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Car Tax and Insurance

France - Car Tax and Insurance


In France there is a specific set of laws which govern the insurance companies and set out the obligations of the insurance companies and the insured person. Each policy that you have is considered to be a contract and it is the obligation of the insurance company to ensure that they have asked all the correct questions in order for the insured person to be adequately covered. This is different to many other countries as the obligation is usually placed on the part of the insured person.

In France all insurance contracts are considered to be automatically renewable, so this will happen with no word from the insured person, so it is up to you as the insured person to end the contract if you do not want to renew with the same insurer.

In France a vehicle is defined as an engine that has a driver’s seat. All vehicles must have the equivalent of third party insurance as a minimum requirement. If you have a caravan or a trailer which weighs over 750kg then you must have separate insurance for that. In order to show that you have valid insurance you must display the green coupon issued to you by the insurance company. This is displayed in the bottom right hand corner of the windscreen of the vehicle. The insurance company will also issue a green card which must be kept with the registration documentation and be made available to the authorities if they wish to see it. If you do not have valid insurance then you face a prison sentence of up to 6 months.

No matter which policy you opt for it will cover a certain number of items. These include the public liability of the driver to third parties, even if an unauthorised person takes the car without permission. All policies will name three people – the policy owner, the owner of the car and the main driver. Often these three are actually the same person. The policy is not specific for the person but for the car, so no matter which car you are driving you are insured providing the owner has a valid insurance policy. It is often a standard clause on an insurance policy that a driver with less than three years experience of driving will be liable for higher excesses on the policy.

Everyone who is not the driver is considered to be third party. This applies to all passengers travelling in the car as well as occupants of another car in the event of a collision. All policies will also cover you for what is known as ‘defense et recours’ which means that if you are in an accident and the case is sent to court then the insurance company will cover any costs as well as representing your interests.

The no claims bonus in France is known under several names. You may hear it referred to as the ‘coefficient reduction’, the ‘majoration’ or the ‘bonus malus’. It can take up to 13 years for a driver to earn the full no claims bonus which is a total of 50%. If you have no claims bonus that you have earned in your home country it is a good idea to bring any relevant documentation as you may be able to transfer your no claims bonus to your new policy in France.

There are also a number of optional items that you can add to your policy if you wish. These include a payout to the driver if they suffer injuries as the result of an accident for which they were responsible. If they are not responsible then the insurer will fight the insurance company of the third party for the damages. You can be covered for fire and explosions but not if the car is hit by lightning. There are options which cover you for damage to the windows and windscreen. You can be covered for damage caused by wind and natural disasters, although payouts for natural disasters are covered in part by the government. You can have cover for theft of the vehicle if it is not recovered within 30 days. You can have legal assistance added to the policy as well as breakdown cover.

If you purchase a new car you are given a replacement policy and you still have a one month basic policy on the old car in order for you to sell it. Even cars that are kept off the road must have a basic insurance policy as it is illegal not to be covered. No matter where you travel in Europe you will be covered on your French insurance policy.

If you need to make a claim then the insurance company will give you an accident report to fill in. This is submitted back to the insurance company and they will deal with all the details of the claim. Cancelling an insurance policy is not that straightforward. You need to give two months notice to the company that you intend to cancel and this must be done in writing. Contracts cannot be cancelled before they reach the end, so you must cancel in plenty of time before it is automatically renewed. A renewal notice is issued and you should be informed how long you have before the policy can be cancelled.

Road tax is not a requirement in France for private cars, but if you have a vehicle for commercial use such as a van or a taxi you do need to obtain a tax disc and display it in the windscreen.


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