Do French insurance policies confuse you?Insurance broker Aon conducted an online survey. It was sent to five-hundred English speakers in France (66% of which are British). Forty-four percent of those surveyed think that French insurance is different or very different to in their country of origin. One participant remarked: “I just assumed that insurance was global and the conditions for insurance in the UK would be the same as in France.”

Some participants mentioned the positive differences, with one reader commenting: “The insurance seems to be cheaper than the UK and contains breakdown insurance in the policy. We also get personal accident cover.”

However, the most significant difference noted by 16% of participants concerns paperwork: The complex procedures for taking out or cancelling policies which add the image that French insurance is still very bureaucratic.

Another surprise to many expats is the fact that many forms of insurance are obligatory in France. For example, 11% of those surveyed did not realise that home insurance for tenants is obligatory.

Further confusion resulted from the language barrier with complex French terms sometimes misunderstood (8% of respondents). This can lead to unexpected problems when it comes to claims as certain participants highlighted: “Replacement value does not mean the same here” said one respondent, while another, who had been hit by a drunk driver, said “My insurance agent didn’t tell me that the other party had to sign the accident report”.

Finally, a few expats were surprised to find that certain forms of insurance considered normal in their home country are non-existent in France, such as jewellery and items of value cover, as well as annual travel insurance, which is instead often included in home or car insurance packages.

Nevertheless, some participants do not think that there are significant differences between their insurance in France and country of origin: “There are no major differences between the UK and France for vehicle
and home insurance that I felt seriously concerned me”.

The facts – what’s really different

No claims bonus discount
The bonus discount plan is based on the number of years you have been “claims free.” Not all insurance brokers or agents will accept a claims history report from a foreign insurance. Besides, it takes as many as 13 years with no accident to obtain the 50% maximum bonus discount.

Automatic renewal and cancellation notice
Insurance policies are underwritten for a one year period that can be automatically renewed: if you miss the cancellation date (usually two months before the yearly renewal date), the contract will be valid for another year. The new regulation (Chatel act) is more favourable to the consumers who wish to cancel: for instance, it is now possible to cancel within the 20 days that follow the invoice mailing date.

Home insurance for tenants
All tenants are required by law to be insured for any damage they may cause to the property. In fact, you may not be able to move in if you don’t show a proof of insurance! In addition, the package Home Insurance policy offers protection for all of your personal belongings and furniture against the risk of fire, water damage, etc. Last, the liability coverage included in the package policy covers any damage or loss that you may cause to others, no matter where it occurs.

School insurance
It is highly recommended by the French Ministry of Education, and is a prerequisite for children in most schools. Without the proper coverage certificate, a student may be denied access to all extra-curricular activities, such as field days or museum visits with the class. It includes third-party liability and personal accident coverage for your child.

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