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Let’s face it, we cannot do without it as most of us live in the countryside and buses are sparse! So make sure you understand fully how it works in France. Yes, it is different than in the UK. To start with, we drive on the correct side of the road!

1. Who is insured and where: This is the main difference from the UK. In France, it is the car that is insured so everybody can drive it as long as they have a valid driving licence and have authorization to drive it. But note that if someone else drives your car and crashes it, it is YOUR no claim discount that is affected and not theirs and on some policies, there is an additional excess on top of the one you already have if it was not a named driver that crashed the car (around 750 euro on top of your normal one). But like I said, if they crash it, they should pay the excess! If it is a young driver (driving licence for less than 3 years) that drives your car and crashes it, the excess is much higher. You must inform the insurance company if a young driver drives it regularly.
It is a legal obligation to have a motor vehicle insured even if you don’t use it. If someone steals it and kills someone with it, you are responsible, so you must insure it for at least public liability.
You and your car are covered if you are hit by an uninsured driver (if it is fully comprehensive cover). Insurance companies have a special money pot for that.
Car insurance also automatically covers trailers up to a certain weight (750kg with Allianz). Caravans and trailers above 750kg must have their own number plates and insurances (and registration paperwork).
Finally, your car insurance in France does not cover you to drive someone else’s car in the UK! Your car however is insured everywhere in Europe and beyond.
In fact, you have a listing of all the countries where you are insured to drive written at the back of your green insurance paperwork (Tunisia, Russia, etc. are not in Europe and are included so no fear of Brexit!!). And we don’t need to know when you are going abroad! So please stop telling us!

2. No Claim discount/Bonus malus: In France, you need to have 13 years without a claim to be entitled 50% discount. 50% is the maximum discount. If you had 50% bonus for more than 3 years, you keep your maximum discount after an accident that is your fault (a little thank you for being so good for so long!).
We accept no claim certificates from the UK. We also have protected bonus. You need to have been at 50% for 3 years and it is transferred if you change your insurance company.

3. Excess /Franchise: Like most insurances, you can choose to have or not have an excess (affects your premium). If the accident is not your fault and the culprit (third party) is identified, you have no excess to pay. If your car is stolen, you have an excess. The excess can be different depending on the claim (always check your contract).

4. Fully comprehensive/Third party: Fully comprehensive is the same as in the UK, you and the car are insured whether it is your fault or not. Third party means that your car is not covered for an accident (only public liability) if it is your fault and it has different levels of cover. Some include glass breakage, theft and fire, some don’t. Check your contract.

5. Glass breakage / Bris de glace: The excess is less for glass breakage and it covers windscreens, windows and headlights but does NOT include wing mirrors and backlights.

6. Breakdown cover/ Assistance 0km ou 25km: You can have breakdown cover (recovery up to 180€) from 0km (your front door-home start) or from 25km, meaning if you break down at only 5km from your house, it is not covered (with Allianz). For the recovery, the car is taken to the closest garage (not the one you want). If the repair takes less than 2 days, the insurance pays the hotel, otherwise, the insurance pays to take you home or where you were going with your car. The insurance then pays for you to pick up your car (only one person) once it is repaired.

7. Replacement vehicle: You can have this option added to your contract. With Allianz, it’s about 6 euro more per month. There is a limit on the length of time for the replacement and it depends if it is breakdown, theft or accident.

8. Pack Valeur Plus: You can add an option which means that you get at least a minimum amount for your car if it is written off (3000 euro) or get back the purchase price of the car (if the car is less than 2 years old), then you can get the expert value +20%, 30%, etc. depending on the age of the car, etc. Basically, it’s an option that guaranties you don’t feel let down with the value of your car if it is written off. The condition of this option is different depending on the company you are with and the car must have less than 150 000km on the dash when you take out this option.

9. Special discount for car with special options: Allianz offers 25% off for cars that have one of those options: AEB (Autonomus emergency brake system), City Park Full (autonomus parking assist) or ACC ( a car that brakes if you are too close to the vehicule in front).

10. Claims /Sinistres: In case of an accident, make sure that you fill in an agreed statement of facts on motor vehicle accident (Constat in French). Make sure you always have one in the car and don’t sign it if you disagree with it. I strongly advise that you prefill it with your personal details and insurance details so that it is easier when you have an accident (usually people are a bit stressed and panicky!). Also, always fill one in even if the other person involved tells you if they want to do this amicably or have no insurance. DO NOT TRUST PEOPLE!! And take pictures. We all have mobile phones that have camera.
There is an emergency helpline (they speak English) for breakdown, accident, etc. but also make sure you have the number on you even if you are not using your car as it includes repatriation and health cover abroad. The number is written on your green paperwork proof of insurance. Note that the breakdown fee will not be reimbursed if you do not phone them (unless it was organized by emergency services due to accident). Neither will the replacement car be allowed (if you took out the option) if you don’t follow proper procedure (Just phone them before you do anything).
Compensation for death or injury is decided by the French code of law and the amount is calculated in accordance to the level of importance of injuries or grief. E.g.: the death of a father of 5 children will be better compensated than the one of a 100 years old without any family.
Note that you will not get compensation for death or injury or for the car if you took the vehicle without permission of the owner or if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol before the accident. And you will have to pay for the compensation and damages you have caused to others! So, don’t drink and drive! Basically, the insurance does not work!!

11. UK number plates: Under European law, you have 3 months to change your number plate to French plate. With Allianz, we do insure on UK plates but you have to follow the law and change your number plate to French plate within the 3 Months. But we are lenient (when there is a good reason). However, note that if you go back to the UK in a car on UK plate with French insurance, you will get fined as not having insurance as our system is not recognized in the UK by the Automatic recognition plate system.

12. Premiums: It is calculated taking lots of different facts into account (probably why it is done by computer): The model of the car, price of replacement bits, horse power, the date it was first on the road, nationwide statistic of theft, what option you chose (third party, fully comprehensive, replacement car, excess, etc.). You can reduce the premium if you do less than 9000, 7000 or 4000km per year.
If, like my lovely English husband, you think French drivers are dreadful (OK I drive too close to the car in front but it’s only because they are too slow!!), then make sure you are properly insured and check your option on your contract.
And remember to check out our web site www.bh-assurances.fr/en for all my previous articles (“practical information”) and register to receive our monthly Newsletter. You can also follow us on Facebook: “Allianz Jacques Boulesteix et Romain Lesterpt”
And don’t hesitate to contact me for any other information or quote on subject such as Funeral cover, inheritance law, investments, car, house, professional and top up health insurance, etc…

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