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New law to boost consumer rights

Cancelling insurance and changing your mind after an online purchase are among the areas covered in new bill

CANCELLING an insurance policy in France is set to become easier under new consumer protection measures unveiled by the government.

A new draft law on consumer issues has been put forward to the French cabinet this week.

Economy minister Pierre Moscovici said the measures aimed to increase competition among businesses - while consumer affairs minister Benoît Hamon said they would boost the public's spending power.

Among the key measures is greater freedom for consumers to change their insurance policy at any time, instead of having to wait for the annual renewal date - generally at the end of March. Moscovici said policyholders were currently being held "captive" by the restrictions.

But insurers fear the relaxed measures will increase their administrative work and therefore the cost of managing contracts - which could then have to be passed on to consumers.

Other measures in the bill include a ban on pre-ticked boxes on online forms that automatically sign people up for extra options such as cancellation insurance on a flight.

Online shoppers will have 14 days to change their mind if they are unhappy with a purchase - instead of the current seven-day limit.

Also included in the draft law is a provision for "class actions" - making it easier for groups of consumers to get together and sue a business collectively.

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