Make sure that you are properly insured while living in France, where personal insurance is a legal requirement for a number of cases.
The French insurance market offers a wide choice of companies and policies to choose from. All the major companies offering insurance, called assurance, have high street offices and are big enough to offer an umbrella policy for all your needs, as well as just a specific policy.
If you are an employee of a major firm or institution, it is well worth asking the HR department whether there is an agreement with a particular company offering lower than usual tariffs.
Insurance is a legal requirement for vehicles (assurance automobile), homes (assurance pour la maison or assurance d’habitation), civil liability (assurance responsabilité civile), and schoolchildren (assurance scolaire).
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You are legally required to insure your home, whether you rent or own it, before moving in, against all damage risks and risks of damage it might cause. Most policies are comprehensive, also insuring you against theft, and are called assurance multirisques habitation.
It is strongly advised to make sure you understand the small print of any policy, especially regarding what weather risks are covered, and for how much.
All vehicles in France must be insured, even if they are not in use. When taking out a policy, you will be issued a certificate testifying to the validity of your insurance, called un certificat d’assurance. This certificate must be fixed clearly visible on your vehicle windscreen. Policies are either third party (au tiers) or comprehensive (tous risques).
Whenever you use your vehicle, you are legally required to carry a document proving you are insured, called une attestation d’assurance, which is issued by your insurer.
Your insurer will also issue you a nationally standard form, called un constat amiable d’accident, to fill in the event of an accident. It is a carbon copy sheet, and both parties sign and send their copy back to their respective insurer to establish responsibility.
School and civil liability
Under French law you must be covered by an insurance policy for civil liability, and your child must also be specifically insured for this while at school. In most cases, civil liability is covered with a comprehensive home policy – but always make absolutely certain of this.
Life insurance (assurance vie) refers to a savings programme that sets aside and invests money for retirement or other long-term financial projects. It will also pay in case of death before the end of the policy term.
Insurance that will only pay a premium to your family in case of your death is called, most practically, assurance décès and is often linked to loss of earnings (prévoyance).
Read our article A guide to insurance in France for more detailed information.