Make sure you’re prepared for a potential accident
There are some items that you’re legally required to carry in your car which will come in handy if you have an accident. A reflective jacket for each person in the car, and a warning triangle should all be in the trunk. If there is an accident, everyone should get out of the vehicle, put on a reflective jacket and place the warning triangle 30m down the road. This will help alert approaching drivers that there has been an accident and keep you safe.
In France, it is the law for all cars to have Third Party Liability Auto Insurance which covers any injury or damage that may be caused to another party. You must display a green card (carte verte) on your car windscreen to serve as proof of this insurance which your insurance agent will provide you with.
If you need to get car insurance and don’t speak much French, Clements Worldwide offer insurance specifically for English speaking expats. Unlike some other insurers, they also provide cover for both legal expenses and breakdown costs.
Call for help when necessary
When you have an accident, make sure you stop immediately and switch on your hazard lights. If you can, move your vehicle to the side of the road to make sure you are not a danger to other road users and you can leave your vehicle safely.
If there are no injuries and the vehicle damage is not extensive, you do not need to call the police. However, if anyone is injured during the accident, make sure you call the fire service by dialling 18.
Emergency phones are positioned at intervals on the motorways and other roads. Make sure you give the number of the telephone you are using and give as many details as possible. On your own phone, you can dial 112 for emergency services. If you leave the scene of an accident without following the proper procedure or if you simply do not stop, it is a serious offence and you could be prosecuted.
Make sure you fill in your constat amiable d’accident
An accident report sheet (constat amiable d’accident) must be filled in to claim insurance following an accident. You will have received an accident report sheet from your insurer when you purchased your car insurance.
This report is a statement of the facts and must include where the accident took place, the names of any witnesses, the names of both drivers, licence details and details of insurers. Do not sign any paperwork if you do not understand what is written. If that is the case, call the police who will help you to assess the facts and fill in the forms correctly. Both drivers must fill out the form and both must sign it.
If the other driver refuses to sign the form, note the registration number and take the details of any witnesses and police officers on the scene. You have up to five days to notify your insurer of your accident.
Last but not least, don’t panic
Nobody likes to have an accident but they are sometimes unavoidable. Driving in France should be an enjoyable experience and having an understanding of what to do in an accident and knowing that you are protected, should help to give you peace of mind.