Bet­ter safe than sorry

France has a slightly dif­fer­ent at­ti­tude to in­surance than the UK; it’s more likely to be oblig­a­tory, es­pe­cially where li­a­bil­ity is con­cerned. Karen Tait re­ports

French Property News - - Contents -

In­surance is more likely to be oblig­a­tory in France, es­pe­cially con­cern­ing li­a­bil­ity

Whether you own a hol­i­day home or are mov­ing to France, or even if you’re just vis­it­ing, you can’t turn a blind eye to in­surance. From build­ings to cars, health­care to con­tents, and even your chil­dren, the best pol­icy is to have a pol­icy.

Driv­ing All cars in France must be cov­ered for col­li­sion li­a­bil­ity, re­gard­less of where the car is reg­is­tered and where you live, even if the ve­hi­cle isn’t in use (un­less all four wheels have been re­moved).

If you are vis­it­ing France for less than 90 days a year, your UK pol­icy should give you third-party cover for travel abroad but make sure you check be­fore you go.

If you live in France, you have a choice of third party ( tiers col­li­sion), third party, fire and theft, or com­pre­hen­sive ( tous risques) poli­cies.

When driv­ing in France, you are le­gally obliged to carry your in­surance cer­tifi­cate ( at­tes­ta­tion d’as­sur­ance) along with the ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion pa­pers ( cer­ti­fi­cat d’im­ma­tric­u­la­tion). The green cer­ti­fi­cat d’as­sur­ance should be fixed to your ve­hi­cle wind­screen. Don’t leave these doc­u­ments in your car though, it will cause you all man­ner of prob­lems should it be stolen!

Your in­surer will also pro­vide you with a car­bon copy form ( con­stat ami­able) to fill out in the event of an ac­ci­dent. It must be signed by you and the other party in­volved; both par­ties send their copy to their re­spec­tive in­sur­ers, who will then es­tab­lish who was at fault.

The French no-claims bonus

sys­tem is pretty strict; only af­ter 13 years of fault­less driv­ing will you ob­tain a 50% no-claims bonus.

Build­ings Home in­surance ( as­sur­ance habi­ta­tion) is com­pul­sory in France for those who rent a prop­erty or have a mortgage, but not if you own your home.

French poli­cies are all com­pre­hen­sive, cov­er­ing any dam­age to your home and con­tents, such as fire, wa­ter dam­age, theft and van­dal­ism. Nat­u­ral catas­tro­phes are usu­ally au­to­mat­i­cally cov­ered.

You will be asked ques­tions about your French prop­erty, such as the num­ber of rooms, but not the value of the build­ing as this is cov­ered by a na­tional build­ing in­dex. Make sure you’re cov­ered for con­tents too.

If your prop­erty is a hol­i­day home and will be left empty for pe­ri­ods of time, make sure you in­form your in­surer. They may re­quire exta se­cu­rity mea­sures. Fire alarms are not re­quired by French law or most in­sur­ers.

Civil li­a­bil­ity

In France, third-party civil li­a­bil­ity cover ( re­spon­s­abil­ité civile pro­prié­taire) is oblig­a­tory for ev­ery­one and is usu­ally in­cluded in house or car in­surance poli­cies.

It cov­ers you against the risk of dam­age from an ac­ci­dent on your prop­erty to a third party (for ex­am­ple, a neigh­bour or their prop­erty). With­out this cover you would be li­able to pay any com­pen­sa­tion that may be due. When you buy a French prop­erty, the no­taire will ask to see this on the day of com­ple­tion.

Health­care This is an­other area of in­surance that dif­fers be­tween France and the UK. While both coun­tries have state health­care, in France some of the costs of health­care are borne by the in­di­vid­ual (the state usu­ally cov­ers around 70% of doc­tors’ fees and 80% of hos­pi­tal costs).

It is com­mon for those liv­ing in France to pay into a top-up in­surance scheme, known as a mutuelle, to cover those costs not cov­ered by the state. If you move to France and don’t qual­ify for state health­care – early re­tirees, for ex­am­ple (i.e. who aren’t work­ing and pay­ing into the French so­cial se­cu­rity sys­tem or in re­ceipt of a UK pen­sion) – you will need a health­care in­surance pol­icy to cover all your health­care needs.

Not for­get­ting... This of­ten seems strange to Bri­tish ex­pat par­ents in France, but schoolkids need li­a­bil­ity in­surance for any dam­age or in­jury they may cause while at school.

Some home in­surance poli­cies au­to­mat­i­cally in­clude this li­a­bil­ity cover, but check as you may need to take out it sep­a­rately. The school will ask to see proof of this at the start of the school year.

You may also wish to con­sider life in­surance. Note that in France, there is death in­surance ( as­sur­ance décès) and life in­surance ( as­sur­ance vie), the lat­ter re­fer­ring to a sav­ings and in­vest­ment prod­uct which can be used for re­tire­ment and long-term projects, but also pays out in the event of death and can be use­ful for es­tate-plan­ning.

If you have any build­ing work done at your prop­erty, make sure the builders and other ar­ti­sans have in­surance ( as­sur­ance dé­cen­nale and dom­mages ou­vrage), and that it cov­ers the spe­cific type of work they’d do­ing.

If you’re work­ing in France on a self-em­ployed ba­sis, you will also need in­surance such as pro­fes­sional in­dem­nity.

See Axa and CA Brit­line at

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