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Insurance in France: Contracts will soon be cancellable at any time

The change, which includes pet and personal accident insurance, has been hailed as a step forward for consumers

A woman tearing up a piece of paper with writing on it

The new rules aim to make insurance policy conditions clearer for everyone Pic: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock

From July 1, 2023, people will be able to end almost all insurance contracts at any time – as long as one year has passed since the policy began – in what has been hailed as a step forwards for consumers.

The aim is to make all conditions for contract termination the same.

After five meetings on the issue between November 2021 and April 2022 – and after having been tasked with finding a solution by the insurance mediator in September 2021 – the Finance sector committee le Comité consultatif du secteur financier (CCSF) have unanimously adopted the change. It will come into force from July 1, 2023.

In a statement, the CCSF said: “Policyholders often get lost in the various cases of cancellation and do not understand under what conditions, and when, they can cancel their insurance contracts.”

The new law is set to “simplify legislation and information that must be given to policyholders”. 

Since 2005, insurers have been required to inform customers that they do not need to renew their contracts after a year. But from the new date, they will only need to inform policyholders of the new premium amount for the year, and remind them that they can cancel at any time.

Which contracts will this apply to?

Cancellation after the first year is already allowed for multi-risk home insurance, car insurance, and health insurance. It will now be allowed for pet insurance, legal protection insurance l'assurance protection juridique, and personal accident insurance (‘garanties d’accidents de la vie’ (GAV)).

The last two currently represent around 40 million contracts in France. As it stands, GAV policies can only be cancelled by sending a registered letter (lettre recommandée) two months before the annual expiry date.

Which contracts will it not apply to?

It will not apply to disability or life insurance, or long-term care insurance contracts. Nor will it apply to seasonal contracts (school contracts, hunting contracts), nor contracts covering pleasure boating, nor motorised and non-motorised personal transport equipment.

Were there any other insurance changes?

Yes. The committee also looked at other conditions for cancelling policies and saw that some companies were offering ‘free cover’ for the first month of the contract despite all contracts having a 14-day cooling off period, during which the policyholder can cancel. 

This ‘free cover’ period could lead some policyholders to unknowingly let the 14-day period elapse, and therefore be committed long-term, the committee said. 

It has therefore recommended that this cooling-off period be extended to 30 days from the date of the contract, or the date of the ‘free cover’ period.

Shorter policies such as travel insurance, which last less than one month, will not be affected by this change.

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