In France, compulsory and optional legal insurance covers many sectors. Here’s a quick guide to ensuring you’re properly insured in France.

The French approach to insurance is more dirigiste than many newcomers are accustomed to. For liability, for example, you will almost always need coverage. This guide is intended to provide a comprehensive picture of France’s insurance and ensure that you are adequately insured while living in France.

Overview Of Legal Insurance In France

France has one of the most developed insurance markets in the world, ranking fifth globally and second in Europe (behind only the UK). In 2017, the French insurance sector generated €293 million in revenue, with 285 insurance companies operating in the country.

Through the Autorite de Controle Prudentiel et de Résolution, the Banque de France regulates insurance in France (ACPR). The French Insurance Federation (also known as Federation Francais de l’Assurance – FFA) represents over 260 insurance companies in France.

Residents of France are required by law to obtain a variety of insurance. In addition, you can purchase a variety of optional insurance.

The Best Legal Insurance In Franceus 

Naturally, there are numerous companies and policies to consider. You can reach out to an insurer online, through a local agent, or a broker. Insurance policies are also available from banks and supermarkets. In France, insurance companies include:

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AXA

They are AXA – Global Healthcare, and they are healthcare experts worldwide. They use AXA’s global resources to help their members get quality medical care whenever they need it. They accomplish this by matching them with appropriate international health insurance and providing ongoing support before, during, and after treatment.

They encourage their members to live life to the fullest, knowing they will assist them if needed.

  • They provide international health insurance plans for individuals purchasing for themselves or businesses purchasing for their employees.
  • They can assist you whether you are living or working abroad for a short period or an extended period.
  • And they can assist you whether you require global coverage or a specific region.

GMF

The GMF, a private property insurer among the first in the French market, is also the first insurer of public servants. With nearly 3,2 million employees, the group proposes contracts and services in goods and personal insurance, assistance, legal protection, foresight, savings, or financial products, as well as contracts that meet the specific needs of public service employees (State staff, public service, corporate staff, and public institutions). One in every three public sector employees belongs to the GMF, putting Mutual at the forefront of public sector insurers.

Lemonade

Lemonade is a publicly traded company backed by global reinsurance titans. Lemonade is a solid option for homeowners looking for competitive rates and a convenient mobile app to manage their policies. Lemonade distinguishes itself from most insurance companies by deducting a flat fee from insurance premiums for expenses and donating any money left over after paying claims to charities. Renters’ insurance starts at 4 € per month. It is completely digital, requires no paperwork, and you can sign up in seconds.

Lemonade flips the traditional insurance model on its head. They treat the premiums you pay as your money rather than theirs. Everything becomes simple and transparent with Lemonade. They charge a flat fee, pay claims quickly, and donate any remaining funds to causes you care about.

Luko

A conflict of interest underpins the traditional insurance model. The less they pay out in compensation for your claim, the more money they make. They disagree with that approach and would prefer a far more transparent model.

  • Luko’s management costs are covered by 30% of your premium. Customer service, claims management, and innovation, to name a few.
  • 70% is combined with the premiums of their other members. That pool will be used to compensate you if you ever file a claim.
  • If money remains at the end of the year, it is donated to the charity of your choice. It does not affect their profits. That is simply not how they prefer to work.

What Is Legal Insurance?

If you are involved in a dispute or a trial, you will have access to legal expertise and reimbursement of legal costs, legal information, contractual assistance, legal aid, and support.

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Why Should I Buy Legal Insurance In France?

Legal Insurance helps with the events of legal conflicts or disputes. Many home and auto insurance policies include “protection juridique”, abbreviated as PJ by insurance agents. It is sometimes offered as a €1 add-on to reward customer loyalty when it is not included in the initial package, usually on the anniversary of the contract signing. If you conflict with a third party, this legal insurance allows you to hire an expert or lawyer to defend yourself in a ‘friendly settlement’ or in court.

An estimated 40% of home and auto insurance policies include this coverage, often without the client’s knowledge. The scope is frequently limited when it comes to a package. If it is attached to car insurance, for example, it will only apply to vehicle-related issues such as accident damage or issues with a mechanic.

Which Insurance In France Is Legally Required?

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Health Insurance

Everyone in France is required to have health insurance. As of 2016, residents of France were covered by the Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMA). This covers expats working in France since their first day, while other legal residents are also able to access state health insurance after three months of stable and regular residency.

The scheme, however, has limitations. As a result, many expats and French citizens will purchase additional private insurance. Large private international health insurance companies that offer expat coverage packages include:

Home Insurance

Before moving into your French home, you must have a home insurance policy, whether you rent or own it. Around 90% of French homeowners have a multi-risk policy, but you can also buy separate coverage. Home insurance should include the following coverage:

  • Building insurance covers damage caused by fire, water damage, natural disasters, and vandalism. For specific coverage, consult individual policies. This is required for renters and people who have a mortgage but not for people who own their home outright.
  • Public liability insurance – All residents must cover their liability for damage to third parties and property. Tenants in rented housing will usually require this. This can be purchased separately as third-party liability insurance, but it is frequently included in home insurance packages.
  • Content insurance is optional coverage for personal belongings, but it is frequently available at a lower premium when combined with a multi-risk home insurance policy.
  • Construction insurance – It is required to insure major construction work is done on your property with a decennial cover known as dommages ouvrage. This safeguards against errors in the work performed. This is available in some multi-risk packages. It is also available for purchase separately.

Policies can start at around €100 per year and can go up to €300-400 depending on the property value and extent of coverage. You can get coverage or helpful advice from an expat-friendly insurance broker, often in English. These are some examples:

Read the fine print of any policy, especially the excesses you will be required to carry and your obligations to protect the property. Some policies may require you to install close shutters or an alarm at night or during extended absences.

Insurance For School Children

Some home insurance policies will cover your liability for any injury or damage your child may cause at school; other insurance companies will offer this as a separate cover for a small fee. In both cases, the insurer will provide you with a certificate or attestation that the school will require at the start of the school year.

While not strictly required for school attendance, you will need this for any activities that are not part of the official curriculum, such as field trips of any kind and extracurricular sports.

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Motor Vehicle Insurance

All motor vehicles in France must be insured for collision liability, even if they are being used unless all four wheels are removed. Third-party (tiers collision), third-party theft and fire, or comprehensive policies are available (tous risques). In France, car insurance companies include:

You must carry an attestation d’assurance issued by your insurance company with you at all times when driving your vehicle. A green “certificat d’assurance” attests to your insurance’s validity is part of this. You must attach this to your vehicle’s windscreen so that it is clearly visible.

In the event of an accident, your insurer will also provide you with an internationally standard form, le constat amiable, to complete.

The cost of car insurance in France is determined by factors such as the value of the vehicle, the extent of coverage, and the driver’s history. 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 may offer to pay directly for the damage they cause in order to avoid an increase in the cost of their insurance policy. You should exercise caution before accepting such an offer. If the cost of repairing the damage exceeds the amount you received from the other party, you will be unable to file an insurance claim.

Social Insurance

Those who work or study in France are required to register for social security payments. In France, public social security schemes cover the following:

  • sickness, accidents, and disability;
  • parental leave;
  • family benefits;
  • old-age French pensions;
  • unemployment;
  • survivor benefits

Employers typically enroll their employees in a social security plan. On the other hand, self-employed workers must enroll in a self-employment scheme.

Optional Forms Of Insurance In France

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Life Insurance

In France, there are two types of life insurance:

  • assurance deces
  • assurance vie

The insurance known as assurance vie translates literally as “life insurance”. This savings plan saves and invests money for retirement or similar long-term financial goals. It will also pay if you die before the policy’s expiration date. Many people purchase this as a supplement to state-provided social insurance.

Assurance deces means “death insurance” in Latin. However, this is the equivalent of what is known as a life insurance policy in many countries. This will only provide a premium to your family in the event of your death, based on your earnings loss.

Assurance décès following an accident is cheap (approximately €20 per month to cover the entire family), but when illness is included, the price is significantly higher and takes your age and current state of health into account.

If you obtain a large home loan from a French bank, you can be asked to obtain life insurance. This is meant to protect both the bank and your family by paying off the outstanding mortgage in the event that you or your partner dies.

Third-Party Liability Insurance

Third-party liability insurance is a required component of home and auto insurance. It is also possible to obtain separate liability insurance that covers damage or injury caused to others in other circumstances. For instance, if you cause damage to someone else’s property or if your dog bites someone.

Liability insurance can be purchased separately from home insurance and will cover incidents that occur in the home. A separate policy typically costs around €160 per year.

Legal Insurance

This type of optional insurance is not as common in France as life or liability insurance. However, as access to legal aid becomes more difficult, more people are purchasing policies that cover legal expenses.

In the case of a legal dispute or lawsuit, legal insurance (assurance de protection juridique) covers the costs of legal proceedings. You can purchase it separately or as an add-on to your home or car insurance policy.

Are All Insurance Contracts Regulated? What Terms Do They Typically Include?

Three types of documents must be exchanged between the insurer and the policyholder prior to the issuance of the insurance policy.

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Documents Of Information

According to Law 89-1014 of December 31, 1989 (D 1990 66), the contractual process begins with the insurer providing information documents. The policyholder will then send an insurance proposal, and the insurer will potentially issue a cover note.

It has long been recognized that the insurer owes the policyholder information and advice throughout the insurance relationship. This obligation is now formalized at the time of contract conclusion by the mandatory sending of three types of documents, as detailed in Laws 89-1014 of December 31, 1989, and 2003-706 of August 1, 2003, as well as Order 2018-361 of May 16, 2018, transposing Directive 2016/97 on insurance distribution (D 2003 1947; Article L112-2 of the Insurance Code).

These must be written in clear characters and, ideally, in French. The following documents are at stake:

  • the distribution of an information sheet; 
  • the distribution of a draught contract or information notice; and
  • If the future contract includes liability guarantees, the distribution of a second information sheet describing the operation of these guarantees over time (Article 80-III of Law 2003-706 of August 1, 2003, known as the ‘Financial Security Law’).

Insurance Application

An insurance application is a document in which the policyholder requests that the insurer cover a specific risk that is precisely described. The application includes an attached risk questionnaire, which the policyholder must complete truthfully and accurately or face the penalties provided in the event of a false declaration.

Note On The Cover

The cover note, also known as a ‘letter of guarantee’ or a ‘provisional application form’ for mutuals, is a provisional document issued by the insurer or its representative to establish cover before the policy is issued.

An insurance policy is issued once the insurance company has provided these preliminary documents, which have been completed and/or signed by the policyholder.

The Insurance Code places extremely stringent formal requirements on insurance policies. They must be written (Article 112-3) and include certain mandatory information (Articles L112-4 and R112-1).

Article L112-4 of the Insurance Code states that “clauses in policies which provide for nullities, forfeitures or exclusions are only valid if they are mentioned in very clear characters”. This requirement is required for the clause to be valid. This legal protection does not apply to clauses other than those mentioned in Insurance Code Article L112-4.

In most insurance policies, a distinction is made between:

  • The general conditions, which are frequently pre-printed and include clauses that are common to all contracts covering the same category of risk; 
  • And the special conditions are unique to each contract and reflect the adaptation of the general conditions to the risk covered.

They bear the parties’ signatures and indicate the amount of the premium.

Article L112-3 of the Insurance Code indicates that the insurance contract, as well as the information sent by the insurer to the policyholder, must be drawn up “in writing, in French, in visible characters”. General provisions must be written in clear characters (Article L112-3 of the Insurance Code), while clauses stipulating nullities, forfeitures, or exclusions, as well as those mentioning contract duration (Article L113-15 of the IC), must be written in very clear characters.

These formal requirements are also a result of the obligation to include certain information outlined in Insurance Code Articles L112-4 and R112-1. As a result, Article L112-4 requires that the policy include the following:

  • the names of the parties;
  • their domicile;
  • the risks covered (in the dual sense of risk event and risk object of the guarantee – that is, the person or thing insured);
  • the amount of the guarantee;
  • the premium to be paid;
  • the applicable law (where this is not French law);
  • the address of the insurer’s head office and, where applicable, of the branch office, granting cover; and
  • the names and addresses of the supervisory authorities.

The policy must also state:

  • the duration of the contract (Article L113-15); and
  • the starting point and duration of the guarantee (Article L112-4).

According to Article R112-1, the following must be specified:

  • If specified, the conditions for tacit renewal.
  • The causes and conditions of extension or cancellation of the contract or suspension of its effects.
  • The obligations of the insured, at the time of taking out the contract and possibly during the course of the contract, regarding the declaration of the risk and the declaration of other insurance covering the same risks.
  • In the event of a claim, the conditions and procedures for making a declaration are outlined.
  • The legislative provisions regarding the proportional rule and the statute of limitations for actions deriving from the insurance contract.
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Commercial Insurance In France

If you intend to run a business in France, you must obtain the appropriate insurance coverage to protect your assets and reputation. Some business insurance in France is required, while others are optional. The most important are:

  • Business liability insurance – It is also known as professional indemnity insurance (l’assurance civile professionnelle) and public liability insurance. All limited companies must have it. Suppose you are a sole business owner or freelancer. In that case, you may be able to cover your business activities through your personal liability insurance. Still, you will need to specify your activities and may have to pay an additional premium for coverage.
  • Premises, equipment, and vehicle insurance – These can be purchased separately or combined in a multi-risk policy (assurance multi risque et perte d’exploitation). None of these are required for most businesses, but they are highly recommended to protect against theft or damage caused by fire, water, or storms, among other things.
  • Business interruption insurance (assurance perte d’exploitation) – This protects against income loss, including employee salaries, if the business is unable to operate for an extended period of time. Some insurers offer packages that include property, equipment, and vehicle insurance.
  • Assurance decennale – This is required insurance for tradespeople such as builders, plumbers, and electricians. It protects your work for a period of ten years against defects in quality.

Tools For Comparing Insurance In France

  • Assurland – It is one of the most well-known insurance comparison websites in France, where you can compare health, home, vehicle, and other insurance policies.
  • Le Lynx – It is another popular site for comparing insurance and energy providers.

Useful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What Insurance Is Mandatory In France?

Under French law, having civil liability insurance (“assurance responsabilité civile”) covers damage to another person or property is required. It is usually covered by homeowners insurance, but you should double-check.

What Type Of Insurance Is Legal Insurance?

Legal expense insurance, also known as legal protection insurance, is a short-term insurance product that covers legal fees if you require the services of a lawyer. Legal insurance would cover you for both in-court and out-of-court legal fees.

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What Is GLI Insurance In France?

The acronym GLI stands for Garantie des loyers impayés. It is a landlord insurance policy that landlords purchase to protect themselves from tenants’ failed rent payments and late rental payments; it can also cover damage caused by negligence or force majeure events such as fire or flooding.

What Does GHIC Cover In France?

An EHIC or GHIC only covers public healthcare and not private treatment. You can get emergency or necessary medical care for the same price as a resident of the country you’re visiting with an EHIC or GHIC. This means you can get healthcare at a reduced or no cost.

Can I Travel To France Without Insurance?

Is travel insurance required for France? Although your trip to France is not legally required to have travel insurance, purchasing a policy that covers trips to Europe will ensure you’re covered if: You require medical care or emergency treatment.

Do I Need An S1 In France?

You must register your S1 form at your local CPAM office once you have received it. This means you and your dependents will have the same access to healthcare in France as a French citizen. You will still be required to pay a portion of your medical expenses, just like other French residents.

Do I Need An Insurance Certificate For France?

You must have proof of insurance that covers all medical and hospital expenses for the length of your stay in France, also medical needed costs and expenses in the event of death.

Do I Need GHIC For France?

It is critical to obtain appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance, and you should have both before departing. It does not cover all medical expenses, such as medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment, and non-urgent treatment.

Conclusion

Now that you know what legal insurance is and whether you need it, it’s time to find the best insurance company for you. GMF may be the best option if the French language is not an issue for you because you can customize your cover.

AXA’s advanced policy is your savior if you prefer to communicate in English and require legal insurance without lengthy waiting periods. Lemonade is a solid, easy, and super flexible legal insurance for everyone else; you can’t go wrong with it.