Car Insurance in France
As elsewhere in Europe, car insurance is of two types, mandatory and optional: Mandatory liability insurance covers third parties, that is, persons other than the insured and the insurer. It is the minimum insurance required by law for valid car registration and is certified by a sticker affixed to the windscreen. It also is the minimum insurance required by the Green card systems across Europe.
Driving without liability insurance is an offence subject to a fine of € 3500 and suspension of driving licence for three years (according to 2005 edition of Welcome on France's Roads published by the Road safety agency).
Optional insurance covering supplementary risks, including comprehensive damage to own vehicle however caused [dommages tous accidents], collision damage to own vehicle [dommages collision], theft and fire [vol et incendie], glass breakage [bris de glaces] , common accessories [options les plus courantes], subsidiary damage to accessories [attachees obligatoirement], natural disasters [catastrophes naturelles], infrastructure failures [catastrophes technologiques], storms [tempete] and violence or terrorism [attentats et actes de terrorisme].
Likewise, as elsewhere in Europe, car insurance premiums [tarifications] depend on the car and on its driver:
- Car [vehicule]: size and power, price category and age.
- Drivers [conducteurs]: age and how long licensed [age du conducteur et anciennete du permis] , occasional drivers [conduite occasionnelle] , sole driver [conduite exclusive], past driving record [le "passe" du conducteur], learner drivers [les antecedents], preferential rates [tarifs preferentiels], business use [usage de la voiture], kilometres driven a year [assurance au kilometre] and place usually garaged [lieu de garage habituel].
Moreover, premiums vary according to the insurance claims made or likely to be made: there is reward of a discount [bonus] for no-claims driving and a surcharge [malus] for unsafe driving:
- Bonus: after a no-claim year, the premium goes down by 5% to 95% of the preceding year, with a minimum of 50% of the basic rate, or 50% bonus.
- Malus: after a year with one or more claims, the premium goes up by 25% to 125% of the preceding year, with a maximum of 3.5 times the basic premium. If you have had a 50% bonus for three or more years, there is no surcharge following one claim in a year.
In 2004, the European Commission took the view that the Bonus-mains systems of France and Luxembourg violated the freedom of setting premiums according to the motor insurance Directive of 1992 and consequently brought infringement proceedings against the two countries before the Court of Justice of the European Communities. On 7 September 2004, the Court found that the Bonus-mains systems were not unlawful and consequently refuted the Commission's argument (Cases C-346/02 and C-347/02).Car insurance is specialised and ever changing. So for comprehensive, up-to-date information, contact the French Federation of Insurance Companies [Federation Francaise des Societes d'Assurances], 26 bd Haussmann, 75311 Paris Cedex 09, Tel: 01 42479000, www.ffsa.fr, with downloadable PDF brochures providing complete information on the matters summarised above.