Cheap Car Insurance Policies in France
Wednesday 08 September 2021
There are plenty of cheap car insurance policies available in France, but they often come at a price.
Obtaining a competitive car insurance policy in France has been made easier in recent years due to the growth in the number of comparison websites.
There are a multitude of these sites in France, the most important of which are probably Assurland, Lelynx and Les Furets
Few can doubt that the sites have done an excellent job in increasing transparency, improving consumer knowledge and keeping down prices.
However, if you are using the websites some caution is needed, particularly if your search is governed entirely by price and your understanding of the French language and insurance practice is weak.
Particular issues that you need to consider are:
- The websites are driven by the commission they receive from the insurers, so none of them covers the whole market; some insurers are simply unwilling to work with certain (or any) comparison websites;
- Few offers are directly comparable as they vary in the range of their cover, the services they offer and the level of the excess (franchise), of which there will be several, varying by type of incident.
- You need to be careful of headline figures, which frequently only offer minimal cover, to which you need to consider other 'optional' guarantees that may be offered. The addition of these options can significantly affect the final price;
- Some insurers restrict their offer to certain categories of vehicle, driver or geographic area, as we found when we carried out a comparison test of some of the policies;
- Many of the low-cost insurers, in particular, offer promotional rates to new clients, but the premium generally rises significantly in subsequent years;
- Some sites and insurers are unwilling to recognise foreign insurance history, so if you have a 50% no-claims discount on your home insurance policy, you need to be certain it will be accepted by the French insurer. Even if they do, some insurers seek an accredited translation of foreign NCDs.
- The on-line insurers are generally not flexible in their tariff structures, so reductions that might be available by direct negotiation with a broker or agent are not possible.
Comparison sites make much of the need to check out each year whether you are getting the best deal, because that means you come back to their website every year, when they generate more traffic and income.
Searching the market obviously make good sense, and probably not enough international owners do that, often plumping for the first English language insurer they come across to take out a policy. One notable example is 'Britline', who are a branch of Credit Agricole Normandie, with whom many new owners open a bank account, although there are other, more suitable options for banking and insurance available.
Fabien Pelissier*, an insurer broker in south-west France who offers an English language service states that searching the market is important and not difficult, but that playing musical chairs too often with insurers can rebound on a consumer. "Doing so every year is not culturally appropriate in France", he says. "Many consumers might actually get a worse deal because of that. Most online websites ask for past insurance history and if the turnover was frequent they can void the commercial discount."
Perhaps the most significant issue concerns handling of claims; if you may have found the lowest quotation on the market but the insurer later refuses a claim made by you then the low price is going to be worthless. Low-cost insurers do not hold a monopoly of refusal of claims, but the chances of a claim being refused are inevitably going to be higher with such insurers, as that is the only way they are able to offer such competitively priced policies. They are also almost exclusively on-line, often making it difficult to manage for international property owners.
There is also the issue of understanding the documentation. Fabien states that "Being able to process supporting documentation in a foreign language is not easy and I have many clients who have had their policies terminated by an insurer for non-compliant documentation and who have subsequently had to pay twice as much because of that history of a French insurer terminating the policy."
Cheapest Car Insurance Policies
With these caveats in mind, is it possible to state what are the cheapest car insurance policies in France?
Given that none of the comparison sites offer a complete picture, and the fact that all offers will depend on your profile - your age, place of residence, driving experience and record and the type of vehicle - there can be no one size fits all insurer. Nevertheless, what do some of the sites say?
In a recent comparison study carried out by the motoring magazine AutoPlus, the lowest quotation obtained from an on-line search was from Carrefour Assurances, starting at €11 per month, significantly lower than any other insurer on the test. However, when we went to their website to test it, we found that the company was unwilling to offer a quote to certain profiles.
The magazine provides minimal information of the profile of the driver, stating merely that the figures are for an owner of a small saloon, such as a VW Golf, who has a 50% no claims bonus and taking third-party cover.
Other insurers who offered the most competitive quotes to them were: Active Assurance (€20 per month), Amaguiz (€24) Direct Assurance (€25), Areas Assurance (€30) and Assur One (€30)
A rather different table emerges in a study carried out in 2020 by the comparison website Lelynx.fr, although many of the same names occur.
The following figures are for a 40-year-old single man, owner of a Renault Clio, employed in the public section in Paris driving 10,000km a year, and holding a 50% no claims bonus. The figures are for third-party cover. As can be seen, several of the insurers repeat, although the premium differs due to the different driver profile.
Note that some of these insurers are on-line subsidiaries of major insurers. Thus, Direct Insurance is a subsidiary of AXA and Amaguiz of Groupama.
|Car Insurance France|
In a study carried out last year by money advice website Dispofi, they compared offers for a driver aged 35 years, with a 50% no-claims bones, living in Brittany and driving 10,000km a year. His vehicle was a Peugeot 208 parked in a garage at home.
Their study found the cheapest insurer was Acomme Assure (€13.73 a month), followed by La France Mutualiste (€13.73), Areas Assurance (€13.90), Euro Assurance (€15.60), and Assuréo (€16.02).
Finally, although the study dates from 2018, Meilleurtaux found that the cheapest policies were those offered by Eurofil (€21), Active Assurance (€23), Amagiuz (€24) and Direct Assurance (€25), once again, results that do resonate with the more recent studies.
*We have no car insurance commercial arrangements with the broker.