There are many types of insurance in France, some of which may be familiar or similar to those in the UK. However, even if an insurance type has the same name, you shouldn’t assume that the policy’s conditions will necessarily be similar – French insurance can have its own peculiar characteristics…
Civil liability insurance, Responsabilité Civile Propriétaire, is a third-party compulsory insurance which covers any accidental damage that you, as a private person, may cause to others or their property. This is often included in a home insurance policy but it’s always sensible to confirm that this is the case. House insurance covers your main place of residence, while holiday home insurance is geared to protecting your house during long absences or if you are letting it out. You’ll need French car insurance for a permanent move, but your UK policy will usually cover you for 90 days at a time in France – check this in advance.
One type of policy that newcomers may not be aware of is school insurance – this is compulsory for children attending a French école. When registering your child for school you’ll be asked for an Attestation d’Assurance Scolaire. This confirms that your child is covered for damage caused by them to school property or other people. To be able to show this you’ll need Responsabilité Civile Propriétaire which, as noted, is often included in the basic home insurance policy. Ask your insurer for an attestation.
Finally, private health insurance is necessary in France if you aren’t entitled to the national PUMA cover.
If you want to take out a life insurance policy, make sure that you ask for the right one. In France, life insurance is called assurance décès, and shouldn’t be confused with assurance vie, which is actually an investment framework.
It’s advisable to insure your Carte Bleue, not only to pay for the replacement plastic if it’s stolen, but also because French banks may not always offer compensation for money that’s been taken illegally from your account in case of theft, identity scam or any other type of criminal activity.
The process of cancelling an insurance policy in France is very formal. The Hamon law brought a little more flexibility to this process in 2015, for home and vehicle insurance, allowing you to change insurers on assurances multirisques habitation and responsabilité civile automobile contracts at any time after the first year. For all other type of insurance don’t assume that you can just let it lapse or cancel at the last minute with a phone call. Instead, you must send your insurance company a formal letter informing them that you’re cancelling the policy. This must be done up to three months in advance or at a minimum 15 days before the renewal date, and you need to send the letter by registered (recommandé) post. If you don’t, then you’re legally compelled to pay for the following year.