Friday 08 June 2018
Terminating a complementary French health insurance policy is easier than most insurers would like you to believe.
As we have discussed previously on these pages, in most circumstances only a percentage of health treatement charges are reimbursable by the State.
In order to cover most these costs most households in France take out a complementary insurance policy, called l'assurance complémentaire santé.
The principle on which these policies operate is that they are automatically renewed and that silence on the part of the insured implies acceptance of renewal of the contract.
Most contracts require that two months' notice to terminate prior to the renewal date is given, failing which it is automatically renewed for a further year. Sometimes one month's notice is required.
Accordingly, if the renewal date of your insurance policy is 1st June, and your policy requires two months’ notice, you need to notify the insurer in writing by the end of March at the latest that you wish to terminate the policy, preferably by a letter sent recorded delivery.
However, insurers are obliged to give you due notice of the prospective renewal date of the contract, giving you the opportunity to terminate if you so desire. This information is often accompanied by notice of the new premium and any changes in the policy.
If the notice advising you of your right of termination is received less than 15 days before the final date allowed for termination, or after the date within which you are entitled to terminate, you are granted a further period of 20 days to terminate the contract. The period of 20 days runs from the date when the letter was sent by the insurer, not when it was received by you.
We have heard of examples where the date on the letter providing information on the right of termination was dated some weeks in advance of the date it was actually received. In these circumstances, unless you could prove by the date stamp on the envelope that the letter was posted on a later date it would be possible for the insurer to argue you had received due notice, which you had failed to act upon.
If the insurer fails to give any notice you, or a notice after the renewal date, you are at liberty to terminate the contract at any time, and receive reimbursement of any premiums paid that cover any later period. Termination takes place the day the insurer receives the letter.
Moreover, even if the insurer complies with due procedure, it is not always necessary to give two months’ notice to terminate the contract. If there are a change of circumstances in your life it is possible to do so giving only one months’ notice, or less, provided the change affects the guaranteed risk. The risk insured by the policy must have been increased or reduced so that the amount of your premiums or contributions would change.
Thus, if you relocate, or there is a change in family circumstances (marriage, death), you reach the age of retirement, or you become eligible for free health care then you can terminate at any time.
A change in your medical circumstances would not affect the premium payable on your complementary policy, so would not be grounds for termination.
In such circumstances you need to send a recorded delivery letter to the insurer with proof of your change in circumstances. Termination of the contract should then take place within one month.