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Getting your Insurance Right in France
When you make the move to France, one of the first things you’re likely to need to get sorted out is your insurance. When you sign with the Notaire to take ownership of your new property, you should have your house insurance and contents lined up. That way, you can be sure that you’re covered right from the start. While many of the big names in insurance that you’re familiar with in the UK operate in France, some of the detail of the policies is different, so it’s well worth being aware of what you need and what cover you’re actually signing up for, particularly if your French isn’t all that great.
In this article, we’ll outline the main insurances that you’re likely to need right from Day 1 for your new life in France, as well as how to choose the right provider. The insurances that you’ll need include: house and content insurance, health insurance, car insurance, school insurance, pet insurance and if you’re starting up a business, business insurance.
Here’s an overview of each insurance option:
In order to achieve the right level of house insurance, you need to tell your insurer where your house is situated and the number of rooms and outbuildings it has. You also need to confirm if your house is made of wood or is of historic significance, as this will affect its value/risk for insurance purposes. With each of the companies, there is a standard level of cover and an amount that is allowed for single items of high value as well as options for adding extras.
Standard insurance allows for fire, storm, hail and snow damage as well as water damage. Broken windows, theft and vandalism are also normally covered, as is natural catastrophe, public liability, legal defense and home assistance. Options include things like new for old and electrical damage. You can alter the amount of excess on your policy by paying more in order to achieve a lower excess.
When you start your new life in France, it’s advisable to take out an insurance policy to pay the part of your medical expenses what isn’t paid by the state. We’ve already written an article about this subject, it’s called Choosing your mutuelle/complémentaire santé and you’ll find it here.
If you’re driving your own car in France, then it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s appropriately insured. Car insurance in France is very similar to car insurance in the UK and the cost is based on your age, your occupation and the make, model and value of your car as well the number of kilometers you’re likely to drive each year. In your car insurance, you can allow for third party cover only or fully comprehensive cover, with defense and appeal costs included. Things like assistance, glass breakage and acts of God can also be included in the cover, as well as theft, fire and arson.
School insurance seems like a strange idea when you first come to France, but in many ways it makes good sense. Every child that goes to school in France is required to have insurance. That insurance covers the child themselves in the event of an accident, but also covers other children that the child might inadvertently seriously hurt or injure. School insurance comes normally with two basic options. The first is for only school-based activities or school related activities and the other is includes extra curricular activities that the child may take part in. School insurance costs only a few euro per year and can often be added as part of your household insurance policy.
Depending on the sort of business you’re planning to start, you may or may not need business insurance. This type of insurance in France is more complex than in the UK and is normally dealt with by a specialist advisor within the insurance company. Business insurance in France can be very expensive, so the message here is to know exactly what you must have in terms of insurance; know what you’d like to have and be prepared to compromise. It’s also a good idea to shop around carefully.
Other insurance options might include life insurance, particularly if you are borrowing; pet insurance; insurance of your mobile home or caravan as well as yacht and boat insurance.
Choosing the right provider
When it comes to choosing the right insurance provider, it’s always a good idea to seek out and follow up on recommendations. A warm lead into a quality insurance provider is normally a better start than walking in cold to an insurance office on the high street. Depending on your level of French, it may be that choosing an English speaking insurance agent is of paramount importance to you. Either way, it’s important to choose someone that you get along with and have confidence in.
At My-French-House, we have a long-standing (20 years!) professional relationship with an insurance provider in France who speaks fluent English and can cater for all your insurance needs.