Car Insurance in France: a guide for english-speaking drivers

Car insurance is a legal requirement in France for all owners of motorised land vehicles. It covers damage to yourself, third parties and property in the event of a road accident. This article aims to inform English-speaking drivers about the car insurance system in France, particularly new drivers moving to the country.

The different types of insurance cover available

In France, there are two main types of car insurance. You need to get to know them before choosing the best car insurance in France.

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Third-party insurance (Civil Liability)

This is the minimum compulsory cover in France. It covers damage caused to third parties in the event of an accident for which you are responsible. It does not cover damage to your own vehicle.

Comprehensive insurance

This option offers more comprehensive protection than third-party insurance. It covers not only damage caused to third parties, but also damage to your own vehicle, whether caused by an accident for which you are responsible or not, vandalism, theft or other events.

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How do you choose the best insurance for your vehicle?

Choosing the best car insurance depends on a number of factors.

Your driver profile

Your age, driving experience, no-claims bonus and the number of kilometres driven per year are all important factors to take into account.

Your age The age of the driver is a determining factor. As a general rule, young drivers (under 25) are considered more at risk and therefore pay higher insurance premiums. Conversely, more experienced drivers (over 50) generally benefit from lower rates.

Your driving experience In addition to your age, your driving experience is also analysed by insurers. The more years you've driven without an accident, the lower your insurance premium will be. Novice drivers will pay more than those with many years' experience.

Your bonus-malus In France, the bonus-malus system means that the cost of your insurance depends on your driving record. Every year without an accident earns you bonus points, which lowers your premium. Conversely, if you have an accident, you will lose points and pay more.

The number of kilometres you drive each year is also taken into account. The more you use your vehicle, the more you will be exposed to risks and therefore likely to pay a higher premium.

The type of vehicle

The value of your vehicle, its make, model and power will also influence the cost of your insurance.

Your coverage needs

Determine the level of protection you need based on your personal circumstances and preferences.

Your budget

Compare offers from different insurance companies to find the best deal for your needs and budget.

Practical advice for choosing your car insurance

Using an online insurance comparator is a great way to find the offer that's right for you. Many websites make it quick and easy to compare offers from different car insurance companies. You'll be able to identify the best options for your profile, your vehicle and your cover needs.

We also recommend that you request quotes from several insurance companies. Don't hesitate to contact insurers directly or go through a broker to obtain personalised quotes. This will allow you to negotiate and choose the most advantageous offer.

Once you have identified one or more attractive offers, take the time to read the general and special terms and conditions of the insurance contract carefully. Make sure you understand the cover included and excluded, as well as the excess and reimbursement conditions. That way, you won't be surprised if you have to make a claim.

Finally, don't hesitate to ask questions of your insurance company or an insurance broker if you have the slightest doubt. They will be able to guide you and help you choose the best car insurance for your situation.

Legal requirements for car insurance in France

As a driver in France, you must comply with the following legal obligations in terms of car insurance.

Minimum third-party insurance

French law requires you to take out a minimum level of third-party motor insurance (RC auto). This basic cover, known as ‘au tiers’, covers bodily injury and property damage caused to others in the event of an accident. This is the minimum cover required for all land motor vehicles in France.

Have a valid insurance certificate

You must be able to produce a certificate of insurance in the event of a roadside check. As well as taking out insurance, you must be able to produce a certificate of insurance in the event of a roadside check by the police. This certificate must be up to date and valid for the period you are driving.

Reporting a road accident within 24 hours

In the event of a road accident, whether you are at fault or not, you must report it to your insurance company within 24 hours. This period allows the insurance company to cover the damage and take the necessary steps.

Foreign licences valid in France

The validity of a foreign driving licence in France depends on your country of residence and the category of your vehicle.

  • UK licences: UK driving licences are valid in France for 1 year from the date of establishment of residence in France;
  • United States licences: United States licences are valid in France for 1 year from the date of residence in France. An official translation of the licence may be required;
  • Australian licence: Australian driving licences are valid in France for 1 year after the establishment of residence in France. An official translation of the licence may be required.

Compliance with these legal requirements is essential if you are to drive legally in France and be covered in the event of an accident.

In short, motor insurance is an essential part of driving in France. By understanding the different types of cover available, the legal requirements and the factors influencing the cost of insurance, you can choose the best insurance for your vehicle and ensure that you drive safely.

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