Like most other countries, it is obligatory for all cars in France to be insured. The minimum insurance which is legally required is 'third party liability auto insurance', which is also known as 'public liability and damage auto insurance'. This insurance covers injury to people or damage to other people's property, in the event of you being responsible for an accident. In addition to this minimum legal requirement, there are various types of optional car insurance for both your car (e.g. insurance against damage or loss from fire, theft or vandalism) and yourself (e.g. medical costs and lost earnings insurance in the event that you are hurt in an accident; legal expenses insurance in the event of an accident).
Once your car is insured, your insurance agent will give you a small green sticker (about 2 inches, or 4 centimeters, square) which you are legally required to display in your car windscreen window. This sticker proves that your car is insured, and provides the basic insurance information (such as the insurance expiry data and the insurance policy number). If you are ever involved in an accident and don't have your insurance documents to hand, you can get the essential information from this sticker.
If your car is registered and insured outside of France (for example, if you are a UK resident and are driving to France for a vacation), your existing car insurance may cover you for France. If your current car insurance does not cover you for driving in France, you will need to buy additional insurance for the duration of your stay in France. Normally, your existing insurance company will provide this additional insurance for a moderate fee. There are 3 items that you should confirm (preferably in writting from your insurance company):
- Legal Requirements. Make sure that you are covered for the minimum legal requirements (see above) in the event of an accident in France.
- Restrictions. Although your car may be insured for driving in France, your insurance company may provide a number of restrictions. For example, you may be covered for the legal requirements but other aspects of your insurance policy (e.g. against theft) may not be provided for UK cars travelling in France. This of course depends on your insurance company and insurance policy.
- Breakdown Cover. Breakdown insurance and accident recovery (transport of your vehicle in the event that it cannot be driven due to an accident) normally do not extend to France unless this is arranged with the insurance company prior to the trip. If you have separate breakdown insurance (e.g. with the AA or RAC), you should confirm this in advance with them. Also, find our the contact number you should use while in France, as this may be different from the contact number you use while in the UK.
For related articles, please click on Driving in France.