How French car insurance works
You will initially be given a provisional insurance contract (police d’assurance provisoire) by your insurer or broker and receive a definitive contract (police définitive) a few weeks later.
A green tear-off tab comes with the contract, which you must display in the windscreen of your vehicle as confirmation of insurance. If it is not displayed in the windscreen, even if it has fallen off and is in the car, you could be issued a fine of around €150.
Types of insurance available
- Third Party (au tiers) - the minimum required by law in France and includes unlimited medical costs and damage to third-party property.
- Third Party, Fire & Theft (TPF&T) (au tiers illimité) - includes cover against fire, natural hazards, theft and legal expenses
- Comprehensive (tous risques) - covers all the risks listed under TPF&T and includes damage to your vehicle however it was caused and whether a third party can be identified or not. (You should note however that illegally parked cars automatically lose their comprehensive cover)
Choosing the right car insurance
There are a number of car insurance companies available and it’s important to choose the one that is best for you. Be sure to receive a quote from a few different providers before making your decision and keep in mind that the cheapest premiums are not necessarily the best. Always read the small print, as often when companies have ‘special offers’ available, the policy is cancelled when you make a claim.
A number of factors are considered before the company decides how much your insurance will cost, which is why it is usually best to buy insurance that's catered towards your circumstances. Deciding on car insurance in a new country can seem like a daunting task but there are many policies specific to expats which focus on providing the support you’ll need. Language barriers can sometimes be a problem when trying to communicate your needs as a policyholder so look out for companies that have English speaking advisors. For instance, Clements Worldwide provide car insurance for expats in English, with policies designed to take care of the details for you if ever you should need to make a claim. It’s always worth checking if the company you choose accepts the currency you’ll be paying in (if you are not paying in Euros) as not everyone does.
Making a Claim
Claims are decided on the information provided in accident report forms (constat amiable d’accident de voiture/constat européen d’accident) completed by drivers, as well as in reports by insurance company experts and police reports. You must notify your insurance company of a claim resulting from an accident within a limited period, e.g. two to five days. After reporting your car stolen, 30 days must elapse before an insurance company will consider a claim. You may then be able to leave the car with the repairer or you may have to return it another day for the repair to be carried out. For minor repairs however, an inspection may be unnecessary.