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An Expat Guide to Car Insurance In France

Moving abroad can be confusing at the best of times. There’s so much to learn with regards to properties, locations and culture – and that’s before you add in the paperwork!However, when it comes to getting your documentation in place, insurance is one of those elements you need before something happens to save yourself from a lengthy and costly battle – and this is especially true when talking about car insurance.

In France, car insurance is a legal requirement for all vehicles, regardless of whether the vehicle is in use. Driving without car insurance is a serious offence, and if you’re caught without it you could face a three-month suspension in addition to a fine of up to €3,750… Which is why it’s important that all vehicles, regardless of whether imported or bought whilst in the country, have car insurance in place at all times.

Choosing The Right Expat Car Insurance

There are three types of car insurance available in France.

Au Tiers (Third Party)
This is the minimum insurance required by law. It covers medical costs and damages to a third party’s property.

Au Tiers Illimité (Third Party, Fire and Theft)
This is a medium level of insurance and provides cover for legal expenses, fire, theft and natural hazards.

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Tous Risques (Comprehensive Cover)
This is the maximum level of insurance available. It covers damage to your vehicle (regardless of whether a third party can be identified, or how it was caused) as well as all the cover offered by Third Party, Fire and Theft.

Understanding French Car Insurance

Once you have applied for your car insurance, you’ll be given a provisional insurance contract known as a Police d’Assurance Provisoire, which will be provided by your insurance provider directly, or by the broker who arranged the insurance.

After a few weeks, you should receive a definitive contract (known as a Police Définitive) in the post. When this is delivered, you’ll also receive a green coloured tear-off tab along with it. This is your Certificat d’Assurance, which must be displayed in your vehicle’s windscreen as confirmation of your insurance policy. Failure to display this could result in a €150 fine, even if it was in your vehicle but happened to slip out of view.

While it isn’t a requirement to carry your insurance documents with you at all times, they can be helpful in certain situations, such as in the event of police control. It’s a good idea to keep the signed section of this document and the ownership documentation (Carte Grise) for your vehicle in your glove compartment in case you need them while out and about. However, you should never store all of your documents in the vehicle for safety reasons.

Choosing A French Car Insurance Provider

We can’t recommend individual insurance companies as there are numerous insurers available and their coverage and prices vary depending on a person’s age, health conditions, driving capabilities and the country from which they’re moving.

To find the best deal, shop around and find a few quotes which are tailored for you. Factors which will influence your insurance include:

• The make and model of your vehicle;
• How many drivers the vehicle has;
• Personal details of the named driver/s, such as their age and any health conditions.

Some insurers will enable you to transfer your no-claims bonus from your previous country to France. However, this is at the discretion of the insurance provider and you’ll need to check with individual companies as to whether they offer this.

In some cases, you may need a written statement from your former insurer to attest to the validity and duration of your no-claims bonus, and in certain cases, the document may need to be translated into French.

It’s worth noting that the cheapest policies aren’t always the most cost-effective. This is why it’s important to read the small print to find out what’s covered by your policy, whether there are any special terms and conditions, and how much your excess will be in the event of a claim.

Another thing to consider when choosing an insurance policy is whether there will be a language barrier. If you’re relocating to France but don’t speak French, it may be handy to know that there are companies which provide translation services for all the necessary documents.

How To Claim On Your French Insurance

In the event of a collision, you’ll be required to complete a document known as a Constat Amiable d’Accident. This form is designed to record insurance details of both parties and a description of the incident. The form is carbon copied and must be completed and signed by both parties involved. You should only sign the Constat Amiable d’Accident if you agree with what’s been written on the document.

The form is then sent off to the insurance provider together with any other relevant documents, such as police reports and, if relevant, the reports put together by insurance company experts. The insurance provider will then decide on the outcome of the claim and, if applicable, will charge you your excess fee before carrying out any work.

If your vehicle sustains any damage, it’s worth asking your insurer whether they have a particular garage they use for repairs as many do have authorised workshops which work on their behalf.

You must report any accidents to your insurance provider as soon as possible. Some insurance companies have set time periods in place for certain instances. For example, if you had your vehicle stolen, you may have to wait for 30 days before the insurance company will consider a claim. This enables all relevant checks and leads to be followed up on before they reach their outcome. However, for minor instances, this delay usually isn’t relevant.

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