What kinds of insurance will you need in France?
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that natural disasters, accidents and thefts happen anywhere and everywhere, despite your best laid plans. Because France follows a different legal code to the UK – civil law instead of common law – there are some important differences to know. Having the right insurance in France makes sure you don’t get caught out when moving abroad. We have a look at the key differences and the types of insurance you’ll need.
Civil liability insurance
Responsabilité civile, or civil liability, is a concept that doesn’t exist legally in the same way in the UK. Part of the French Civil Code since 1804, it requires an individual to repay or make good the damage caused to someone else. Instead of the victim having to make a claim, the individual is automatically considered responsible. They also hold responsibility for their children’s acts, any older relatives living under their roof, any employees, any animals and indeed any objects they own.
As such, assurance responsabilité civile privée, or personal civil liability insurance, is obligatory under French law. This doesn’t cover work or driving, for which you can buy a separate insurance in France.
You’ll sometimes find that other insurance policies can extend to partially cover your responsabilité civile. Make sure you’re not doubling up on any points, as this could lead to you spending extra money.
As a property owner in France, you will need home insurance (assurance habitation). Contrary to popular belief, it’s only obligatory for owner-occupiers if your property is part of a copropriété – more or less a condominium. Nonetheless, it’s a very good idea to make sure you’re covered.
If you rent out a home, again, the law doesn’t require you to have insurance. However, we do recommend it. Your tenant, on the other hand, will need to have insurance, unless your property is ‘seasonal property’ (logement saissonnier). You will find some companies offer MRH propriétaires non-occupants, a specific insurance for non-occupying owners to cover them in periods when they have no tenants.
It is illegal to drive without car insurance, and you can receive a fine of €750 and a three-year suspension.
There are a number of different types of car insurance in France. Note that they cover the car, not the person – so anyone driving is insured.
Firstly, you have assurance obligatoire – obligatory insurance. This is often called assurance au tiers. It covers your responsabilité civile/civil liability. It doesn’t cover physical or material damage to you or your vehicle if you cause an accident (if you don’t cause it, it will be covered by the other party’s responsabilité civile).
So-called multirisques or tous risques will cover most eventualities, including if you are responsible. Make sure that your policy includes assurance personelle du conducteur to cover physical or psychological harm to you as a driver if you’re in an accident.
School insurance, or assurance scolaire is technically only an obligatory insurance in France in certain situations, albeit ‘strongly recommended’ by the Ministry of Education. Nonetheless, it’s a requirement in enough situations that it is all but compulsory.
In theory, you don’t need it for any obligatory school activity, including outings to the gym or swimming pool. However, if your children take part in any optional activities, you must have it. This includes going to the canteen, taking part in supervised self-study, an optional school trip or a classe de découverte. A policy will also sometimes cover a child’s responsabilité civile. This can be a duplication of another policy, if you have one that already covers it, so it’s good to read the small print.
Sometimes, your child’s school will propose an insurance policy. You are under no obligation to accept that policy – you’re well within your rights to shop around.
Normally, the school will ask you for an attestation d’assurance scolaire, or certificate of school insurance, as proof of having it.
Since the introduction of a new law in 2016, all employers have to offer salaried employees complementary health insurance, or assurance complémentaire santé. This covers the part of healthcare not covered by the régimes obligatoires. French healthcare is world-class – if not the best in the world – but the system is complicated, so do have a read of our guide to understand how it works.
If you have moved to France to work on a self-employed basis, you will need to ensure that you are covered by specific insurance – such as professional indemnity insurance, professional equipment insurance and credit insurance.
If you’re looking to take out insurance in France, but don’t speak French, it can be daunting. We partner with a leading holiday-home insurance firm, who can help you with many of your requirements. Simply fill in a short form to be put in touch with them.
The Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency will help you: