The French Insurance You Can’t Afford to Skip

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Did you know there was compulsory French insurance? When settling in France, you realise how bureaucratic the country is. Many extra processes may be required from you, as opposed to what you are used to depending on where you are from. The world of insurance is no exception to this rule. In many instances, you will be requested to take out insurance, even though it is not mandatory. Also, you may even already be insured without knowing it. Here are some pointers to help you decide whether you actually need to take this insurance or not. Make sure you have compulsory insurance in France, then, the choice is up to you.

compulsory insurance in France
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Civil liability insurance: the first compulsory French insurance

Civil liability insurance is one of the first French insurance you will be required to take out in France, specifically if you are renting. Whether you are renting a furnished or unfurnished property as your main residence (as opposed to a holiday or short-term rental), you will have to have insurance. Civil liability insurance is the minimum compulsory insurance you are required to take when renting a property. It covers the damages done to a third party.

The owner will request a civil liability insurance attestation before signing the lease contract.

However, this insurance doesn’t cover any damages caused to the property in case of a water leak, fire or explosion. So many people choose to take a broader coverage called the housing insurance “multi-risques”.

Housing insurance in France
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Housing insurance

So, we have seen that civil liability insurance was compulsory when renting a property but maybe not sufficient. Housing insurance is not compulsory insurance in France but it is highly recommended to take “multi-risques” housing insurance. Your personal belongings and the property damages will be covered in case of a water leak, fire or explosion.

The multiple-risk insurance will also include the required civil liability insurance.

Home insurance is not mandatory for property owners. However, it is recommended to take one if you want to be compensated in case of damages.

The average cost of multiple-risk housing insurance is about 190 euros/year for an apartment and 360 euros/year for a house in 2023. Several elements will impact the insurance premium such as:

  • The property size
  • The property location and the region in France
  • If you own or rent
  • The estimated value of your belongings to be covered
  • The options chosen

It is always good to put the insurance companies in competition as being a faithful client is not a criterion of a good deal in the French insurance world. You can use the Loi Hamon explained at the end of the article to switch insurance companies and save on the premiums! And the good news, the new insurance company will take care of most of the paperwork.

To take a French housing insurance contract, the most common documentation request will be as follow:

  • Proof of ID (passport, EU ID card)
  • French bank details (RIB)
  • Rental contract (for the tenants)

If you move, you should inform your insurance of your new address to transfer the coverage or cancel it. See further down regarding the French insurance contract cancellation process.

car insurance in France
Photo by Suriyo Munkaew

Third-party car insurance

You bring your car from another EU country

If you are a car owner you will need to take out third-party car insurance when relocating to France. However, if you move temporarily as a student, pensioner, second homeowner or cross-border commuter from another EU country, this will not be required. If you bring your car from another EU country, with an EU plate registration and car insurance, you can use your insurance policy for up to 8 months. Of course, under the condition, the insurance company includes France under its coverage. You need to make sure with the insurance company that you will be covered in France and for how long.

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Driving in France: What are the requirements?

– Guiga from Expat in france –

You take out a French third-party car insurance

It is forbidden to drive a car in France without car insurance. Car insurance premiums vary a lot from one country to another due to different risk assessment methods, contract laws, or compensation schemes. Also, it is important to compare the insurance offers as some will not take into account your claims history in other countries.

The below information will be requested to take on car insurance:

  • The type of vehicle to be insured: brand, model, year
  • The use of the vehicle (personal or professional)
  • The people driving the car regularly
  • Previous penalties received
  • Your accident history
  • Your previous insurance statement
  • A copy of the registration certificate (called “carte grise” in France)
  • A copy of your driving licence
No insurance is needed in France to get SAMU assistance

Health insurance: the inevitable French insurance

It is compulsory to have health insurance when residing in France. Depending on your situation, you may apply for French social security. Unless you come to France with a job, I usually recommend taking private health insurance for the first 6 months as the process can be lengthy. This is especially important if you have a medical history. Registration to the French public healthcare is not automatic and you will need to follow this process to be able to have your medical cost reimbursed.

If you are unemployed and/or an inactive EU citizen, you might be able to apply for French health care under your stable residence status after 3 months of residing in France. Check this post where I explain in more detail the process to follow and the conditions to benefit from French healthcare.

Also if you are registered with the CPAM, do not forget to request your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to be covered when travelling to another European country.

SIDE NOTE: Did you know that 95% of French have complementary health insurance even though it is not compulsory?

It can be complex to choose the right one for you and your family. When I had to choose one, I was confused among all the available options. It is not easy to make the right choice, even for French people…

So, I ended up using a renowned online comparator called Les Furets to help me with my decision.

“Compare our complementary health insurance in two minutes

School insurance

What is school insurance? And is it mandatory? The school insurance covers your children at school until secondary school in case of damages caused to themselves, others, or goods. As a general rule, this insurance is not mandatory for the curricular activities and the time spent within the school premises. However, this insurance becomes compulsory when extracurricular activities are being organised for your child’s class, for example, a visit to the museum or going to watch a sports game.

School insurance is also required when your child is attending the school canteen and/or even childcare (périscolaire).

The school insurance includes:

  • the civil liability insurance (damages caused by the child)
  • the bodily injury insurance for your child

Depending on the French insurance you choose and the options, you may have broader coverage.

Before contracting school insurance, check that it is not already included in your multi-risk insurance or other insurance you may have. If it is not included, the school can give you options, or you can also add this option to the insurance you already have for your property.

If your child changes schools, make sure you inform your insurance company.

French school

Professional insurance

We have seen the general type of insurance that may be mandatory depending on your situation. There are also professional insurances that will be compulsory based on your profession. Many freelance professions require specific insurance such as real estate agents, architects, lawyers, accountants, and notaries…

The list is much longer. If you are a freelancer in France and you are not sure whether you need to take specific professional insurance, you should reach out to the union for your branch or the Chamber of Commerce. They will be able to inform you.

How to cancel your insurance policy?

French insurance contracts are usually renewed automatically and if you missed the notice period to end your insurance contract, you had to keep the contract for another year… Imagine putting a notification on your calendar to remember to end your French insurance contract on time!

Since 2015, the Insurance Code L-113-15-12 simplified the cancellation process for the consumer with what is called the Loi Hamon.

Your French insurance contract can now be stopped at any time after one one-year contract. A 30-day notice will apply. In addition, if you are moving away (check out my article to prepare for stress-free repatriation), you can end your contract by sending a letter with recorded delivery including the proof of your move (plane ticket, transfer letter from your employer…).

If you are changing insurance companies, the new company will take care of the cancellation for you.

This cancellation simplification applies to car and motorcycle insurance and multiple-risks housing insurance.

In any case, when you know you may need to cancel your contract because you will be repatriating soon or for any other reason, the best approach is always to call or e-mail your French insurance company to know their policy and processes as it can be hard to read between the lines of an insurance contract!

Keep in mind

When you are offered to take out insurance when you go skiing or for your credit card if it gets stolen, you first need to know if it is mandatory in France, then if you are already insured via your current insurance and of course, if you really need it.

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  • Bob


    One question: are there health insurance providers in France that offer less expensive policies than what we find online in the US? And what happens if, god forbid, you reach the magic age of 74 or 75 and no insurer wants to accept you for coverage?!! We’re not there yet but it’s coming and I don’t see how we can get covered by French Healthcare system faster than 4 or 5 years from now. Thnx!

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Hi Bob,
      Yes, you can choose French private health insurance as a non-EU citizen. We call them “assurance au premier euro”.
      I know it is hard to be accepted passed 60 years old. You will need to make your market research.
      Good luck and all the best to you.

  • LaraTabatabai

    One insurance which is very costly is the mortgage insurance, we had it as part of our mortgage and it was done automatically, we realized later on that this was quite expensive. My advice if you get a mortgage in France, be aware that the bank mortgage insurance is not compulsory and that you can shop around ! 😊

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Thank you, Lara, for the additional information!
      This is correct, property buyers in France have to have mortgage insurance and as any other insurance, it is recommended to compare the premiums as it is not compulsory to take it with the bank you’re doing the mortgage with.
      It is also possible to change the insurance after the first 12 months. It is a good way to renegotiate the premium or just change insurance company if you find a better offer elsewhere!

    • Mademoiselle Guiga

      Thank you Lara for the additional information!
      This is correct, property buyers in France have to have mortgage insurance and as any other insurance, it is recommended to compare the premiums as it is not compulsory to take it with the bank you’re doing the mortgage with.
      It is also possible to change the insurance after the first 12 months. It is a good way to renegotiate the premium or just change insurance company if you find a better offer elsewhere!

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