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Insurance cover in France

Whether it’s French Home and Contents, Vehicle, Legal Protection or Top-Up Health insurance, this handy guide explains insurance cover in France.

French Home and Contents Cover

Protecting your property, whether it’s a secondary home, main home or rented out on a short term, holiday or long term basis, is vital for peace of mind and also includes something very important: Public liability cover.

What is Public liability cover?

Public liability cover is included in your Home and Contents insurance with many insurers. As a rule the cover is against a claim for damage caused by the policyholder to a third party or their property.

As mentioned above the level of cover varies according to the type of property being insured. For example the level of cover offered on a second home covers damage caused by the property to a third party. Cover for a main home extends to damages caused by the policyholder or a member of their family to a third party.

For a property you may be renting out for short holiday periods Public Liability would continue as long as those staying at the property were there no longer than 3 consecutive months. For a longer term the tenant would need to subscribe to their own Public Liability policy.

Levels of cover for insurance in France

When choosing the level of cover for your property make sure you have the basics included such as storm, hail, snow, fire and water damage to mention a few. You may then want to add other options depending on the use of your property. For instance swimming pool pack, garden furniture pack or gîte cover if you run this type of business. Don’t forget – if you do have a gîte, talk to your Mairie to make sure you are registered correctly. If not, even if you are insured for your gîte, you may find that a claim will not be possible.

Make sure you have measured all your rooms as well as outbuildings correctly when setting up your cover. In the event of a claim this information is essential for success.

If you build an extension or change the use of one of your rooms think about calling your insurer. Check that the changes are reflected in your policy.

French Vehicle Cover

If your residence in France is your main home the chances are you will have at least one car.  Whether you have a right hand drive car over or left-hand drive car, insurance is obligatory.

If your vehicle is on UK number plates, a visit to your nearest prefecture to find out the process of changing to French plates will be necessary. The process will vary in the amount of time it takes depending on the make, model, age and country of origin of your vehicle. During this process your vehicle needs to be insured. Some UK insurers, if you have just moved over to France, may allow the insurance to continue for a set amount of time. If not when taking out a French insurance policy make sure the insurer knows you are in the process of changing registration and make sure you know how long they will insure you for whilst you are still on your English plates.

If your residence in France is a holiday home and you have your car in the garage whilst back home in the UK, do not make the mistake of thinking if it’s locked away and not in use no insurance is needed.

For public liability purposes the car must remain insured. Therefore you might want to change the level of insurance so the minimum level of cover is still in place.

Car cover will be very similar in France to what is provided in the UK. You will find quite easily ‘Third Party only’, ‘Third Party Fire and Theft’ and ‘Fully Comp’ equivalents along with a range of extras and options that can be included.

Other options such as Homestart breakdown cover, glass damage and zero excess amongst others, can also be set up at the outset or during the life of the contract.

You may also have other types of vehicles at you property you wish to cover. Ride on lawn mowers, scooters, motorbikes and boats can all be catered for to keep all insurances under one roof.

Legal Protection Cover

If you are resident on a permanent basis in France, Legal Protection is an inexpensive insurance cover giving you access to a team of French legal experts in the event of private, consumer and labour disputes. When arriving in France you may not be completely at ease with the rights you do or you do not have. If you have a doubt you can obtain the advice and assistance you need.

Some Home and Contents policies may have limited Legal Protection cover included. However if you wish to have complete cover a stand-alone contract is the best option. If you are a UK resident, in some cases the cover can be taken out – however it will apply strictly to French litigation only.

Health cover in France

Holidays in France -Residing at your Secondary residence

It is very important to apply for an EHIC card before you leave for your holidays abroad whether travelling to France or another European country. The card will cover you up to 90 consecutive days for any medical treatment you may need when away. If you pay for any treatment you receive keep your receipts and proofs of treatment for your return home.  For more information, to apply for or renew an EHIC card consult the NHS website.

French Residents

Once resident in France you will need to contact your local Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (CPAM). They will advise if you will automatically be covered by the French social security system for a certain percentage of your medical costs.

If you are covered you will be provided an attestation and then a Carte Vitale. This needs to be presented at all medical appointments, hospitals and chemists. You may then wish to take out Top-Up Health insurance to cover the costs not reimbursed by the CPAM. Depending on your needs, age and budget you should research Top-Up cover to suit you.

If you find out you are not covered by the CPAM you may need 100% Private Health cover.

The Main Differences between French and UK Insurances

  • Contents as well as the property itself are generally covered within one policy in France unlike the UK.
  • Accidental damage is not covered in France. So, don’t spill that glass of red on your white sheepskin rug and expect that your House and Contents insurer covers it!
  • Generally insurance cover in France is automatically renewed from one year to the next. If you like to shop around – don’t leave it until the last minute. Exceptions to the rule exist if applying the Loi Hamon or the Loi Chatel. Ask your insurance adviser for more details.
  • Non-payment of a premium triggers the cancellation of your policy. You may well find it a struggle to find new insurance even if non-payment has been unintentional. You may also find yourself paying a higher premium in the future due to this mishap.
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