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MAKE SENSE OF: Assurance scolaire

IF YOU have a child at school - have you insured them?

IF YOU have a child at school - have you insured them? While schools cannot require insurance for participation in core school activities including trips out during class hours, the government advises parents to have insurance so as “to best protect the child.” Insurance is obligatory for extra-curricular activities and trips.

Fortunately, assurance scolaire policies do not necessarily cost much (one well-known firm, MAE, has policies from €9.90 to €33 per year per child). There are two essential parts:
* Garantie responsabilité civile (cover for damage your child might do to third parties, whether objects or people)
* Garantie accident corporel (cover in the case of your child being injured).

The first is often covered by home insurance policies, though not all cover damage which happens outside the home and they will usually have a franchise (excess), ie. an amount you must pay before the insurance comes into play. For example, if your child smashes a window, you might need to pay the first 75. Assurance scolaire policies may have no franchise.

Note that schools have legal responsibility towards children in their care during school hours, though for this to come into play it should be shown that staff were at fault in some way (eg. not supervising the children properly).

You may wonder why the second element - accident corporel - is useful. Surely the Cpam and your “top-up” mutuelle (if you have one) will cover medical costs? That is true, although the school insurance may, for example, give better cover on items like dental and optical care, depending on the mutuelle you have. However a MAE spokeswoman said school insurance goes further. She said: “The aim is to try to make sure that if there is an accident the child can carry on with their schooling in the best conditions and that they avoid falling behind. The insurance may complement the Cpam and mutuelle’s health cover but there are other guarantees too: home tutoring, driving to school, childcare or meal costs if the child cannot attend school. It is also possible to cover psychological care if the child has been bullied.”

School insurance also pays a capital sum in the case of accidents causing incapacity or death.

Application forms are straightforward - you fill in personal details like your name and address and occupation (eg. cadre - manager/executive, retraité - retiree, artisan - trades or craftsperson etc.); name, sex and school (établissement) of each child and level of cover required. Prices depend on what is included, not individual factors about the parent or child.

The main decision relates to cover, depending on your budget and the child’s needs. The various guarantees offered may be either for school activities and the journey to and from school (assurance scolaire), or 24-hour cover in all places and circumstances, including during leisure activities and holiday periods (strictlyspeaking, called assurance extra-scolaire).

Before taking out a policy, check you need it - you may decide instead to stick with the thirdparty cover from your household insurance (assurance multirisques habitation), especially if you already also have a personal injury cover policy covering your child (eg. policies with names like garantie individuelle accidents or garantie accidents de la vie).

To take out assurance scolaire you could either ask your usual insurer if they offer it, research other firms on the internet or take up a group offer which might be available via a parents’ federation with a branch at your child’s school, or (especially in the private sector) via the school itself.

Note that if you take a policy out you must notify the insurer if the child changes school.

Some terminology items you may find in policies include:
* Dès le premier euro - with no excess
* Accidents subis ou causés - accidents undergone or caused
* Frais de garde - childcare costs
* Soutien psychologique en cas de racket - Counselling where the child has been subject to bullying for money etc
* Vol de cartable - theft of schoolbag
* Ecole à domicile - schooling at home

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