the other hand, the premium will rise.

At first, the rate is one.

  • The bonus rate: If a driver has no accidents or other damage for a year, they will receive a 5% bonus rate. This means that the initial rate will be reduced by 5%, and the bonus rate will be: 0.95.
  • The malus rate: A driver will have a malus rate of 25% if they cause a responsible accident. The initial rate will rise by 25% from 1 to 1.25.

After a car insurance contract is terminated, the bonus and malus rate is retained for three years before returning to one.

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How To Choose Car Insurance In France

When looking for car insurance in France, you should shop for the best deal for your specific needs. Aside from premium costs, here are a few other factors to consider:

  • Policy coverage – What is and isn’t included? Check for exclusions and thoroughly read the terms and conditions. What is the cost of adding anything you require if it is not covered?
  • Excess options – What is the excess amount, and how much can you save by increasing it voluntarily?
  • No-claims bonus – What services are provided, and can the bonus earned elsewhere be transferred?
  • Claims process – How simple is it to file a claim? Will you have to pay in advance and then be reimbursed, or will the insurer handle payments directly?
  • Company reputation – Examine company ratings and customer reviews to see what feedback has been provided;
  • Roadside assistance – Is the company’s breakdown assistance policy adequate?

What Do You Need To Get A Subscription For Car Insurance?

To subscribe to car insurance, as with all French insurance, you must have some documents and information to provide to your future insurer.

Here is a checklist to help you gather the documents to file with the insurance companies.

Required Information For The Insurer

All insurers will require the following information to provide you with a quote that is tailored to your specific situation and vehicle:

  • The make, year and model of the vehicle you want to insure;
  • The type of guarantees you desire (described further below);
  • The vehicle’s intended use (professional or personal);
  • People who are prone to driving a vehicle regularly;
  • Previous collisions you may have caused while driving or suffered as a result of another motorised vehicle;
  • And any penalties you received, such as a licence suspension or cancellation.

Be careful to be completely honest in your declaration. Indeed, if you lie or omit information, the sanction can be a fine of up to 375,000 euros and imprisonment for up to 5 years. So, even if only some of the required information may impact the premium you will have to pay to your insurer, be sure to provide only true indications.

Required Documents To Subscribe To Car Insurance

In addition to the previously mentioned information, all insurance providers will request the following documents:

  • The insurance statement provided by your previous insurer includes all information about your profile as a driver, such as accident history, damages, and your bonus and malus rate, as well as information about your previous insurer.
  • A copy of the registration certificate (known as a “grey card” in France because it is made of grey paper) is required to drive your car. If the owner keeps the paper, it will identify your vehicle.
  • A copy of your current driver’s licence.

Any car insurer will require all of these documents before providing you with valid insurance for your vehicle.

Applying For Car Insurance In France

Each French insurance company has its application process, so make sure you know what you’ll need ahead of time. Most companies now provide online sign-ups, allowing you to set up your policy by filling out an application form and uploading the necessary documentation.

Typically, you will be required to provide the following:

  • valid French driving licence;
  • car registration certificate;
  • personal details of the policyholder, like age and address.
  • driver history report;

You should receive the following within a few days:

  • your insurance policy, known as the attestation d’assurance, which demonstrates that the vehicle is insured. You should keep a copy of this document.
  • Insurance certificate, known as the certificat d’assurance, in your car. This is a green slip, and it should be attached to your assurance attestation. You must attach this to your windscreen so that it is visible; 
  • EU accident form, known as le constat amiable in French, which you must fill out in the event of an accident.

Green Car Insurance Card And Car Insurance Certificate

Once you have purchased car insurance, your insurer will provide you with two documents that you must keep at all times:

  • The green car insurance card
  • The car insurance certificate
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The Green Car Insurance Card

The green car insurance card is a piece of paper that contains the following information:

  • The name of the insurer;
  • The address of the insurer;
  • The details of the insured party: name, address;
  • The insured contract number of the insured party;
  • The start and end date of insurance coverage of the insured party.

In the event of a police stop, the officer may request that the driver show the green car insurance card (“attestation d’assurance”). It is the driver’s responsibility to have it and be able to show it. In the event of a default or failure to show the document, the driver may be fined 150 euros and must show the authorities their green car insurance card within five days. Failure to present the results of the required document in a fine of 750 euros.

The Car Insurance Certificate

The car insurance certificate is a small document that contains the following details:

  • The name of the insurer;
  • The plate number of the vehicle;
  • The insured contract number of the insured party;
  • The start and end date of insurance coverage of the insured party.

The car insurance certificate must be visible from the outside of the vehicle and be placed in the lower right corner of the windscreen. In the event of a police stop, the driver may be fined 150 euros if the car insurance certificate is not visible from the outside.

What If I Drive Without Car Insurance?

Driving an uninsured car may result in a fine of up to 3.750 euros, but that is not the only risk you would be taking. You may also face the following penalties, depending on your circumstances:

  • Seizure of the vehicle;
  • Suspension of your driving licence for a period of up to 3 years;
  • Obligation to follow sensitisation training to road safety;
  • Cancellation of your driving licence;
  • Interdiction to drive any motor vehicle during a period of up to 5 years;
  • Obligation to pay a day fine;
  • Obligation follows community service.

Furthermore, as of January 1st, 2019, the law has become stricter, and police officers (who may stop you while driving) can now check the file of insured vehicles and directly fine you if you do not have insurance.

As a result, to protect your car and avoid the risk of a fine or a large sum of money to pay in the event of damage to other goods, it is far better to find insurance that fits your needs!

Making A Car Insurance Claim In France

If you have to file a car insurance claim in France, follow these steps:

  • Please fill out 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 five days.
  • Take down the information of any other parties involved in the accident, such as names, addresses, and licence plate numbers.
  • Take photographs and obtain statements from witnesses who may be present at the scene of an accident.
  • In a serious accident, call the police and emergency medical services.

To support your insurance claim, you may submit photos and witness statements.

If theft happens, you should notify the police immediately and file an insurance claim within two days. French insurance companies will wait 30 days before paying for stolen car claims.

Cancelling A Contract And Changing Provider

It is generally more difficult to cancel an insurance contract in France than in many other European countries. However, in recent years, this has become easier. Because car insurance is mandatory in France, policies will automatically renew after the first year unless you cancel.

When you sign a contract, you have a 14-day grace period during which you can cancel without penalty. After that, you can only cancel within the last two months of the first year unless the vehicle is sold or the policyholder dies.

A contract can be cancelled within the first year. Remember, you can only do so by two months before the contract expiry date and by 15 days before the contract expiry date. You can cancel at any time after the first 12 months have passed. The insurer will terminate the contract one month after receiving the cancellation notice and refund any payments made after that date.

You must send a cancellation letter to your insurer. Many businesses now allow this to be done via email; otherwise, a letter can be mailed.

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Submitting A Complaint About A Car Insurance Company In France

Suppose you wish to complain about a French insurance company, for example. If you are not satisfied with a product or believe you were treated unfairly, you should try to resolve the issue through the insurance company’s complaints department.

Your insurance company should have a complaints procedure detailed on their website or in the documentation provided to you. You must follow this procedure and allow the company 15 days to respond.

If you are still waiting for a satisfactory and acceptable 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.

Useful resources

  • Autorite de Controle Prudentiel et de Resolution (ACPR) – the regulator of insurance companies in France
  • La Mediation de l’assurance – mediator for complaints about French insurance companies
  • Assurland – an insurance comparison website

Conclusion

Aside from the fact that car insurance serves a useful purpose, French law is extremely strict in this regard. We have given you a guideline on why it is so important to find car insurance, how to find it, what guarantees you can choose from, and what the risks of driving without insurance are.