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Insurance in France

By Katherine GRAFFIN

How does insurance in France work and what are the different types of insurance policies?

You are planning to come and live in France or you are already living in France and you are asking yourself how the insurance system works.

As in any country, there are different types of insurance, some are compulsory, others are not. We will explain hereafter the different types of insurance and will give also a quick presentation of the different insurance actors. House insurance: this type of insurance will only insure your house in France and is compulsory. If you are renting an apartment, a house or buying real estate, you need to have insurance. If you own a property for rent, you do need a house insurance but it is only limited to certain benefits. If you have a house for holiday, you also need to have insurance.

Civil liability insurance: this insurance is a third party insurance which covers any accidental damage you cause to another person or his property. It is usually included in house insurance. However, for any use of a motor vehicle (for rent or as a car owner), you will need a specific civil liability insurance (see below). This insurance is called in French “responsabilité civile”. This insurance is needed and compulsory for children going to school in France.

Car insurance: this insurance is compulsory for third party insurance “Assurance au tiers”. You may choose to insure 100% of your car in case of theft or damage to other people’s cars. Health insurance: France has for the majority of people the “sécurité sociale” which is the public health insurance in France. Foreigners can obtain it after a certain period of residence and if they are paying for it either because they work as “travailleur independent” or as “salarié” or student or retired from the French social system. We advise then to take a “mutuelle complémentaire” which will pay for the costs up to a certain limit which the sécurité sociale does not reimburse.

Foreigners can choose and sometimes must choose a private health insurance (if they do not have access to “sécurité sociale”). In this case, depending on the length of your stay, your needs, situation, many solutions exist and you are best at asking an insurance broker for the best solutions for you Life Insurance: a life insurance is a contract insuring a certain amount of capital in case of death. It is also an interesting tax-envelope for investing your money and preparing your retirement benefits. Structure of the French insurance market Many actors play a part in an insurance contract.

You first have the insurer of a contract, then you can have the manager specialized in the administrative management of your contract and of damages which may occur. You also have the broker which role is to advise you the best contract and intervene to help you towards the insurer. The premiums are fixed by the insurer so that a good broker does not make you pay extra fees for the enrolment through his intermediary. Sometimes these different parties can be the same person but you usually have 2 or more actors in a contract.

The advantage of contracting through an insurance broker is that he will advise you the best contract having himself made a large market study, he will help you read “between the lines” and inform you about different procedures such as cancellation which requests for most of the insurances a formal procedure to follow. He will help you through the life of your contract and intervene directly in case of problems. Every insurance actor is controlled by the French Authority of Insurance and Mutuelles, Autorité de Contrôle des Assurances et des Mutuelles ( and has an identification number Orias in order to check its official registration.

About the author: Katherine GRAFFIN is the founder and manager of and, specialized in international and travel insurance. To contact her: +33 (0)1 46 21 99 29 or .





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